Thursday, April 16, 2009
I think it is disingenuous of Michael Perelis and the group in San Francisco to use my release of last year to support your boycott issues of this year. I was part of the Canada based attempts at a boycott last year. We learned numerous lessons from that attempt, not least among which is the fact that the lives of LGBT persons in Jamaica are at risk. I have therefore changed my strategy and will do nothing without the inclusion of my colleagues in Jamaica .
I implore you to do the same and do not support your present efforts. The struggle to gain rights and freedoms for the LGBT community in Jamaica will never be won by groups acting independently, but through a coordinated effort of selfless persons, groups and organizations both locally and internationally.
This call for a boycott of Jamaica is outrageous and counter productive. The attack on Red Stripe is appalling and unacceptable, of all the cooperate organizations in Jamaica ; they were the ones who were willing to stand out and denounce violence against any group of persons. This self seeking effort / campaign of the group in San Francisco need to end now. JFLAG has stated they do not support the boycott and that need to be respected. If the community that you claim that this boycott will benefit is not in support what is your purpose of continuing? It is only when we work together we will make the difference
Gareth Henry Former Co-Chair and Program Manager
Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
At first glance, this appears to be a worthy battle for LGBT activists to take on. Instead of constantly focusing on same-sex marriage legislation, why not consider those living in parts of the world where gays and lesbians are continually beaten and murdered because of their sexual orientations?
Well, there’s one significant issue with the boycott: Jamaica’s LGBT population is opposed to it.
According to a press release from Jamaica Forum for Lesbians Allsexuals and Gays (JFLAG), the boycott would most likely hurt, rather than help, the lives of LGBT Jamaicans. From the press release:
Jamaica’s deeply ingrained antipathy towards homosexuality and homosexuals is a social phenomenon that will not be undone by boycott campaigns or government dictate. It requires the painstaking effort of confronting the society and talking to social actors who can bring change in the way society sees LGBT people….It is important that our international allies understand the nature of our struggle and engage us in a respectful way about it.
The organizers of the boycott have heard JFLAG’s perspective — and have decided to continue with the boycott anyway, arguing that LGBT Jamaicans are not in a position to support a boycott, as it would endanger their lives.
Now, personally, I’m uncomfortable with boycotts of this nature under most circumstances. While it’s certainly true that damaging a nation’s economy is a powerful way to communicate a message to a governing body, it’s also true that such significant economic interference can negatively affect the lives of innocent civilians. In this case, damaging Jamaica’s economy will affect the lives of the country’s LGBT citizens — a community already marginalized and faced with the reality of homophobic violence.
But in this case, I think the boycott is particularly inappropriate. To ignore the years of work JFLAG has tirelessly put into creating a safe environment for LGBT Jamaicans is to undermine the very people these American activists claim to support. Disrespecting a community in the name of activism is offensive and inappropriate. And given the history of queer persecution in Jamaica, there is no evidence that the boycott would diminish the homophobic violence that plagues the nation. Though the activism behind this boycott may be well-intentioned, it is certainly misguided.
Do any of you support this boycott? If not, what alternatives, if any, are there for helping the LGBT people of Jamaica in a respectful manner?
Some Jamaicans are speaking out in favor of efforts to boycott Jamaican goods or music until leaders take serious action to reduce antigay vigilantism.
Perhaps most prominent among music-boycott supporters is Gareth Henry, who was the co-chair of Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals, and Gays until he was forced to flee the country for Canada last year. J-FLAG publicly expresses disagreement with the boycott, but according Xtra.ca, Henry says that JFLAG can’t be seen to publicly support a boycott.
“They can’t be the ones to call for the boycott,” he says. “They can’t be that voice. But the gays, lesbians and queers on the ground are supportive of a boycott.”
Henry says he’s tried talking to the government.
“We have tried numerous approaches, numerous dialogues with government officials,” he says. “They have been non-responsive to the call. We have to hit people where it’s going to hurt, where they’ll feel it. In the Jamaican context talk is cheap. After 10 years of JFLAG’s existence what else can we do?”
Meanwhile, Stop Murder Music Canada (SMMC) — which advocates a boycott of Jamaican musicians whose songs contain violently homophobic lyrics — is now calling for a boycott of Jamaica if the country’s government doesn’t take action on homophobic violence by May 12.
Xtra.ca reports that Canada’s reggae community is split on the issue.
Christian Lacoste, an openly gay Montreal reggae fan who runs the website Murder Inna Dancehall, supports both the boycott and an official immigration ban on visits by homophobic dancehall artists. But Cezar Brumeanu, who runs the Montreal International Reggae Festival and that city’s House of Reggae nightclub, opposes a boycott.
Another boycott supporter: Jamaican blogger Dave, supports BoycottJamaica.org, a newer boycott of Jamaican goods and tourism. Dave — who is forced to remain anonymous to protect his safety — says:
This could potentially devastate my country during this global recession but this is basically the only thing I can do to improve my living conditions without putting myself in physical danger. Jamaica sucks when it comes to addressing LGBT issues and I am tired of living under these stupid conditions. Obviously, LGBT issues require much more attention Worldwide, even in the US, but Jamaica just refuses to even give us any basic rights. And they NEVER speak out against violence against gays. I don’t F-ing care how long it takes, just Boycott our asses and pass the word along.
The goals of BoycottJamaica.org are modest: There is no requirement that Jamaica affirm same-sex orientation or legalize same-sex intimacy. Instead, BoycottJamaica calls for Jamaican officials to publicly commit to ending antigay violence, and for the Prime Minister to clearly and unequivocally condemn antigay violence and express regret for past violence.
But they refuse. Until Jamaican leaders declare a halt to antigay vigilantism, a boycott appears to be the only way for LGBT people in the United States, and their allies, to tell Jamaica that they will no longer subsidize Jamaicans’ war against their gay neighbors and against basic human decency in exported music.
Hat tip: Box Turtle Bulletin
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
April 12, 2009
Dear Friends and Supporters:
We thank our international allies for their continued interest in the state of LGBT affairs in Jamaica. Your support over the years has strengthened our voice and made it possible for us to make progress where we hardly thought it possible. One of the most significant ventures in which our international allies have collaborated with us was the SMM campaign that started in 2004, and which culminated in a local debate about the appropriateness of violence and hate in Jamaican music played in public places. Despite the occasionally homophobic rant by rogue deejays, we have seen a general decline in the level of homophobia coming from new Jamaican artistes and in new music from Jamaica. We have also seen corporate sponsors withdrawing their support from music that promotes violence or discrimination against any group.
It is with this in mind that we find it unfortunate that a campaign has been launched calling for the boycott of two Jamaican products, one marketed by a company that unequivocally distanced itself from the hostility and violence typical of Jamaican music towards members of the LGBT community. In April 2008, Red Stripe took the brave and principled stance to cease sponsorship of music festivals that promoted hate and intolerance, including that against members of the LGBT community. The naming of Red Stripe, therefore, as a target of this boycott is extremely damaging to the cause of LGBT activists in Jamaica.
In the global arena in which we operate today, events in one place can and do have repercussions in another. Concomitantly, information about occurrences in different places across the globe is easily accessible everywhere. We believe that any overseas entity or organisation seeking to agitate for change in a context with which it has only passing familiarity should first do its homework to ensure that it does not do harm to its credibility and ultimately to the cause of the local community whose interest it seeks to defend.
It is unfortunate that the organisers of the current campaign to boycott Jamaica have failed in the key area of fact finding. The misguided targeting of Red Stripe does tremendous damage to a process of change that we began almost 11 years ago. The boycott call has now left us not only with our persistent day to day challenges but with a need to engage Red Stripe and attempt damage control as a result of actions that we did not take. Against this background, we would like to reiterate that while we appreciate the support given by our international allies, and understand their impatience for change, we who live in Jamaica best know and understand the dynamics of our situation. We also know that change is a slow and tedious process and those who engage in it must be patient.
Jamaica’s deeply ingrained antipathy towards homosexuality and homosexuals is a social phenomenon that will not be undone by boycott campaigns or government dictate. It requires the painstaking effort of confronting the society and talking to social actors who can bring change in the way society sees LGBT people. We have been doing this through a small but growing group of increasingly aware opinion leaders who are concerned about the damage homophobia does to our society. We need those ears to continue being open to us and we need the relative safety that some of us have been given to speak to them.
It is important that our international allies understand the nature of our struggle and engage us in a respectful way about it. Unless they are willing and able to lead the struggle in the trenches as we have done, it is important that they be guided by us. To do otherwise would be to act in a manner that destroys the space for dialogue that we have managed to create over the past decade and to set back our struggle. It is for this reason that we urge those in the international arena who seek to act in our name and on our behalf to do so not only with the utmost care and responsibility but also with due consideration for our efforts and concerns as members of the local activist community.
Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays - J-FLAG
email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
US gay rights activists have launched a campaign encouraging the boycotting of Jamaican products and services as a protest against the island's treatment of gays and lesbians.
However, a Jamaican LGB organisation has said the campaign will damage their cause as one of the products targeted, Red Stripe beer, is openly supporting the anti-hate movement.
A campaign website, http://www.boycottjamaica.org/ was set up by former Human Rights Council Spokesman Wayne Besen, along with prominent LGB rights activists Jim Burroway and Michael Petrelis, and campaigns for Jamaica to become a pariah state until social attitudes on the island towards homosexuality change.
Jamaica is considered to be one of the most homophobic countries in the world, where gay sex between two men can carry a ten-year jail sentence or hard labour. Sex between two women is currently legal.
Mr Besen told the Huffington Post: "Why boycott [Jamaica]? Because Jamaica is on a downward spiral and suffers from collective cultural dementia on this issue. There is clearly a pathological panic and homo-hysteria that has infected this nation at its core.
"Jamaica is an island of self-righteous hypocrites. The Bible is used to rationalise brutality, and vigilante violence is justified with talk of virtues and values. But, the island is quite comfortable with ganja and gratuitous sex for heterosexuals."
The website calls for boycotting of specific of Jamaican products sold in the US, including Myers Rum and Red Stripe beer.
In an open newsletter, the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) responded to the website's demands:
" … we find it unfortunate that a campaign has been launched calling for the boycott of two Jamaican products, one marketed by a company that unequivocally distanced itself from the hostility and violence typical of Jamaican music towards members of the LGBT community.
"In April 2008, Red Stripe took the brave and principled stance to cease sponsorship of music festivals that promoted hate and intolerance, including that against members of the LGBT community.
"The naming of Red Stripe, therefore, as a target of this boycott is extremely damaging to the cause of LGBT activists in Jamaica.
The letter added: "Jamaica’s deeply ingrained antipathy towards homosexuality and homosexuals is a social phenomenon that will not be undone by boycott campaigns or government dictate. It requires the painstaking effort of confronting the society and talking to social actors who can bring change in the way society sees LGBT people."
Last month, it was revealed that gay men in Jamaica were at a higher risk of contracting HIV due to discrimination.
The prime minister of Jamaica, Bruce Golding, also recapitulated his government's attitude towards homosexuality:
"We are not going to yield to the pressure, whether that pressure comes from individual organisations, individuals, whether that pressure comes from foreign governments or groups of countries, to liberalise the laws as it relates to buggery," he said.
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Thanks for your Donations
thank you for your donations via Paypal in helping to keep this blog going and related costs. Please continue to support me and my allies in this venure that has now become a full time activity. When I first started blogging in late 2007 it was just as a pass time to highlight GLBTQ issues in Jamaica under then JFLAG's blogspot page but now clearly there is a need for more forumatic activity which I want to continue to play my part.
Activities & Plans: ongoing and future
- To continue this venture towards website development with an E-zine focus
- Work with other Non Governmental organizations old and new towards similar focus and objectives
- To find common ground on issues affecting GLBTQ and straight friendly persons in Jamaica towards tolerance and harmony
- Exposing homophobic activities and suggesting corrective solutions
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Individuals who are mentioned or whose photographs appear on this site are not necessarily Homosexual, HIV positive or have AIDS.
This blog contains pictures that may be disturbing. We have taken the liberty to present these images as evidence of the numerous accounts of homophobic violence meted out to alledged gays in Jamaica.
Faces and names witheld for the victims' protection.
This blog not only watches and covers LGBTQ issues in Jamaica and elsewhere but also general human rights and current affairs where applicable.
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Recent Homophobic Incidents
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Steps to Take When Contronted or Arrested by Police
b) Only give name and address and no other information until a lawyer is present to assist
c) Try to be polite even if the scenario is tensed) Don’t do anything to aggravate the situation
e) Every complaint lodged at a police station should be filed and a receipt produced, this is not a legal requirement but an administrative one for the police to track reports
f) Never sign to a statement other than the one produced by you in the presence of the officer(s)
g) Try to capture a recording of the exchange or incident or call someone so they can hear what occurs, place on speed dial important numbers or text someone as soon as possible
h) File a civil suit if you feel your rights have been violatedi) When making a statement to the police have all or most of the facts and details together for e.g. "a car" vs. "the car" represents two different descriptions
j) Avoid having the police writing the statement on your behalf except incases of injuries, make sure what you want to say is recorded carefully, ask for a copy if it means that you have to return for it