Your editorial of Friday, April 9 was an important contribution to the dialogue which needs to occur in Jamaica about tolerance of socially marginalised groups. There were, however, some unfortunate elements in the piece which could derail the understanding needed to advance this dialogue.
To begin, your dismissive title, "On tolerating homosexuals and such", could contribute to the very intolerance you seem to reject in the body of the editorial.
Second, framing the Walk for Tolerance in Montego Bay against the background of a failed gay march 20 years ago - an inaccuracy, as no such march was ever planned - creates the impression that the Walk was a veiled gay march. This is patently false.
The truth is that 13 organisations working with a variety of groups vulnerable to HIV because of social stigma participated in the nearly 100-person strong Walk. Some of them were gays and lesbians; most were not.
Please note that following the Walk, four young men had to flee their communities because of the irresponsible characterisation of it as a gay march by sections of the media. Third, the term "prostitutes" is derogatory and has long been rejected in favour of "sex workers" as it has been recognised that these individuals are engaging in
Finally, the Jamaican gay and lesbian community has not engaged in "offensive attempts to ram acceptance of their lifestyle down the throats of the majority of people in this country". The truth is that the Jamaican gay and lesbian community has constantly sought dialogue on the need for the recognition of the fundamental rights to privacy and freedom of expression for sexual minorities. Over its 11-plus year history,
J-FLAG and other gay rights organisations have exercised significant restraint in agitating for the rights of gays and lesbians, a fact which has resulted in our being blamed for the very slow pace of change and the relatively high level of intolerance of gays and lesbians in this society.
We have never, for example, despite strong pressure to do so, supported any calls for boycott of Jamaica or Jamaican products by international gay and lesbian organisations as we thought this would be harmful to our goal of constructive social engagement.