Tuesday, April 14, 2009

JFLAG Wanted Link to Boycott Organizer's Blog;
Supported Action With Jamaican Consul

In a widely circulated email, headlined "Why Didn't You Ask If We Wanted A Boycott?," leaders of the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians Allsexuals and Gays make known their opposition to the boycott.

The headline ignores the fact that boycott organizers did reach out to JFLAG, before the boycott was launched.

One of my first emails to the group was about my efforts to engage the Jamaican honorary consul in San Francisco in dialogue about my concerns over gay human rights abuses in his country, and the consul operating out of Department of Public Health facility.

Here was our exchange:

From: "mpetrelis@aol.com"
To: info@jflag.org; websupport@jflag.org; testimonies@jflag.org
Sent: Tuesday, March 10, 2009 5:45:39 PM
Subject: San Francisco, Jamaican consulate and health department

Dear Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays,

I am a gay leader in San Francisco who works on global gay issues and I'm very concerned about the mistreatment of gay people in Jamaica.

Recently, several gays here became aware of the fact that San Francisco Department of Public Health rents an office at our municipal hospital to the Jamaican government and that this office on city property serves as the consulate.

Needless to say, we are very unhappy that our government rents office space to the homophobic government of Jamaica and we want our health department to immediately cancel the lease that allows the government to maintain a consulate on public property.

We feel the Jamaican government should be forced to vacate its offices at the municipal hospital and find more suitable consular office space in a private office building.

What are your thoughts about this project of ours to put local media and gay community attention on the hateful policies and statements of Jamaican politicians that violate the human rights protections of gay people?

Please give us your feedback. We welcome a direct dialogue with you.

Sincerely yours,
Michael Petrelis
Ph: 415-621-6267

From: Jason MacFarlane
To: mpetrelis@aol.com
Sent: Mon, 16 Mar 2009 11:27 am
Subject: Re: San Francisco, Jamaican consulate and health department

Dear Michael,

I am so sorry for the tardy response. We are trying to see who we have from Jamaica in San Francisco.
We believe that the offices should be picketed and media generated around the issue.
Please allow us some time to gather our resources and see what other kinds of support we can get as well.
It would be good to have some other allies join you in this effort.


Jason McFarlane
Programmes Manager
Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays - J-FLAG
I also made Jason aware of my efforts to organize a boycott against Jamaica. I sent him the link to this post of mine, which mentions the boycott in the headline and body.

This was his reply:

From: Jason MacFarlane
To: MPetrelis@aol.com
Sent: Mon, 16 Mar 2009 5:50 pm
Subject: Re: State Dept: Target shootings of gays in Jamaica; Boycott developing

can you place a link to our blog on yours? see our address in my closing

Jason McFarlane
Programmes Manager
Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays - J-FLAG

A week later I sent him this email and also made a call to his office in Jamaica. He didn't get back to me:

Hi Jason,

I will telephone you in a short while to discuss the boycott against Jamaican musicians who endorse killing gay people, and the boycott of Jamaican rum that I am organizing in San Francisco.

Let's discuss the reasons why gays here are no longer willing to buy alcoholic products from Jamaica.

Best regards,
Michael Petrelis
Ph: 1-415-621-6267
While there certainly is disagreement between JFLAG and us boycott organizers, it is not correct to say we didn't attempt communication before the boycott started.

Be sure to read Wayne Besen's response to JFLAG at the BoycottJamaica.org site.

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