Monday, May 04, 2009

Alternatives to the Jamaica Boycott

In all battles for social change and justice, whether gay or straight, a multiplicity of approaches is necessary. No single approach is the answer to affect political change. It's wise of activists to never put all of their eggs in one basket.

That is why, in addition to helping organize a boycott of Jamaican liquor and tourism, I've also called and written to the Jamaican embassy in Washington and the honorary consul in San Francisco. I've attempted discussions with Jamaican officials, to convey my deep concerns for LGBT Jamaicans and the need overturn the buggery law, while also imploring others to do the same.

Since the boycott began, my colleagues Wayne Besen and Jim Burroway, and a number of LGBT Jamaicans on both sides of the boycott issue, have posed this basic question:

What alternative courses of action should be implemented?

No one has presented a list of alternatives, so I'm making an attempt now. A few suggestions to consider:

1. Send a letter to Prime Minister Bruce Golding, the old fashioned way, on paper and through snail mail. Inform him you care very much for the well-being and human dignity of LGBT Jamaicans, want all bashings and killings against LGBT citizens properly investigate and prosecuted, and that buggery law is anachronistic and uncivilized. Respectfully request a reply. Here is his address:
Prime Minister Bruce Golding
1 Devon Road
Kingston 6
Jamaica, West Indies
2. Make a copy of the letter, and send it to Anthony Johnson, Jamaica's ambassador to the United States. This is where to send it:
Ambassador Anthony Johnson
Embassy of Jamaica
1520 New Hampshire Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20036
3. Also let the Jamaican Tourist Board know your thoughts, and send the board a copy of that same letter. Mail it to:
Jamaican Tourist Board
5201 Blue Lagoon Drive
Suite # 670
Miami, Florida 33126
I believe snail mailing hard copies of your letters will have a greater impact than simply sending an email or making a telephone call. A letter, on paper, in an envelope, with a stamp affixed, delivers an extra message on top of the text of the letter. All those steps taken by the sender, shows the recipient the issue at hand deserves utmost attention.

4. Speaking of phone calls, give the Jamaican Tourist Board a call and let them know you're not traveling to the country because of the hostility and violence against LGBT people. The number is:
1-800-233-4582 , on Skype. The number spelled out, for non-Skype users is One-Eight-Hundred-233-4582.
You can also call Ambassador Johnson at the embassy in DC, and speak with his assistants, telling them why you want more government action to protect LGBT from mob attacks. The number is:
1-202-452-0660 , on Skype. For non-Skype phones, dial One-Two-Zero-Two-452-0660.
5. Donate money to JFLAG, Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, Allsexuals and Gays. For info about making a financial gift to JFLAG, check out this page on their site:
Some critics of the boycott have put more time and effort into halting the boycott, than they have making their voices heard by Jamaican government and tourism officials.

I ask those critics to write the prime minister, ambassador, send a check to JFLAG, phone the tourist board, and otherwise put forward additional ideas to complement the boycott. Heck, even supporters of the boycott should do all those things!

Be sure to visit for updates as the boycott moves forward.

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