Monday, October 26, 2009

Gleaner: 'Jamaica is Deeply Homophobic'

As we enter the third week of intensely heated debate over the treatment and human rights abuses of gay Jamaicans, a debate reignited by a controversial meeting between homo-hating singer Buju Banton and gay activists, me included, the most widely-read paper in the nation, the Gleaner, has been doing its Hearstian best to keep throwing fuel on the fire. Rarely does a day go by without the paper finding reason to write about the meeting or gay people.

On Monday, in an extraordinarily candid editorial, the Gleaner admitted something no nation should be proud of. It claimed the island nation hates homosexuals. There is no hiding behind a pretense. Jamaica hates fags. The Rev. Fred Phelps would be right at home in the Cabinet.

It should be pointed out that the Gleaner's constant inflammatory gay coverage contributes to that hatred and it isn't just politicians who use gay people to advance harmful, and deadly agendas. The Jamaican press, including the Gleaner, more than do their part to bash gays.

Just look at how this editorial cites an attack on a man perceived to be gay because of his walk, was mob-attacked, then "happily" protected by the cops and he should thank his good luck for not getting maimed or killed. The Gleaner can't be bothered to condemn the mob, and call on the cops to _always_ help gay persons facing a bashing.

The editorial is prime example of how parts of Jamaican society say a few paragraphs about the awful violence against gays, but never go further and demand that the safety and security of gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender persons should be the norm.

From Monday's Gleaner, bolding is mine:
We wish to make two observations. First, when politicians are short of cogent and workable solutions, their default position, usually, is a reach for populist distractions - drawing the red herring, as it were.

The second is that the real test of a democracy is not only its ability to cater to the will of the majority, but how well it acknowledges and protects the rights of the minority, including people with whose ideas and concepts we may not agree. [...]

We have been drawn to think on these issues in part because of some of the tone of the parliamentary debate on Jamaica's proposed Charter of Rights, especially remarks by Prime Minister Bruce Golding and Opposition Leader Portia Simpson Miller. They reached for the lowest common denominator and [...] it was an appeal to their ever-narrowing political base. [...]

Significantly, however, there is no protection in this charter for the individual who faces discrimination because of his or her sexual orientation. A parliamentary committee that drafted the final recommendations contorted its way out of offering any such protection. [...]

The fact is, Jamaica is deeply homophobic, or pretends to be. Homophobia attends the country's sense of machismo; it frees us to go gay-bashing, and not just figuratively. Indeed, the week before the MPs began to sing their platitudes to the Charter of Rights, a young man was attacked by a mob for his perceived effeminate gait. Happily, he was rescued by the police, for which he might count himself lucky. [...]

The Jamaican Parliament, Mr Golding added, would not make same-sex unions legal - "not as long as I sit here". And he inveighed against gay-rights lobbyists who wanted to undermine the country's "values or culture".

Mrs Simpson Miller was not as extreme in hiding behind the supposed inability of leaders to be "too far in front of those who are being led" and for the positions of the majority to be taken "scrupulously into consideration".

What, in reality, was on display was weak leadership and, we fear, an unintended endorsement of abuse of and discrimination against people because of their sexual orientation.

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