Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Three years ago, Time Magazine named Jamaica “The Most Homophobic Place on Earth,” and since that time the island has not seen much in the way of progress.

An organization called Boycott Jamaica has taken the initiative, asking all gays and friends of the community to avoid the nation “until the Jamaican government takes action to end the country’s virulently homophobic climate and draconian laws that persecute homosexuals.”In February, The New York Times published a story calling Jamaica a “dire place for gays,” telling the story of 5 gay men who were having an at-home dinner party when the front door was kicked in and they were beaten savagely by 15-20 men with machetes.
This type of attack has become too commonplace on the island, which still outlaws homosexuality under the crime “buggery.” Even funerals have proven to be unsafe territory if the deceased is a homosexual, as just last year a church was attacked by a mob armed with bottles and rocks. No one involved in that incident was even prosecuted. According to the Times article, while the Jamaican public defender condemned the church attack, “he also reinforced the common view that if only gays would be less flamboyant, there would be less violence against them.” This being the state of things on the island, “Jamaica’s gays socialize at underground nightclubs and worship at secret church services that move around the island.” Boycott Jamaica has made two demands of the nation, the first being a public commitment to end gay bashing and improve the island’s human rights situation, and the second being a statement from the Prime Minister condemning violence against the LGBT community and an expression of regret for past violence. Until these two demands are met, the organization claims its official boycott is in effect.The boycott is focused on the three largest sources of Jamaica’s national income – sale of Myers’s Rum, sale of Red Stripe beer, and money made from the cruise industry. New York’s Stonewall Inn is planned a “rum dump” on Wednesday evening, showing its support of the boycott against Jamaica by dumping Red Stripe and Myers’s Rum down the sewer. The bar had this to say in its statement: “We ask all people of all walks of life to send a clear message to the Jamaican people and their government, that as long as they continue to allow and condone violence and hatred toward the Gay community, we will neither buy their products nor support their tourist trade. To do so is to tacitly support the current climate of oppression.”

Friday, April 17, 2009


During this hard economic time another boycott on Jamaica’s tourism and goods will not be the best solution to Jamaica’s homophobia at this time, as we have seen before EGALE Canada had tried to boycott Jamaica goods and services including tourism, That international call had let to an increase in attack on the LGBT community, even on the lesbian population that has some acceptance. The calling of another boycott from another country clearly state that our conditions of living as reach the international community, with the call now coming from San Francisco, U.S.A.

The group is calling for a boycott on tourism and Jamaica’s top beer company Red Stripe, OUTWEEKLY do not support the call for an international boycott on Red Strip, this decision comes after Red Stripe made a proud and bold move to stop sponsoring events with Jamaican Dancehall artists who incite murder on homosexuals, It was only last month at there first live fund raising event, Red Strip prematurely ended the performance of the homophobic artist Jeffery Campbell (Assassin) where he use the term “fish” (gay man) in a negative term in one of his songs. However we have to question Red Strip decision to have Jeffery Campbell in there line up in the first, knowing that he publicly express his anti-gay views in his music. The issues of homophobia in Jamaican dancehall music has reach world wide, with various groups in different countries lobbing against it, and with positive moves like this we have seen a decline in murder music.

We share the same frustration that the US base group as on the issue of homosexual rights in the country, but boycott and threat is not going to make Mr. Bruce Golding and his cabinet of “straight,” think any better of us. Threats of Boycott can be made in your country where homosexuality and its acts are legal, and get a positive out come, but it will be a different case for us here in Jamaica, where the slightest suspicion of you been a homosexual can lead to verbal and physical abuse even death. In your country the fight for gay marriage is on the agenda, Jamaica is by far not close to that, we are stilling fighting for social change yet alone the removal of the Buggery Act. We are urging the US-base group who are leading this boycott to remove Red Strip off there list of products that they will be calling for to boycott, also urging others who decide to boycott Jamaica to do there research and communicate with local LGBT groups before they decide to go ahead with there plans.

We understand that the gay rights movement world wide is a force to be reckoning with, and any one who is targeted by this movement will have a rough time. In this hard economic time where countries are struggling, the call for an international boycott will only lead to more jobs cut and the closing of business, which include homosexual business as well.

In a time where homosexuality is now been place on “the plate” of issues that Jamaica is facing, it will not be wise to have boycott campaigns on the islands, for every action there will be repercussions, let us engage in positive things that’s will not jeopardize our safety, such as: more public campaign denouncing homophobia, the education of the society to different lifestyle and different family structure, the sanitization of Government official and church leaders, which are some of the key areas that are contributing to homophobia in Jamaica. With that said this is a call to local activists that the fight for our right in this country will not be achieve only by individuals, but the collective effort, support and determination of us all.

Kenneth Davis,

"together we stand divided we fall"

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Gay rights activists clash over tackling Jamaican homophobia

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, 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.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Gay marriage legal in Vermont

MONTPELIER, Vt. - Vermont on Tuesday became the fourth state to legalize gay marriage — and the first to do so with a legislature's vote.

The House recorded a dramatic 100-49 vote — the minimum needed — to override Gov. Jim Douglas' veto. Its vote followed a much easier override vote in the Senate, which rebuffed the Republican governor with a vote of 23-5.
Vermont was the first state to legalize civil unions for same-sex couples and joins Connecticut, Massachusetts and Iowa in giving gays the right to marry. Their approval of gay marriage came from the courts.Tuesday morning's legislative action came less than a day after Douglas issued a veto message saying the bill would not improve the lot of gay and lesbian couples because it still would not provide them rights under federal and other states' laws.
Override 'not unexpected'Douglas called override "not unexpected." He had called the issue of gay marriage a distraction during a time when economic and budget issues were more important.

"What really disappoints me is that we have spent some time on an issue during which another thousand Vermonters have lost their jobs," the governor said Tuesday. "We need to turn out attention to balancing a budget without raising taxes, growing the economy, putting more people to work."
House Speaker Shap Smith's announcement of the vote brought an outburst of jubilation from some of the hundreds packed into the gallery and the lobby outside the House chamber, despite the speaker's admonishment against such displays.
Among the celebrants in the lobby were former Rep. Robert Dostis, D-Waterbury, and his longtime partner, Chuck Kletecka. Dostis recalled efforts to expand gay rights dating to an anti-discrimination law passed in 1992.

"It's been a very long battle. It's been almost 20 years to get to this point," Dostis said. "I think finally, most people in Vermont understand that we're a couple like any other couple. We're as good and as bad as any other group of people. And now I think we have a chance to prove ourselves here on forward that we're good members of our community."
Dostis said he and Kletecka will celebrate their 25th year together in September.
"Is that a proposal?" Kletecka asked.
"Yeah," Dostis replied. "Twenty-five years together, I think it's time we finally got married."
The House initially passed the bill last week with a 95-52 vote.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Sweden approves same-sex marriage

Six of the seven parties in Swedish parliament have backed a proposal to introduce a gender-neutral marriage law.

The proposal passed today with a 261 to 22 vote and 16 abstentions.
The only party to oppose the ruling were the Christian Democrats, stating that the party wanted to maintain "a several hundred-year-old concept" of marriage.
It is not yet certain that the changes will affect church marriage ceremonies, but in February, a majority of Church of Sweden bishops said the church should no longer handle legal marriage registrations, DPA reported.

The new legislation comes into effect as of May 1st, replacing the current legislation established in 1995 approving registered partnership much like civil partnerships in the UK.
Couples with a 'registered partnership' can either retain this status or apply to the relevant authorities to have it amended.
The president of the Swedish Federation for LGBT Rights, Soren Juvas, called the ruling “a great victory” and Evon Frid of the Left Party said it was “a positive change”.
A poll for the Sifo Institute published in January 2008 found that 71 per cent of Swedes think gay people should be allowed to marry.

In January 2007 the Church of Sweden, which was disestablished in 2000, began offering religious blessings to gay unions and actively welcomed LGBT clergy.
A Lutheran denomination, it claims more than 7 million members out of a population of 9 million
Last year the Church agreed that marriage and partnership were equivalent forms of unions.
It recommended however that the term "marriage" be referred only to heterosexual couples.