Sold out for 30 pieces of silver?
HEART TO HEART
One of the interesting nuances of Jamaican society is the way in which information pertinent to the country is released from sources outside of our borders. It leads one to ask serious questions about the respect our leaders have for the people of Jamaica and the ramifications of those issues being externally disclosed and discussed.
The latest revelation came last week when Time magazine disclosed that Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller had called for "full civil rights for gays and lesbians". In listing Mrs Simpson Miller among their 100 most influential persons in the world, the report stated, "Simpson Miller began her second stint in six years as Jamaica's PM, and she's kicking off the country's 50th anniversary of independence by calling for the island to sever ties with the British monarchy. More impressive, however, is that she did something few thought possible in one of the world's most homophobic nations; she called for full civil rights for gays and lesbians. One has to understand Jamaica's violently anti-homosexual history to appreciate her courage which could resonate throughout the region if she's successful." Next to the Time magazine report is the photograph of Mrs Simpson Miller and a caption that noted that voting for the candidates for the 100 list had closed.
Obviously Time magazine knows much more than we the people of Jamaica know. When did the prime minister call for "full civil rights for gays and lesbians, and is there information that the magazine is privy to that we are unaware of here at home? If Time magazine misquoted the prime minister, how is it that we have not had a retraction from Jamaica House?
For a matter with such far-reaching national implications, I am surprised that there has been such complete silence from the administration since the story made international news.
It seems to me that the Jamaican people deserve the respect of a full and detailed disclosure as to exactly what, if anything, the Simpson-led administration may have promised the international gay community prior to and after the general election.
During the election campaign, the Jamaica Labour Party publicly questioned the People's National Party as to whether or not the party received funding from the international gay community. In light of last week's developments, those unanswered questions may now have greater relevance.
What the country knows is that during the pre-election debate, Mrs Simpson Miller stated that she would not be averse to reviewing the country's buggery law, which in my view is in and of itself problematic. What the country did not hear was that she called for "full equal and civil rights for gays and lesbians", and quite frankly, we don't know what that really means.
Equally disturbing is the offensive and inaccurate description of Jamaica as "one of the most homophobic places on earth", and a country with a "violently anti-homosexual history". Not only am I unaware that any global survey has ever been done, but as far as I understand it, Jamaicans are Christians, not homophobes. I for one have no "phobia" for anything or anyone. As a Christian society, it is God's word that is paramount, and not the dictates of any group, internal or external. The argument that Jamaica is one of the most homophobic places on earth is consequently a moot point.
Even more astounding is the allegation that we are a country with a "violently anti-homosexual history". It is time that Jamaicans debunk that lie that has been circulating for far too long. Where are the statistics to substantiate that sweeping generalisation?
There is no doubt that Jamaica is a violent society. Every year in excess of 1200 people are murdered including young men, the elderly, women and children. Babies have been shot; children murdered and dismembered - even beheaded, among other gross atrocities. Many, if not most of those cases remain unsolved, so that any broad statement involving any particular grouping in the society, without the requisite research and documentation, would unfortunately remain unsubstantiated. Let me hasten to say that no murder or act of violence against any individual or group can and should be justified.
While I'm aware that there is mounting pressure from outside forces for Jamaica to repeal its buggery law in the first instance, I would caution the prime minister about any hasty decision, particularly in light of the growing allegations of the buggery of small children. As far as I am concerned, there can be no review of the law until a detailed and thorough study is done about buggery, especially its impact on the most vulnerable in the society.
Jamaica is a country characterised by the abuse of power and the vast expanse between the "haves" and the "have-nots". The access and ability to sexually violate a child, both by heterosexuals and homosexuals is immense and easy, and there is a lot of it going on. Children of the poor, and especially those who are homeless and without parental care, are particularly at risk. Even more damning is their inability to access justice and restitution through the courts.
What the prime minister should do, now that she is among the world's most influential people, is to use her status to highlight the horrific sexual atrocities being meted out to the children of the poor in Jamaica and to seek help to improve their condition. What we need is a "buy-in", not a "sell-out" - and for how much? Thirty pieces of silver?