JCSC response to anti-gay mass meeting comes late in the day
The Jamaica Civil Society Coalition (JCSC) — whose membership includes J-FLAG, the gay lobby group — has issued a very sensible statement, spurred no doubt by Sunday's well-attended mass meeting by the church and allied groups against homosexuality.
The sentiments expressed in the JCSC statement issued on July 1, 2014, are well considered and, in our view, are a viable basis on which the Jamaican nation can conduct the social negotiations about the homosexual lifestyle, repeal of the so-called buggery law and about finding a way to ensure that we can all get along, despite our differences.
Pity, of course, that the statement came so late in the day and had to await, apparently, the flexing of its considerable muscles by the church and the many groups that massed in Half-Way-Tree, St Andrew.
As we have pointed out time and again in this space, the gay leadership must accept responsibility for the manner in which it has conducted its campaign to secure rights for the homosexual constituency. We continue to believe that the society in general, including the church, had been gradually ceding space to the gay members of the Jamaican family, until the perceived bullying began, evidenced by the Professor Brendan Bain issue and latterly the infiltration of private homes for children with anal sex material.
Prior to that, there was the attempt to slip similar material into the school textbook stream, without the kind of consultation and approval that goes with the process. Assuming that J-FLAG approved the statement, we hope that some important lessons have been learnt. In this vein, we highlight and commend the following excerpts from the JCSC statement:
"The Jamaica Civil Society Coalition is deeply concerned about the manner in which the current debate about the repeal or retention of the sections of the Offences against the Person Act related to anal intercourse is being conducted. We urge all the individuals, groups and organisations involved to advocate their cause in a manner which reflects a greater spirit of mutual respect and consideration.
"Whatever our differences...Every Jamaican citizen is deserving of a hearing and of equal protection under the law of the land and under the principles of human rights to which we are signatories...We need to bring an end to inflammatory and dismissive statements and to the stigmatisation of entire groups based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, religious convictions or other difference of whatever kind. Indeed, such approaches invariably lead to social strife as well as intentional and unintentional harm...
"We, in all our diversity, share a common humanity. None of us is well served by the hard line, condemnatory or disrespectful tone of many utterances on the topic. We must exercise care that we do not create divisions so deep that we lose the potential for working together on some of the many other challenges we face as a nation. We call on all the actors in the debate to set an example of leadership grounded in a willingness to permit all voices to be heard."