Tolerance of gays and that buggery law

Monday, July 09, 2012    

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WE are pleased at the assertion by former Assistant Commissioner of Police Les Green that Jamaicans are "far more tolerant" of the homosexual lifestyle "than the public hype" suggests.

Many in Jamaica have been saying exactly that for a long time. But coming from an 'outsider' whose exemplary record at the high command level of the constabulary has gained him the respect of many makes the comment that much more credible, we believe.

Mr Green made another assertion, the truth of which most Jamaicans have long known. It is that the majority of murders in the gay community are the result of lovers' tiffs and jealousies, etc, and have nothing to do with 'hate' from the wider society.

And yet, while we contend that the Jamaican society is nowhere near as hostile towards gays as many make us out to be, there can be no denying the strong cultural and religious aversion.

In that regard, without saying so in as many words, Mr Green raised another issue that is worthy of contemplation. Are there reckless elements within the gay community who consciously set out to provoke?

Mr Green said: "I am not into gay bashing, but the problem is cross-dressing and going downtown. Do they do that to create a media blitz? That just seems too contrived."

We too wonder.

All that said, Jamaicans and their leaders must set about addressing human rights as it relates to homosexuals. It's an issue that will not go away. It's only going to get closer.

As we have said before in this space, the pressure has been building from the outside world. The European Union has long used aid and diplomacy as a tool in its quest to influence the liberalisation of laws relating to homosexuality in Third World countries.

The British and United States governments at one level or another have also shown intent to link aid to gay rights.

Many Jamaicans are still in shock after US President Mr Barack Obama said in May that he had come around to the position that same-sex marriage should be permitted.

Like it or not, that's the world we live in. No amount of Bible thumping or shouts of condemnation will change those realities.

So what, as a society, do we do? It seems to this newspaper that for one thing, the country needs to start the process towards consensus in order to rid itself of the centuries-old buggery law, that example of legislated discrimination against homosexuals.

Mrs Portia Simpson Miller is well placed to take the lead. Her political courage during last December's election campaign in pointing to the need to review that law gained the applause of many well-thinking Jamaicans. She had spoken at the time of a possible conscience vote by parliamentarians following appropriate consultations with their constituents.

Not that a conscience vote would necessarily lead to anything substantial. We need only recall the much-publicised vote on capital punishment and the absence of any action since.

However, for the gay community, and in the long run for the Jamaican society, even the formal debate surrounding such a conscience vote would be of great value.





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