Les Green's comments in the July 8 Sunday Observer are misleading! I don't understand his comments, but the media seem to be running away with them.
Jamaica is a very intolerant society when it comes to gays, no question. The buggery law itself is anti-gay, making men who have sex with men (MSM) actually illegal, so how could he say otherwise? While it would seem that most gay murders on the island might be gay-related, usually following similar gruesome patterns, murder is still murder. Is he saying that because it is gay-related, it's not as big a deal? Clearly, these murders are a symptom of a much bigger problem, when you have a society so filled with violence .
Murder is usually inspired by intolerance anyway, so regardless of the specifics I don't see how this former senior police officer could suggest otherwise. Ironically, he is also suggesting that cross-dressers in Jamaica are too contrived, I suppose too bold, by being themselves and going out in public in "drag". If Jamaicans are so tolerant, why would he make this comment to warn cross-dressers? Is it illegal to cross-dress? Why should I care, or be bothered if someone want to walk the streets in women's stockings? It is their lives, their way of self-expression, their art, not mine. I have seen cross-dressers in many major cities elsewhere, and though some may get a few stares, even laughs, generally there is no fear or prejudice.
Also, it is not just gay cross-dressers who are attacked in Jamaica, any sign of looking different or seemingly effeminate can inspire a random attack. I have read stories about bullying in schools of effeminate young students - this is totally unacceptable, another sign of cultural intolerance. I witnessed a mob attack in broad daylight on Oxford Road, where two guys who were perceived to be gay, just by their sense of style or mannerisms, had to run for their lives.
I have friends from New York who were visiting the island as tourists who also had to flee New Kingston Shopping Centre, because they dressed differently. Luckily a woman driving by saw what was happening and opened her car door to rescue them, and warn them of what exists even in those areas. So Les Green needs to think again. His stay in Jamaica has been relatively brief; he did not grow up in Jamaica, or experience all aspects of life there, to be making such generalised comments.
And I don't understand that recent police raid in St Ann either. It is one thing to go after criminals if they are involved with illegal stuff, but playing up the cross-dressing part seems like targeting a certain group, and this seems extremely odd to me. While one would agree that Jamaica has changed a lot over the years, due to the media, internet, TV and films which help societies in some ways to become more aware, it is very unfair to say that Jamaicans in general remain tolerant to issues pertaining to sexuality; this is very misleading. It wasn't too long ago our own former PM publicly stated in a BBC interview that gays could not serve in his Cabinet. Gays who don't even cross-dress are still subject to ridicule, bullying, prejudice, hate. I therefore urge the former Assistant Commissioner to seriously rethink his comments.