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J-FLAG: Jamaica ‘progressively tolerant’ of gays but... 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

KINGSTON, Jamaica — Lobby group Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) has responded to statements from a police expert that Jamaica is more tolerant of gays than previously thought.

In a statement yesterday Dane Lewis, executive director, the lobby group said in fact Jamaicans were “progressively tolerant”, and the country “has made some progress, albeit not uniformly as a society, in respecting the humanity, dignity and equality of LGBT persons”.

However, the group said, JFLAG is under no illusion that the sentiments expressed by persons like Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, who had a “mature approach on the issue, in contrast to the confident bigotry displayed by her predecessor”, represent the view of the majority.

“We are still comfortable, as a nation, in expressing bigoted positions towards a community that wants no more than to love those adult persons who love them in return, free from the spectre of harassment, victimisation and persecution,” J-FLAG said.

“Admirable public statements and pockets of increased tolerance towards the LGBT community should not negate the reality of the discrimination and violence being experienced,” the group added. “J-FLAG receives almost daily calls, emails and walk-in reports of persons being kicked out of their homes, physically assaulted, raped and verbally abused because of who they are.”

The group had especially harsh words for Les Green, former assistant commissioner of police who last week rubbished a common claim by the gay community and international rights groups that homosexuals in Jamaica are victims of wanton murder, mob-mauling and marginalisation, and columnist Betty Ann Blaine, who said “when Les Green speaks people listen” in her column The Big Gay Lie.

The former Scotland Yard detective said his findings showed that the majority of gay killings are carried out by members of the gay community.

Blaine, for her part, said the gay community appears determined to achieve the wholesale societal acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle, even if it goes against the country's cultural norms and Christian beliefs

“The truth is that there needs to be a deeper analysis of these murder cases of persons in “relationships and domestic situations” from the usual resignation to ‘crime of passion’ label,” J-FLAG said.

“If a gay man is murdered in his home with no visible sign of forced entry it does not automatically mean his lover killed him. And even so, it must be thoroughly investigated and the perpetrator brought to justice nonetheless. Our willingness to park in this position and move no further is most startling... so many of us resign ourselves to a fallacy that gays are jealous and out to kill themselves.”

The group said Jamaica certainly has a vibrant thriving homosexual community, “no one denies this, but Jamaica has a far way to go in normalising its relationship with those of its citizens who find themselves being counted among the ‘other’.”

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