VIDEO: More dialogue needed on gay issues — TVJ head

VIDEO: More dialogue needed on gay issues — TVJ head

BY AINSWORTH MORRIS Sunday Observer writer

Sunday, August 21, 2011

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KAY Osborne, the general manager of Television Jamaica, (TVJ) has called on Jamaicans to start having more amicable dialogue on the controversial issue of homosexuality.

According to Osborne, Jamaican society has reached a point where the intolerance of homosexuality needs to be addressed through civil and more respectful conversations.

"Conversation is not confrontation. Conversation is not a demand. It is not a 'you shall'. It is not a 'you must'. It is a 'let us converse together'. It is dialogue.

"Conversation is honest dialogue among stakeholders who acknowledge, value and respect the position and attitudes and values of people on the other side. In my view, we must be ready for that conversation," Osborne said.

She was the guest speaker at the 2011 JPS & Partners Co-operative Credit Union Limited's Annual Scholarship Awards Ceremony, held at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston last Thursday.

Osborne was speaking to TVJ's much-publicised decision not to air a public service announcement (PSA) presented by gay lobby -- Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG).

The PSA showed a former Miss Jamaica, Christine Straw, expressing love for her gay brother, and encouraging Jamaicans to show love and embrace their family members and friends who are either lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

The prospect of the PSA being broadcast on local television stations inspired a backlash from irate Jamaicans, many of whom do not support the gay lifestyle.

The TVJ general manager acknowledged that the culture of "good, moral and ethical Jamaicans, does not support homosexuality at this time", indicating that this was a reason behind TVJ's decision not to broadcast the PSA.

"Like it or not, they are right. This is truly where we are..." Osborne said.

However, she also opined that while this pervasive cultural intolerance of homosexuality cannot be ignored, citizens need to become a more friendly and create acless hostile society that can move towards narrowing the gap between bigotry and justice for all.

"Good, moral and ethical Jamaicans will understand that our obligation is to move forward as a country, towards becoming a more just society.

"In my view, it is time for informed conversation about intolerance and bigotry, about humanity and tolerance. A conversation about the kind of society that we live in, and the kind of society that we want to live in," Osborne told the audience.

The controversial J-FLAG PSA was launched last month with the lobby group hoping to have it aired on national television stations this month.

The issue was brought to public attention recently by the Sunday Observer in an article entitled 'Gay TV advert angers clerics', where local pastors lashed out at the PSA and its message.

TVJ said it would not air the PSA at this time, citing concerns about the structure of the announcement, among other things.

In the meantime, there is still no official word as to whether CVM, the other major television station, would consider carrying the pro-gay advert.

"No comment" was the response from the CVM Group's vice-president for marketing and sales Ronnie Sutherland.

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