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Homosexuality in Jamaica: The Views, The Harsh Realities  by Desriann Champagnie

Homosexuality is defined as sexual orientation characterized by sexual desire or romantic feelings exclusively for persons of the same sex. Homophobia is defined as a fear of gay men or gay lifestyle and culture, but are Jamaicans afraid of gay men? Statistics prove that we are not. Jamaicans view homosexuality from many perspectives, some of which I will highlight.

Biased: In Jamaica the term homosexual is used to describe only men who have sex with men, lesbians are excluded; it would seem as if lesbians aren't homosexual. Just the same violence against homosexual are mainly geared towards MSM. The buggery and gross indecency laws basically sanction discrimination against gay men. Lesbians may be discriminated against in the wider world however no laws target lesbians or lesbian conduct. Society on a whole is more tolerant of lesbians than gay men, lesbians acquire jobs, housing and general acceptance easier than gay men and they are less likely to face physical violence. We grew in a society that was always intolerant of boys being too close to each other yet it was ok for girls to be close, such traits remain in our society, it is like the norm. Damani's comment............ A gay reporter was in a bar in Montego Bay where he ask the bar maid what if her son turned out to be gay she said she would cut his throat. That's how deep the level of intolerance of homosexuals goes.

Nature or Nurture: "I was born gay" an article by Garwin Davis was about the life of a gay man who claimed he was born gay and God made all homosexuals that way. Nature or Nurture with regards to homosexuality is a highly debated topic where homosexuals strongly believe they were made that way, while in contrast the general public doesn't. Is there a gay gene? According to scientist homosexuality is linked to the levels of male or female hormones in a person's body. In 1993 Dean Hammer conducted a series of study on 40 pair of gay brothers. He discovered that all carried a segment of X chromosomes DNA known as Xq28. The family history of these men revealed that the males in their family were more predisposed to being gay. If it is indeed genetic, can we condemn them for something they cannot control? On the other side of the fence, it is argued that it cannot be innate nature because it is against the laws of God. Homosexuality is therefore said to be a choice. It is also suggested that adolescents are vulnerable and easily shaped into heterosexuality or homosexuality, based on their experience during that critical point in development. This social viewpoint suggests that anyone can be made into a homosexual based on his/her experience. The spiritual theory suggests that demon spirits possesses all homosexuals, and the only way to deal with same is through exorcism. This viewpoint is rather intolerant of any form of homosexual behavior, and is often times condemnatory. According to Errol Hall, noted Jamaican Evangelist, on a Television Jamaica broadcast, all persons who are homosexuals, be they lesbians or gays, are in need of him to lay hands on them and cast out the demons.

Violence and the law: Jamaica has been deemed one of the most virulently homophobic countries in the world where homophobes will throw rocks first and ask questions later. Gays living in Jamaica have to keep a low profile as there have been incidents where people have been stoned to death merely on the suspicion that of being gay. When a gay group proposed a march through the centre of Kingston to protest against homophobia, the machete factories on the island ran out of stock, needless to say that march was quickly abandoned. Violence against gay men in our country is widely advocated by a wide cross-section of our society. Actions are very extreme and inhumane with people going as far a to through sewage on them. Politicians ridicule them, the general public "bun dem", policemen abuse, harass and embarrass them. Policemen have been at the center of controversy as reports have shown that they are not "protecting and serving" all, instead they attack and hinder. The buggery law falls under section 76 of the offences against a person act, states that anal sex between two men and a man and a woman is illegal and if convicted is punishable by ten years hard labor. In Jamaica the law reflects a manifestly heterosexist world view, illustrated not only by the absence of any kind of protection based on sexual orientation but also the criminalization of male homosexual intimacy. On the afternoon of June 18, 2004, a mob chased and reportedly "chopped, stabbed and stoned to death" a man perceived to be gay in Montego Bay. Several witnesses reported to Human Rights Watch that police participated in the abuse that ultimately led to this mob killing, first beating the man with batons and then urging others to beat him because he was homosexual. Policemen alleged even harass people who work with MSM .I was out on the main road handing out condoms in an area known to be a gay area and the police came down and the men began to run. I stood my ground and I had a condom in my hand and the policemen asked me what I was doing there and the police asked me if I were a battyman. I had three boxes of about 100 condoms in my hand. . . . They said that they were going to charge me with loitering, but if they see me in the act they would kill me. And they said that they were going to charge me for loitering because they knew that I was a battyman because only a battyman would be handing out condoms to men. . . . I was accused of buying sex and being a battyman and charged with loitering. "If you are gay in Jamaica you are dead", that phrase is widely used by gays overseas. Even the bible however interpreted advocates violence against gays, Leviticus 20:13 If a man lies with a man as one lies with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They must be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads.

Morality and the church's stance: Here in Jamaica the Anglican Church has been quick to dissociate itself from its sisters and brothers in Europe and America who are more broad minded. The clerics and others know that it is almost impossible to have a reasoned and rational debate on homosexuality in Jamaica. While most churches are willing accept homosexuals to reform them they will not accept or condone their lifestyle. Homosexuals try to justify their practice simply because they say it springs from natural desire but morally they would they deem it wrong? The homosexual depends on his feelings and desires, what he sees as his nature as the determinant of his morality. The church however depends on the bible and church tradition to determine morality. It is clear that the bible condemns homosexual practice as several scriptures can be quoted, one being the one afore mentioned.

Realities: Homosexuals are in high places, in high positions and are highly powerful. Slowly but surely they are taking over. If we just take a look at society and realize the prevalence of them in our society compared to five years ago. Look how they have influenced our culture; men have the nerve to dress more effeminate now, the nerve to pierce both ears. Our artiste has been banned from doing their music overseas because homosexuals deem it inappropriate. Our tourism sectors have been bending over backwards to them because of the desire to attract tourism dollars from gays and lesbians who represent a $47.3 billion travel market. It is said that when America sneezes we catch a cold, so when moral decline there they decline here. Yes the government has declined the move to repeal the buggery law, but for how long, how long will it be before they crumble under the pressure of the elephant called homosexuality's feet. How long can the violence continue. Maybe we are trying to close the gate when the horse has bolted long ago.

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