News

Jamaican Town Expels Gay Men, Lesbians

by Kilian Melloy
Tuesday Nov 3, 2009

GLBT online news sources have picked up on a story about a Jamaican town where a "Gay Eradication Day" had been proclaimed that advocated expelling all gay and lesbian residents on Apr. 26, 2007.

The original article was posted by The Jamaica Star. Two and a half years later, The Stranger's Dan Savage picked up the story on his blog on Oct. 30, 2009.

An article that same day appeared at Digital Journal.com, which reported that the people of East Kingston's McGregor Gully had given gays there two weeks to get out--with Oct. 30 reported as being the deadline. The article repeated the Jamaica Star's report that local residents declared that any gays still in the town after the deadline would "suffer the consequences."

Pam's House Blend followed suit on Nov. 2, 2009. A later correction at Pam's House Blend said that emails had alerted the blog's author as to the confusion; the story, however, seemed as though it could have been ripped from today's headlines. Noted the blogger, "As far as I know there hasn't been any improvement regarding Jamaica's well-known homophobia, well-documented in Amnesty International's 2009 Records."

An EDGE article also appeared, on Nov. 3. The article was amended later that same day.

Hompohobia is deeply rooted in Jamaican culture, and is reflected both in the country's music and its religious traditions, which are informed by the Rastafarian faith and evangelical Christianity. Anti-gay attacks have been widely reported in recent years; anti-gay mobs have attacked and murdered gays, going so far as to break into private homes to carry out acts of anti-gay violence.

The justification given by residents of McGregor Gully echoed the rationales cited by anti-gay groups in the United States. Residents claimed that they were acting in defense of their families, the article said, as well as to protect the reputation of their community.

Anti-gay claims in McGregor Gully also echoed American anti-gay accusations of public sex committed by gays. Locals claimed that lesbians would congregate at a specific spot to "kiss, hug, and even touch each other," the article said, but anger at the lesbians spilled over onto gay men as well.

The article reported that the residents swore to ensure that their town was "gay free," and that they were willing to take "extreme measures" to accomplish their goal. Such "extreme measures" have, in past instances, included kicking, beating, and machete attacks.

Critics of Jamaican homophobia say that government officials, including the police, do not offer gays there any protection, often merely watching as mobs attack gays or else participating in beatings and other abuses themselves.

American gay Christian group Metropolitan Community Church has sought to intervene in anti-gay violence in Jamaica, though with little success. American LGBT equality groups have also encouraged tourism boycotts of the island nation, as well as protesting a recent American tour of "murder music" dance hall star Buju Banton, whose song "Boom Bye Bye" describes shooting gays in the head and then burning their bodies.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.


Comments

  • , 2009-11-03 11:08:45

    Hate doesn’t fix hate. There are plenty of violent white homophobes in the world, so don’t try to turn this into a justification of racism.


  • T-Zero, 2009-11-03 15:32:46

    You might want to better check your sources. This deadline wasn’t October 30 2009. Pam’s House Blend picked up and reported on this story as well. But if you check the original source article it was published in April 2007.


  • T-Zero, 2009-11-03 15:38:09

    Here is the original Jamaica Star link http://www.jamaica-star.com/thestar/20070426/news/news1.html If you note, the article AND link date are 26 April 2007.


  • , 2009-11-03 22:19:26

    I have to say i am a lot depressed and feel the burden to be LGBT. Actually, I know many successful story for my circle of LGBT friends on --BiMingle .C om-- . but also some sad ones as Sarah. I am not sure how to confirm her. But i do hope things will be better for her.


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