Ilan Greenburg, a journalist based out of New York, has written a two part article within the last year regarding homosexuality in Jamaica, both highly critical of what, in short he perceives as follows:
“… in no arena is dancehall—and Jamaican society overall—more troubled than in grappling with sexual orientation. Blaring on most street corners and from car radios, dancehall’s virulent homophobia, a curdled hatred for homosexuals explicitly and pervasively articulated in the music’s lyrics and deeply entrenched in dancehall culture, foments a quotidian reign of terror against Jamaican gay people.”
I want to state first and foremost that I am not in support of any bias against homosexuals. Quite frankly my opinion is who, where and when someone chooses to have sex is a private matter that should remain that way-as long as it involves consenting adults. I am however disgusted and outraged at the idiotic manner in which (usually) American journalists/media people want to summarily dictate how Jamaicans should act, legislate and think.
Why is Jamaica continually singled out? While I don’t condone the official or unofficial position of the Jamaican government and the people-my people-on homosexuality, I am in 100% support of the right of Jamaica as a sovereign nation to make those decisions, without interference, criticism or the moral high horse of the USA. Let’s not forget for a second that this country cannot quite figure out how to deal with the same issue of discrimination against gays in their own house. Or am I the only one who has heard all of the rhetoric and sparring back and forth regarding gays in the military and the stupid “don’t ask don’t tell” policy?
I have to question why aren’t magazines such as Guernica, who published this piece by Mr. Greenburg, asking the same questions of other countries? Several other countries that enjoy very, very favorable status with the US and its people; countries where-just like Jamaica- homosexuality/buggering is a criminal act-are never singled out for criticism, discussion, rancor or debate the way Jamaica is. Its not even mentioned by American officials and the crusading journalists aren’t asking why that is.
United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Pakistan, Trinidad and Qatar are some of the countries with laws currently on their books criminalizing homosexuality. In Barbados, Guyana, Trinidad and Saudi Arabia they punish ‘offenders’ with life in prison (25 plus years) or the death penalty. These other countries legally persecute and execute homosexuals or alleged homosexuals much more than the small section of Jamaica’s 2 million people that have and would be engaged in that sort of activity.
Just this week, Sepp Blatter, the head of FIFA, the regulatory body of soccer opined when asked if he could foresee any cultural problems with the tournament being held in Qatar.
His response: “I’d say they [gay fans] should refrain from any sexual activities,”
Where is the indignation, calls of boycott, and crusading journalists swooping down on Qatar, Blatter and FIFA for this malfeasance? What say you, Mr. Greenburg? Or is your righteous indignation only narrow enough to focus on Jamaica?
Anti-homosexuality (buggering) laws, mostly vestiges of the British colonial legal system in Jamaica and many other places, are archaic and quite simply wrong. England, the historical purveyor of many of these precedents and laws changed their own laws in 1967, more than 40 years ago. But when media people such as Mr. Greenburg write about violence and hate towards homosexuals, they always, invariably focus on Jamaica. Never Pakistan. Nor Saudi Arabia. No mention about the other islands further down in the Caribbean with very harsh penalties against gays. Whether these laws are enforced in these countries is not the point or issue. They exist so the assumption correctly should be that they can be enforced at the discretion of law enforcement. My issue then is simply this: what is the real agenda behind continuously singling out Jamaica?
Jamaica and Jamaicans have a right to govern their country as they see fit. The fact that some, not all Jamaicans don’t pretend to offer the blatant lip service that many, many parts the USA and its people do towards those who are different is not to be applauded, but bears noting. What gives anyone in these great United States the right to pass judgment, to scream for boycotts and agitate?
The system in Jamaica will and has to change from the inside, not from the high handed gobbledygook of a country that has shown its own twisted reluctance to fully embrace its own issues with the subject of homosexuality.
Get back to me when America is fully ready to stand and commit to the moral standard it talks about but invariably fail to live up.