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Monday, 9 March 2009

Travel Warning - Stay Away From Jamaica

By Timothy Kincaid

jamaica-flag.bmpSailing in a cruise liner has always been an economical way to vacation. You are fed great food, pampered by courteous staff, entertained, and your accommodations move themselves each night to a new beach or breath-taking jungle, all for a set price lower than what you would expect to pay at a decent hotel.

With the economy tanking, cruise lines are offering huge discounts to lure those who still have a job into a fun, romantic week at sea. And those sitting today in freezing weather in Midwest states no doubt find the promise of warm Caribbean breezes to be tempting.

But if you are planning a cruise in the Caribbean, please be warned. Avoid Jamaica.

This impoverished island nation has long been known to be violently hostile to anyone perceived to be gay. BTB has reported before on mob killings and public beatings. The culture of this country prides itself on its intolerance and hostility and loudly proclaims acceptance - if not encouragement - of violence towards gays. All of the voices of authority, be they community, political, media, or religious, are virtually unanimous in defense of the abusers and in condemnation of gay victims.

This has led to strained relations with Jamaica’s protector, the United Kingdom. But the local people are resolved that they will not accommodate the attitudes of Europe or the Americas and tolerate their gay children. This week Bruce Golding, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, reiterated their stance.

Golding told Parliament on Tuesday that gay rights advocates are ”perhaps the most organized lobby in the world” and he vowed to preserve the country’s 145-year-old anti-sodomy law that prohibits sexual acts between men.

“We are not going to yield to the pressure, whether that pressure comes from individual organisations, individuals, whether that pressure comes from foreign governments or groups of countries, to liberalise the laws as it relates to buggery,” he said.

This language is not simply a stance taken by a politician; it represents a deep and pervasive homophobic culture. Gay men and women are in real danger in that country. A friend of mine, a Jamaican man whose orientation has been the subject of significant media discussion, told me that he fears to return to visit his family.

Nor do Jamaicans seem to feel any shame for their culture of violence and hatred.

It has been nearly a year since I last posted about Jamaica. Yet it is seldom that two weeks go by without someone of Jamaican descent commenting. And while none expressed a desire to work against homophobia in their community, many indignantly demand that I cease criticizing their culture. A typical comment might be this one which was posted today:

Jamaica is a safe place to visit just that we do not support the immoral and sadomistic behaviours of gays,and we will not let litttle tourists dollars erase our culture- wasnt slavery enough for u people.If u are STRAIGHT its safe to come on the island in the sun-jamaica.u gays need Jesus.

I do feel compassion for the people. The poor are always the hardest hurt in an economic downturn.

But these people joyously cling to traditions of violence and religions of hatred and, frankly, you just aren’t safe in their country. There is no safety for you because “u need Jesus”.

But even if you aren’t gay and think that this may not really affect you, please recall that those who can justify the murder of me can quickly find a justification for mistreatment of you. No doubt you too are a proudly wicked abomination in the eyes of those who justify their own evil.

So if you are considering a cruise that includes a stop in Jamaica, please reconsider. While the island has great physical beauty, its soul is seething with hatred and you are its target.

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