Monday, May 25, 2009

Mangoes, ganja and homophobia by Rebecca Parnell

Amnesty International UK

Mangoes, ganja and homophobia

I recently went to Jamaica for two weeks and gathered information on homophobia like a shelf gathers dust. It is imperative to realize that obviously not everyone within Jamaica is homophobic, just as anyone from a notoriously prejudiced background would not necessarily be prejudice themselves. But as a journalist it is sometimes necessary to present more bad facts than good, even if the end effect seems overly hyperbolic. Sometimes presenting a country in a way that may seem overly harsh is the only way that worldwide attention will be caught, and action taken. Recently Burundi took a step backwards in terms of gay rights by passing a law criminalising same-sex relations, and countless other countries are in the same position. Because there are law based rights for homosexuals within many developed countries, it can often be overlooked that in numerous other countries worldwide people are being persecuted and killed for being who they are. Photo

Homophobia in Jamaica

If Gordon Brown, Girls Aloud and the Metropolitan Police were openly homophobic there is little doubt that there would be outrage amongst the masses. It is a common belief that homosexuals should be allowed to roam free and experience the same basic human rights. After all, we’re not in Jamaica. Photo

Many dream of living in a country like Jamaica, basking in the sun, palm trees and azure skies. But if you are a homosexual in this country, you could not be further away from paradise. Despite being one of 16 common wealth countries in the world, with our own queen as their monarch, the Jamaican society is renowned for its ceaselessly homophobic attitudes, labeled by numerous human rights activists as ’the most homophobic place on earth'.

Such homophobia corresponds with the fact that in 2005 Jamaica had the highest homicide rate in the world. More than 1600 people were killed in that year, which equates to five murders each day. Despite being a small country with less than three million inhabitants, today the Jamaica is ranked with the fifth highest murder rate, forerunner only to countries such as Sierra Leone and Iraq. Yet when the prejudice that circulates the Jamaican culture and media is taken into account, such astoundingly high figures begin to make sense. For a country whose anthem is ‘Jamaica, Land We Love’, there appears to be little compassion when regarding prejudice towards minorities. Read complete article Photo

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