Friday 23 August, 2019

Jamaica is not a homophobic country, says councillor

Members of the Jamaican LGBT community march in Montego Bay, St James.

Members of the Jamaican LGBT community march in Montego Bay, St James.

Despite claims by local and international gay lobbyists that Jamaica is a fiercely homophobic country, one politician is contending otherwise.

For years, Jamaica has borne the label of a country which acts very violent against persons who are not of a heterosexual persuasion and gays, especially those of the male variety, are prone to mob attacks. Several homosexuals have, in the past, gained asylum in the United States, Britain and Canada arising out of these claims.

But Councillor for the Trafalgar Division and minority spokesperson on Building and Town Planning, Kari Douglas, says that label is an unjust one and is mythical to say the least.

Speaking with Loop News in the aftermath of a slew of robberies being carried out by cross dressing males who double as prostitutes and hang out in the busy hub of Half Way Tree in the Corporate Area, Douglas said homophobia is a thing of the past as most Jamaicans have grown more tolerant of persons who choose an alternative lifestyle.

Kari Douglas

“Jamaica could not be a homophobic country if there are so many upstanding, decent citizens who are gay, who are employed and not creating a nuisance like these guys,” Douglas said.

In recent weeks, a video recording has been going the rounds on social media of a gay pride march - organised by prominent activist, Maurice Tomlinson - in the second city of Montego Bay, St James. Douglas pointed to the fact that such a march could not be allowed to go on without incident in a country that is hostile to gays and lesbians.

“The gay pride march that was held in MoBay is proof that Jamaicans have become more tolerant of that lifestyle and that no one is being mobbed and killed for their sexual choices,” she said.

Douglas’ claim seems to ring true as a band of rowdy gay men continue to plague law-abiding citizens as they rob with seemingly impunity in close proximity to the headquarters of the St Andrew Central Police Division on a daily basis. So commonplace have these incidents become that cops at the Half Way Tree Police station know the robbers by their aliases.

Most of the cross-dressing thieves/prostitutes hail from inner city communities, areas which were once branded as highly intolerant of gay men and lesbians. However Douglas said there is proof that gays have lived in many inner city communities for years and have not been harmed.

Cross-dressing male thieves who double as prostitutes are wreaking havoc in Half Way Tree.

“Many of them live in the inner city and no one attempts to harm them,” she said.

Douglas’ claim underlines one made by outgoing Assistant Commissioner of Police, Les Green, who came under fire from gay lobbyists after he described as a myth claims that Jamaica was intolerant towards gays. Shortly before leaving the island after completing his stint in the constabulary, Green, who was seconded from Scotland Yard, said during his time in Jamaica as crime chief, 98 per cent of gays who were murdered were killed by other gays.

"I think Jamaica is far more tolerant than the public hype. There is a vibrant community in Jamaica and there isn’t the sort of backlash that some people say. I think we are much more tolerant and accepting. Just go around and you will see they are more flamboyant in the way they dress and behave as if they are comfortable with it. If that’s the case, why are they stigmatised?" Green said. 

"It’s just the hype from some who claim Jamaica is very anti-homosexual, but the reality is far from that. There are many homosexuals who live and work freely in Jamaica."

The cross-dressing criminals who have brought the negative spotlight on the gay community in Jamaica were once embraced by the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG), but due to the incorrigible and nefarious behavior of the men once known as the ‘Gully Queens’, the forum has disassociated itself. The men had reportedly stoned the Corporate Area based headquarters of JFLAG after members of the forum attempted to berate them over their untoward conduct.

“They used to go there and fight every day and behave in a most unbecoming manner,” Douglas said.

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