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Exposing Jamaica’s anti-gay ‘Love March’

Jamaican Christians are marching for ‘sexual purity’ and against homosexuality – so is this a sign that a new approach to LGBT rights is needed?
Half Way Tree in Jamaica where the march against gays will end.

They call it ‘Love March 2012’ and it is scheduled to take place this Saturday (15 September) in Jamaica – but the name disguises its true purpose.

As I reported for GSN earlier this week, the march and concert in Kingston, the capital of the Caribbean country well known for the homophobia in its society, will consist of prayers, worship and performances by various Christian artists. These will be scattered at intervals with testimonies centered on deliverance from sexual ‘sin’.

Hundreds of teenagers and young adults are expected to take to the streets of the Corporate Area with participants coming from various schools, churches and professions marching for ‘sexual purity’.

But the purpose of all this is to encourage discrimination against our fellow LGBT people and to try to promote even more hate than already exists.

I can not comprehend how anyone can justify telling another human being how to love a particular person and who to have sex with or not. The LGBT community has never told them what to do or whom to have sex with.

The organizers Creative Counter Culture and 3R Youth, have been quick to make an effort to emphasize that they ‘love homosexuals’ but have linked ‘porn, fornication and homosexuality’ and are opposing all three simultaneously.

The group’s refusal to acknowledge the sanctity or even the existence of committed loving gay relationships, quoting Biblical texts, makes the sham more apparent.

One quote they are particularly fond of states ‘neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality’ will ‘inherit the kingdom of God’.

Essentially less than a month after the ‘Gay Hate Day’ protest in Cameroon, Jamaica is promoting the same.

Initially the only reference I could find to this march was on its Facebook page.

In my efforts to establish if this event is real and if it is going to happen, to my dismay I learnt that it was not a hoax.

I was able to establish the event is real. Originally planned for 4 August it is in fact going to take pace now Saturday (15 September).

Christians have a duty to spread the message of love and the good about God. The question that must be asked is, have their true values been taken over by their obsession with homosexuality? For the very homosexuals they are marching against are not as full of hate as they are.

They have lost sight of what are human rights and are now solely focusing on how to control a minority group. They are obsessed with their sex life and opposing the repeal of Jamaica’s anti-buggery law.

As I reported earlier this week Jamaican activist Angeline Jackson thinks the march’s focus on homosexuality is part of a fundamentalist Christian strategy to ‘to erode current Jamaican culture and impose Christian fundamentalism’.

‘It is time for the rest of Jamaicans who are tired of this hostile takeover of beautiful Jamaica to come forward, the progressive Christians, non-Christians, atheists, agnostics, secularists,’ she said.

Now the LGBT community in Jamaica and across the world need to stir up international condemnation not only from the LGBT community but from governments and human rights activists.

What the world’s LGBT community does not want is another repeat of what happened in Cameroon, and the establishment of Jamaica’s very own ‘Gay Hate Day’ as a regular occurrence.

I personally as a globally recognized LGBT activist do not want to have to taking similar action for Jamaica as I had to for Cameroon.

The organizers have promoted Saturday’s event as a ‘March for sexual purity in the country’.

I feel this indicates that they have a hidden agenda, to protest against homosexuality and to oppose new Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller’s position against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. Considering that she has suggested a review of the country’s buggery laws, I fear that this is but the first step to get the country to oppose the proposals and instigate public outrage. They are testing the waters to gage public opinion.

And when you examine their Facebook page promoting the event it is clear the emphasis is on homosexuality, and not porn or ‘fornication’.

In fact pornography is not referred to at all in their postings.

Homosexuality, however, is – several times.

On 17 August someone posted: ‘A lesbian wedding happened in right here in Jamaica. As those who have had our eyes open to see the truth, we need to stand up and speak the truth about God's loving ideal for marriage.’

On the 21 August they shared Leighanne Feliz-con Cristo Dacres's video and asked if: ‘Homosexuality: Sinful or Acceptable?’ And quoted ‘Jesus repeated Genesis 2 which is delineates sexual relations among humans (male and female) in Matthew 19.'

Then on 31 August homosexuality was again the topic: ‘We love homosexuals, but homosexuality is sin.’

Thus the only conclusion any rational, educated person could make, is this ‘Love March’ is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It is nothing more than an anti-gay march, but to say that would bring condemnation the ‘The big gay lobby is suppressing religious freedom’ – an accusation that has been leveled in Jamaica in the past.

Homosexuality has been a controversial issue in Jamaica recently, with debates raging widely.

The country has always had a reputation as an intensely homophobic nation, partly due to the notoriety of Jamaican singers with violent anti-gay lyrics.

The reggae star Beenie Man sang: ‘I’m dreaming of a new Jamaica, come to execute all the gays.’ Though he has since apologized for his lyrics stating his understanding of homosexuality has changed, Jamaica’s image in the worlds LGBT community has not altered.

Gay activists like me have argued that the stigma against homosexuals has forced gay and bisexual men to hide their sexuality, which in turn causes hindrance in promoting a safe sex campaign and is a major stumbling obstacle in AIDS prevention in Jamaica.

The HIV infection rate is estimated at 25% or more among men who have sex with men in Jamaica, compared to 1.7% in the overall population – a 2012 study commissioned by the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J- FLAG) found.

Dane Lewis, J- FLAG’s executive director, said: ‘Urgent national leadership is required to address the chronic intolerance for LGBT Jamaicans so they can be afforded equal rights and protection of the law like any other person.’

Human rights activists have also demanded action to curtail Jamaica’s high rate of murders of gays and lesbians caused by homophobia.

In regards to this the march’s organizers said on 13 July: ‘This so disproves the claims by the gay lobby that a lot of the murders done to homosexuals are carried out by non homosexual Jamaicans. Rather its more often crime of passion than anything else.

‘We can’t allow them to use humanism to give this feeling of guilt, so as to make us more tolerant of the sin.

‘We are standing against all sin, namely sexual sin. Marital adultery is just one of the many, just like homosexuality.’

They posted and cited a Jamaica Observer article which claimed ‘Jamaica far more tolerant of homosexuals than the public hype’.

If this was indeed true, Jamaican gay activist Maurice Tomlinson would not have had to flee the country in January due to the death threats he received after his marriage to his partner was publicized.

He told me: ‘It is clearly ludicrous that Jamaican Christians will seek to show their love for homosexuals by marching in support of a law which would imprison them for 10 years.

‘Such is the perversion of religious fundamentalism.’

Human rights advocate Danielle Marion added: ‘The disparity in who is able to safely declare their beliefs and affirm their rights in public spaces is indicative of the urgent need for legal reform to protect the rights of sexual minorities in our democracy.’

Everyone should be allowed to live their life as they chose without fear, as per the rights of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

When these rights are taken away and denied, people should be allowed to protest to be able to be who they are.

That’s something Jamaica’s LGBT community is denied in response to the ‘Love March’. According to Angeline Jackson: ‘I have no problem with persons marching for whatever cause. That's their right, and their use of freedom of speech.

‘That said I think it is hypocritical though to argue freedom of speech, because if LGBT people decided to have their own march it would be trouble, if it was publicized like this “Love March”. It is possible (I cannot say with certainty) that violence could erupt.’

I feel it is time the Jamaican LGBT community took a different approach to their traditional silence as Christians groups and other organizations fight against what they deem to be immoral. For me, that silence is achieving nothing.

We need people to be free to live their lives the way they want, without scrutiny and judgment. And a way ahead would be to open up dialogue and discussion.

There are far greater problems that need addressing in Jamaica and if people use the Bible and march in the name of God against homosexuals would it not also be expected they would also march against those too?

So I feel what Howie Fiehdior says Jamaica’s LGBT community feels about this ‘Love March’ is unfortunate, for in my opinion, I see a Cameroon-style ‘Gay Hate Day’ in the making.

Fiehdior said: ‘I am ambivalent about this… if we want tolerance and equal rights and respect, blocking someone else's freedom of speech despite the uncomfortable position it presents is ethically challenging in my eyes. I suggest we choose our positions, materials [and] weapons in the battle very carefully. I would wait and see before I decide to call for muting the organizers or that group etc. Let them make mistake(s) then hold them to it.’

Instead we need a movement – a real movement – in the international gay community to vocally and meaningfully oppose the most extreme and brutal ideology on the face of the earth – religious homophobia.

I have set up a Facebook campaign denouncing the march where leading activists have been commenting. You can see it here.

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