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Deep-seated homophobia is chilling, says Jamaican newspaper in support of gay marriage

Deep-seated homophobia is chilling, says Jamaican newspaper in support of gay marriage

A Jamaican newspaper has published an editorial in support of gay marriage.

The Gleaner, a popular broadsheet published six days a week, ran the editorial on 5 June with the headline ‘Same-Sex Unions And The Marriage Contract’.

The beginning of the article highlighted statistics about marriage in Jamaica, such as rising divorce rates, and argued in favour of gay marriage, underlining the hypocrisy and inequality of the current climate in Jamaica.

‘In Jamaica’s case, we refer to Section 18 of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman, thereby ruling out the possibility of formal recognition of same-sex relationships,’ read the article.

‘It is a provision that has its foundation in a deep-seated, if slowly receding, homophobia that has caused us to maintain the buggery provisions, which, essentially, criminalise male homosexuality and allows the State the role of commissar of sexual preferences and to invade the privacy of people’s bedrooms. It matters nought that the power is little used; its existence is chilling.’

The editorial argued to deny marriage to gay couples is a violation of human rights.

‘Indeed, a denial of these human rights is also an attack on the dignity of individuals who are prevented from the public expression of the powerful human emotion of love within the sanctity of marriage, although same-sex couples could well give the institution a shot in the arm.’

The article underlines the opposition faced from religious groups, who fear their beliefs on the traditional idea of marriage are being attacked.

‘The religionists and churches who are not willing to embrace same-sex marriages, but who already co-exist in a morally plural society, need not fear that they may have to compromise their ideologies.

‘While civil registers are not so precluded, ministers of religions who are marriage officers are exempt, at Section 8 of the Marriage Act, from performing weddings that are contrary to the rules of their denominations.’

One activist said the editorial had come out of the blue.

‘This was totally unexpected! The Jamaican LGBT community has NOT been lobbying for marriage equality. Clearly, the country’s intelligentsia is far ahead of the LGBT liberation movement,’ they said.

Homophobic attitudes in Jamaica were explored in a documentary by Unreported World, a documentary series on Channel 4 in the UK. The film crew focused on a group of outlawed LGBTI people forced to live in sewers.

Last month, a Jamaican musician was expelled from a New York concert because of a gay rally against her homophobic lyrics.

The anti-sodomy law punishes same-sex acts by up to ten years in prison.