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The full story of Jamaica’s anti-gay ‘Love March’

The full story of Jamaica’s anti-gay ‘Love March’

Full details of the ‘Love March’ for ‘sexual purity’ in Jamaica on Saturday (15 September) have now emerged and, as Gay Star News predicted, the main focus of the event was to attack homosexuality.

The only LGBT group known to be in attendance were Anti-Gay Fact Check (AGFC) who followed the march from its start at Hope Gardens to its end in Mandela Park at Half Way Tree. None of the leading state or independent media was present.

As I reported for GSN last week, march organizers had set their sights on ‘sexual sins’, which they listed as ‘pornography, fornication and homosexuality’.

But it was dominated by an attack on Jamaica’s LGBT country and demands the country should retain its ‘buggery law’ which criminalizes gay sex.

To disguise this, march organizers specifically told the marchers, for example on their Facebook page, not to make the march look like it was against homosexuals by saying they should ‘cover it up as a march for “sexual purity”’ and say “we love homosexuals” every time homosexuality is mentioned’.

It was organized by two popular young Christian activists, Kacy Wesy daughter of Wayne West and Daniel Thomas, whose partner stayed close to him throughout the march.

Thomas was the apparent leader, staying on top of the truck at the front of the march ‘leading the participants, shouting, preaching, praying and chanting on the microphone about gays, porn’, according to an eyewitness.

The march was scheduled to begin at 9.30am but events didn’t get going until after 10am with a sermon.

They were led off under banners reading ‘Out of many, one people under God’ and ‘To our leaders, great defender grant true wisdom from above’. These were probably designed to promote the idea Jamaica is a ‘Christian country’ and non-Christians along with the ‘sexually impure’ are not part of this nation.

The church service began at 10.05am with the chant ‘Hosanna Jesus is the rock of my salvation’ that was followed with a prayer and the national anthem.

Then at 10.20am Thomas began to deliver a sermon about the ‘dangers of gay sex that spreads HIV’ as a reason for why they are marching and telling the rest of the proud ‘sexual purists’ that the HIV prevalence rate for homosexuals in Jamaica is 32% and that 25% of homosexual men also sleep with women.

An unidentified woman defended the buggery law saying it makes society ‘healthy’. And at this point homosexuality was compared to ‘man on dog’ sex.

Thomas then took the microphone again and began to talk about an anti-gay Christian activist in Canada who was fined $10,000 Canadian ($10,332 €7,858) for speaking against the ‘homosexual lifestyle’. They suggested this proved the buggery law was necessary otherwise freedom of speech and religion would be put in jeopardy.

At this point a petition was presented for marchers to sign. Thomas said the petition ‘declares a referendum on the buggery law is needed and that the laws on buggery should not be changed’.

The marchers were instructed again they were not ‘condemning gays or hating them’ but stood for the ‘love of God and everybody’. The sermon ended with a prayer for ‘sexual purity’. At 11.06am, the march started towards Old Hope Road.

At the gates of Hope, Thomas and, Grace-Ann Collins, his partner stated Jamaica had the second highest amount of pornography per capita in the world. A child was given a placard to join in the protest against the ‘sexually impure’ and be photographed.

At Mona Road leaders declared they were having ‘spiritual warfare’ against pornography. They claimed the media is biased and twists their words. The topic changed to the evils of fornication for a short while until it turned to homosexuality.

Then at 11.47am there was a prayer against the ‘demon of homosexuality’ which was said to be poisonous.

The LGBT movement was said to be a form of ‘oppression’ and popular actor, Shebada, was described as a tool to brainwash Jamaicans into accepting the ‘homosexual lifestyle’. Thomas shouted that all Jamaicans who didn’t like sexual purity or didn’t want to be governed by a nation under God should ‘leave the country’.

On Lady Musgrave Road the marchers were again told to pray for the buggery law to be kept, with the crowd shouting: ‘Keep the buggery law! Keep the buggery law! Mrs Simspon-Miller, keep the buggery law!’

It appears they hoped the shouting could be heard nearby at Vale Royal, official residence of Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller who has indicated that the colonial era law criminalizing gay sex should be repealed.

The crowd then began to pray against US President Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron, both supporters of LGBT rights in the foreign policies, who they said are out to ‘destroy the country’.

They claimed Cameron and Obama are plotting to ‘desensitize’ Jamaicans on these issues and that the ‘LGBT movement was out to persecute Christians as that had done in other countries’.

Thomas then continued to claim the ‘minority won’t have their own way’ and asked God to ‘keep us free from evil powers’ in reference to the evil ‘homosexual agenda’. People in cars beside the march cheered on in agreement.

After a long sermon Thomas eventually stated the march would next progress through New Kingston because ‘that is where the homosexuals have their gay clubs’.

At this point he claimed that Christians were ‘berated by gays in America and that will happen in Jamaica if the law buggery law is repealed’. He also claimed foreign money was behind the LGBT agenda.

As the crowd approached Trafalgar Street, close to venues apparently frequented by gay people, the marchers were told to ‘tear down the enemy’ and claimed foreign forces were colonizing Jamaica and were ‘imperialists’. Thomas said ‘we must free homosexual from their bondage’ and ‘refuse to make sin legal’.

Popular anti-gay activist, Shirley Richards, joined the march at this stage.

Towards Half Way Tree Thomas read more scriptures against homosexuality and declared that it was possible to be ‘ex-gay’.

Condoms were declared to ‘not be the answer’ with speakers insisting people must get married, prior to having sex. This was to justify their statements they spoke in ‘love’ because they ‘don’t want people to die’.

The march then progressed to Mandela Park for their concert and testimonials of people who were ‘freed’ from ‘sexual sin’. ‘Ex-gay’ Craig McNally, was also in attendance at the concert and everyone was told to sign the petition to the Prime Minister against the buggery law.

Despite all this, AGFC, was relaxed about the event.

They state: ‘Overall, we think the march was ineffective. It happened on a Saturday morning when many people are not on the streets or at work. Mandela Park was empty as most people were focused on [leaving in] taxis.

‘The condemnation of fornication and pornography, two Jamaican past-times, turned off some people and also the crowd was too small and full of young people. Under 100 people were in the crowd marching.

‘Anti-gay marches have not been proven to be [effective]. Many happen abroad and more people continue to accept or tolerate homosexuality. The LGBT rights movement is a process though, and Jamaica was overdue an anti-gay march.’

AGFC also said Jamaica’s LGBT movement should not be alarmed or upset by the march, which they claim may be good for a number of reasons:

It shows how obsessed the church is with homosexuality while being silent on other issues. People will lose their trust in this institution and view them as irrelevant.

It shows that the LGBT movement is becoming a potent force and is no longer insignificant. A backlash from Christian groups is inevitable, usually because they feel they are losing their monopoly on government. It’s desperation.

It will provoke more international attention on LGBT issues in Jamaica. You can’t have change without discussion.

While the anti-gay Christians continue to waste time and use the religious argument, which has been proven to not work for their agenda elsewhere, the LGBT movement move forward as has happened in other countries.

Angeline Jackson, a secular human rights activist, echoed this positive stance towards the march, despite being directly opposed to the principles it expoused.

She told us: ‘I’m extremely happy they had their march. Christian lobbyists love to cry that Christians cannot speak out against homosexuality.

‘The truth, I believe is that (some) Christians have a problem being told they will be held accountable for inciting violence. Religionists, it seems, have a problem keeping within the boundaries of the law and playing on a level playing field.’

For Jamaican artist Lawrence Graham Brown, who explores issues of sex, sexuality, pornography, liberation, race, among other things, in his work, the march was nevertheless disappointing.

He said: ‘I am disheartened that Jamaicans still live in this divisive, fear mongering and hate filled religious rhetoric, brought on by the legacy of degradation and self hatred through colonization and garrison politics.

‘With this the 50th year of independence I think Jamaicans could profit their time in a more constructive and wholesome manner instead of the same whole divide and destroy their own brothers and sisters.’

And the strongest condemnation comes from Jamaican LGBT activist and lawyer Maurice Tomlinson who was forced to flee the country, fearing he might be killed, after his marriage to a Canadian partner was made public.

He told GSN the religious right were spreading lies to defend their own groundless fears.

He said: ‘Basically they are concerned that decriminalizing sodomy will deny them their “right” to make homophobic remarks, and as a result, they make ridiculous claims, such as the anti-buggery law is necessary to prevent HIV.

‘This is, of course, stupid because, Jamaica has possibly the highest HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men, even though we have the law.

‘A tremendous amount of education still has to take place, and I am sure Jamaican LGBT [people] know and are ready for the work ahead.’