LGBTI advocates in Jamaica have published a Gay Agenda. The publication, which is viewable online here, was launched at an event last night, and broadcast live over Facebook.
Within it they set out their reasons for ‘reclaiming’ the term.
‘For many years now, the term “Gay Agenda” has been a slur used to describe some secretive and sinister plot by the local to up-end society and destroy its very fabric.
‘Everyone from pastors to doctors to media practitioners and shopkeepers decided for themselves that they know what the Gay Agenda was and that it was certainly not something good for Jamaica, often times without ever speaking to or even knowing a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) Jamaican.
‘It has been a sad reality for the Jamaican LGBT community that we were always being told about ourselves; whether it’s uninformed pedagogues telling us that we are paedophiles or mentally ill to everyday verandah conversation about how predatory we are.
‘We are always called to respond to stereotypes, newspaper caricatures and the singular images of displaced and/or homeless persons in our community. This awful practice stops today!
‘Rather than concocting the Gay Agenda to continue to misrepresent who we are and what we want, here it is in full view for you to read.’
‘The “Gay Agenda” is that thing you have absolutely no idea what it really is’
J-Flag Executive Director Jaevion Nelson adds, ‘The “Gay Agenda” is that thing you hear repeated ever so often but have absolutely no idea what it really is and entails. You never hear lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ) persons talk about it but you believe it is this mysterious, illusive, nefarious thing that one must be wary of.’
He says J-Flag’s Gay Agenda is a manifesto for what Jamaica’s LGBTI community want to see change. It addresses a number of areas, including: Security and justice; health; education and training; housing and social security; employment; family life; culture; entertainment and sport; people of trans experience and youth.
‘We have created this manifesto to guide how we work to address homophobia, biphobia and transphobia and their impact on LGBT people’s ability to access services such as those for counseling, social assistance and conflict resolution, how people found and experience relationships, how they worship, and socialize and find contentment,’ says Nelson.
However, J-Flag say their Gay Agenda does not speak for every LGBTI person in the country. The group welcomes feedback and debate around the document.
The situation for LGBTI people in Jamaica
Same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Jamaica. The country offers no anti-discrimination protections based on sexuality or gender identity. Societal homophobia is widespread and LGBTI people face harassment and persecution.
A comprehensive report by Human Rights Watch in 2014 found that, ‘LGBT people in Jamaica face intolerable levels of violence and cannot rely on the police.’
The report identified several incidents of horrific violence related to homophobia and transphobia.
As a priority, in its section on security and justice, the Gay Agenda calls for the following.
- Jamaica should amend its laws and enact comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation to prohibit all forms of discrimination.
- Decriminalize same-sex sexual relations between consenting adults.
- Remove savings laws clauses from the Charter of Rights which obstruct the amendment of legislation where they obstruct the rights of women and other groups.
GSN has contacted J-Flag for further comment.