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Jamaica tourism chief claims LGBTI tourists welcome despite gay sex ban

Jamaica tourism chief claims LGBTI tourists welcome despite gay sex ban

Jamaica gay tourists welcome

The Director of Tourism for Jamaica claims LGBTI tourists are welcome in the country – despite same-sex intercourse being illegal.

During a press conference at Caribbean Travel Marketplace in Montego Bay on Monday (4 February), Donovan White told the crowd Jamaicans hold no open hostility to LGBTI people. He says his priority is that ‘everybody that comes to Jamaica, whoever you are, that you have the same experience’.

White was asked what measures the government was taking to ‘curb the perception and reputation’ that Jamaica was homophobic and so encourage LGBTI tourists.

According to The Gleaner, he responded: ‘We pride ourselves in welcoming everybody to Jamaica, and like you said when you started, you have been here for the first time and you have had a great experience.

‘I do believe that we make our best effort every time to ensure that everybody that comes to Jamaica, whoever you are, that you have the same experience.

‘And we don’t ask at the airport who you are and what you do. We expect that you will be here, and like everybody else, have a great vacation, and we want to ensure that we provide you with that vacation.

‘And so, from that perspective, there is absolutely no attempt or obstruction or program that is aimed at or intended to cause any uneasiness for anybody who comes to Jamaica.’

British colonial laws

This is despite the fact that gay sex is illegal in the country, with people being found guilty facing up to life in prison. People can also be arrested and convicted for ‘outrages on decency’, which has been interpreted as hand holding.

These laws are a hangover from British colonial rule.

Many are not convicted under the law, but the arrests are often published in newspapers with names.

In 2005, Time magazine dubbed Jamaica the most homophobic place on Earth. LGBTI people to this day suffer widespread discrimination, but recent efforts have been made to curb this attitude.

By 2015, the country held its first ever Pride celebration. It was organized by LGBTI rights group J-Flag with a flash mob of 15 people in Kingston’s Emancipation Park.

This grew into a pride celebration attracting 1200 people.

See also: 

Jamaican LGBTI group ask for donations after office is set on fire

Jamaica’s anti-buggery laws may be facing their biggest legal challenge yet