Thursday, August 18, 2011

Jamaica's fear of a gay island rears its ugly head in PSA ban

Jamaica has a problem with gay people. At least, that's what I've thought since Time Magazine called it "The Most Homophobic Place on Earth" in 2006 because of the shocking amount of violent hate crime committed against homosexual men and women there (and which, it claims, is often ignored by police).

Male homosexuality is still a crime in Jamaica, punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Surprising, from the country that gave us Bob Marley's "One Love"? Ironically, some point to the new generation of Reggae performers as the problem:

Jamaica's popular culture has a strong tradition of music, particularly reggae and dancehall. As a consequence performers are high profile, either (depending on perspective) seen as influencing popular opinion or reflecting it. Artists such as Buju Banton, Bounty Killer, Beenie Man, Vybz Kartel, Mavado, Elephant Man, Sizzla, Capleton, T.O.K., Anthony B and Shabba Ranks, write and perform songs that advocate attacking or killing gays and lesbians.

Apologists argue that these artists are simply championing Rastafarian values in contemporary reggae music by recording material which is concerned primarily with exploring Rastafarian themes, such as Babylon's corrupting influence, the disenfranchisement of ghetto youth, oppression of the black nation and their abiding faith in Jah and resistance against perceived agents of oppression. Homosexuality is enmeshed with these themes.

One of Beenie Man's songs contains the lyrics: "I'm a dreaming of a new Jamaica, come to execute all the gays." Lyrics from Sizzla's songs include: “Shot batty boy, my big gun boom” (Shoot queers, my big gun goes boom)."A Nuh Fi Wi Fault" by Elephant Man rants: "Battyman fi dead!/Please mark we word/Gimme tha tech-nine/Shoot dem like bird".

Wikipedia goes on to point out that The Canadian High Commission in Jamaica requires "performers who wish to tour in Canada to sign an Entertainer Declaration that states that they have read and fully understand excerpts from the Criminal Code of Canada, Charter of Rights and Human Rights Act and "will not engage in or advocate hatred against persons because of their... sexual orientation."

Yeah. It's that bad down there. And in that context, you will surely not be surprised that this ad by JFLAG, about acceptance, has been refused play on Jamaican television:

The Jamaica Observer reports (with the unfortunate headline "Blow to gay ad - TVJ rejects J-FLAG’s PSA"):

"The PSA, which features former Miss Jamaica World and Miss Jamaica Universe Christine Straw and her gay brother Matthew Straw encouraging Jamaicans to show love to their family members and friends who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, was launched last month. J-FLAG was hoping to have the PSA aired on national TV this month.

However, Television Jamaica (TVJ), one of the island's major television stations, says it will not be carrying the PSA at this time, citing concerns about the structure of the announcement, among other things."

Broadcasters cited complaints from church groups. Associate pastor of the Tower Hill Missionary Church in Kingston, Mark Dawes, gives a typical comment:

"As innocuous and as innocent as that public service announcement might appear, it is part of a wider plan by militant homosexuals to gradually desensitise Jamaicans to homosexuality, so that homosexual behaviour and practice can become mainstream in Jamaica."

Fortunately, the internet is less afraid of catching the ghey than Mr. Dawes...

Tip via Joe My God.

No comments:

Post a Comment