Jamaican Election Ends With Homophobic, Violent Rhetoric

Jamaican LGBTs have criticized the ruling party for the appearance of nasty homophobic rhetoric in the election campaign which ends today. But one ruling party MP has swung back, claiming to have had death threats — from gays.

The homophobia ratcheted up following the historic pro-gay comments made by the opposition leader Portia Simpson-Miller (of the People’s National Party, PNP) during a televised debate.

Simpson-Miller said she would have no problem appointing gay ministers in her government, opposed discrimination and said she would review the anti-gay law.

The immediate reaction, as I reported, was mixed — and included some positive comments by church leaders.

However, according to Dane Lewis, executive director of the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays, ruling Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) candidates have “unfortunately descended into pulling the sexuality card” in advance of today’s vote.

“It’s been disappointing that they’ve chosen this road yet again because it seems to historically be their stance during campaigning,” said Lewis, adding that his group is not endorsing any political party.

The PNP has selected a non-gender conforming candidate who has been the subject of a barely veiled homophobic campaign by the JLP.

Jamaican LGBT rights group J-FLAG wrote to the JLP complaining about this tactic.

My report on the campaign was picked up by other LGBT media and this was then reported back in the ruling party supporting Jamaican Observer. This led a ruling party candidate Daryl Vaz, citing my story, to ask if the PNP was receiving funding from “the international gay community”– a common tactic of anti-gay politicians the world over and commonly seen in Africa. He asked if Simpson-Miller had made her comments in exchange for funding — the exact same ‘wedge’ tactic used against then opposition leader in Zambia, Michael Sata.

Bizarrely, but again not uniquely, according to Vaz, he got two calls on Sunday in which the callers, he said, admonished him for “fighting against” the gays after threatening his life. Police are investigating his claim.

On Sunday, the JLP deputy leader and Mayor of Kingston, Desmond McKenzie, resorted to singing the lyrics of one of Jamaica’s notorious dancehall ‘kill the gays’ songs. “Fire bun,” he sang, from T.O.K by Chi Chi Man, which has a line “dem a par inna chi chi man car.”

At another weekend JLP meeting, candidates loudly stated their love for “boonoonoonus” women — i.e. we’re not the ‘gay’ PNP — sparking a backlash from women’s organizations. A JLP minister said decriminalizing homosexuality would ‘bring god’s wrath’ on Jamaica — more hurricanes presumably?

In a Sunday editorial, the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper pointed out that words have effects and called the recent developments “not only sad, but dangerous.”

“Some might add cynical and vulgar.”

The election campaign has ended with polls showing the parties in a statistical dead heat.

Related articles

Historic: Jamaican Opposition Leader Backs Gay Rights (Video)

Jamaican Wins ‘Visionary’ LGBT Activist Award

Jamaica’s Sodomy Law Gets First Legal Challenge

Photo: Activist Maurice Tomlinson at Stand against Homophobia, Emancipation Park, Kingston, 28 July, 2011. Picture by Maurice Tomlinson.


Kaya Myrie
Past Member 4 years ago

...beware of those who call eveil good,and good evil...chant down babylon!!!!!!!!

Kaya Myrie
Past Member 4 years ago

boom bye bye!!!!!!babylon free buju banton!!!!he is innocent!!!!!

Vernon C.
.6 years ago

This is one country that will never accept gays. The funny thing is that those who think that homophobia have to do with christianity is sorely mistaken when it comes to Jamaica. Most of the people who do not accept gays seldom enters a church. Most of them subscribes to the rastafari culture.

When it comes to black countries, the rejection of homosexuality is cultural, not religious. In fact this is so when it comes to blacks in general, not only the countries. I said once that the leaders of nmany countries will come on international forum & say that their country accept homosexuality. But this is only to get aid & to satisfy the powerfu white countries. Maybe the politician who said it may accept gays, but he do not speak for the masses.

The leader of my country has openly said that homosexuality is wrong & he do not accept it. This is after the Prime Minister of England said that he will not give aid to countries who do not accept homosexuals. The people of my country lambasted the English Prime Minister for that statement & the view is that we do not want any english money. How dare him try to blackmail us. We then demanded that our leader make his views known. If he would be an english lackey or he would speak for the masses of his country. Well he acceded to the views of the people. Now at some time our country will need aid & knowing politics, our leader will tell the world leaders that his country accept gays.

He will lie. He accept gays

Chad A.
Chad A6 years ago

I miss Micahel Manley!

Fred Krohn
Fred Krohn6 years ago

Both anti-semitism and homophobia are filthy diseases of the human mind. Both should be dæmonised and eliminated from our laws and education. Violence resulting from homophobia and anti-semitism should be prosecuted as capital (or at least felony) assault. Bad translations of religious core texts into which homophobia and other prejudicial hate patterns have been injected for pseudo-moral political gain should be revised to eliminate those defective prejudices from their texts and belief systems. Teach that sex is a private thing, not something 'done the same way by everyone'. Emphasise mutual adult consent along with a ban on mate-stealing and dæmonise those who abuse children and/or rape; don't interfere with adult consenting lovers with the decency to find a private place to take pleasure in.

Jonathan N.
Jonathan N.6 years ago

This is why universal access to good, scientifically sound education is such a vital foundation of a functioning society. This stuff only flies when all people know is what their parents and the preacher have taught them.

Doyal D.
Doyal D6 years ago

Death threats? Sounds like conservative rhetoric.

Vicky Locke
Vicky Locke6 years ago

How sad it must be to live in such terror of normal human beings, as these 'majority' politicians seem to be.

John Filipiak
John filipiak6 years ago

Why is it that everything in, and, about poltics eventually ends in a dead heat?

Even when we in the US elect someone, we're lucky to be 50% satisfied in half the stuff they do while in office.

Robert Shaffer
Robert Shaffer6 years ago

Thanks for sharing.