Jamaica: A Grim Place to Be Gay by Peter Tatchell

boycott+jamaica,+castro,+todd,+signs+on+poleVeteran queer community organizer Todd Swindell tapes up boycott posters on a pole in Harvey Milk Plaza, before the rum dump begins. His tee shirt reads, “The Religious Right is Dead Wrong.” March 29, 2009 © Michael Petrelis

Politicians and pop stars are to blame

Jamaica: A grim place to be gay

By Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner

The Independent – London – 12 September 2009

In the wake of the murder of the British honorary consul in Jamaica, in an apparent queer-bashing attack, is it time to make British and EU aid to Jamaica contingent on the Caribbean island’s repeal of its anti-gay laws and its tougher action against homophobic violence?

Some years ago, a Jamaican newspaper falsely claimed there was going to be a Gay Pride march in Kingston. Hundreds of people wielding guns, machetes, clubs and knives turned up at the alleged starting point of the march. They had come to kill the “batty men”. Armed police turned up too – not to protect the gay marchers, but I believe to help murder them.

Under Jamaican law, consenting adult male homosexuality is a crime punishable by 10 years of hard labour. Paedophiles are treated more leniently. Men who sexually abuse girls in their early teens face only seven years in jail.

Not all Jamaicans are homophobic but it seems Jamaican police view all gays as criminals. They mostly refuse to protect them. Amnesty International confirms that gays and lesbians have been “beaten, cut, burned, raped and shot on account of their sexuality”. Amnesty says the Jamaican police are themselves often the perpetrators of homophobic “violence and torture”.

Gays taken to hospital after being beaten by homophobes risk the ordeal of hostile doctors and nurses. Some have been insulted and ridiculed by staff and made to wait nearly 24 hours for medical treatment.

Successive Jamaican Prime Ministers have failed to challenge homophobic violence. The Police Commissioner has done nowhere near enough to crack down on the violence. The killers of gays usually get away with murder. “It is like living in Afghanistan under the Taliban,” one gay Jamaican told me.

The homophobic lynch mob mentality is worse in Jamaica than in Saudi Arabia or Iran. Not long ago, a homophobic crowd burst into a church and beat up mourners attending the funeral of a gay man.

This anti-gay hatred is inflamed by Jamaica’s fire and brimstone Christian churches. The local Anglican archbishop, Drexel Gomez, is a vociferous opponent of gay human rights.

Homophobic violence is openly incited by Jamaica’s leading pop stars. Some of their most popular hit tunes urge listeners to shoot, burn, stab, hang and drown queers. These songs are incitement to murder, which is a criminal offence under Jamaican law. But the government and police refuse to prosecute the singers.

It is time British and EU aid was made contingent on Jamaica repealing its anti-gay laws and protecting its citizens against homophobic violence.



You can also follow Peter on Twitter at http://twitter.com/PeterTatchell or join the Peter Tatchell Human Rights Campaign Facebook group at http://tinyurl.com/cj9y6s

On the same subject by bohoco.net:

Dear all,

I recently learnt that Youtube freely broadcasts a song by notorious hate-lyric singer, Jamaican Buju Banton. In the tradition of some dance hall and reggae Jamaican singers, Buju Banton advocates the killing of gays and lesbians in his song Boom Bye Bye. Peter Thatchell and other gay activists were instrumental in having a few of his concerts cancelled in Europe and else where. The Stop Murder Music campaign was also successful in bringing a few singers to sign up to the Reggae Compassionate Act where they basically pledged not to support violence in theirs songs anymore. Just very recently one promoter in the States also cancelled a series of concerts by Buju Banton (he was one of the signatories but later denied ever taking part).

The fact that Youtube broadcasts Boom Bye Bye is despicable. It’s a song which clearly incites to hatred and should be removed. Plus it’s clearly in breach of Youtubes’s ‘community guidelines’


There are several versions of the same song, please click on the links below, flag as ‘promotes hatred or violence’, and then select ‘sexual orientation’ as a sub-category.


It literally takes 2 minutes and I would beg you to forward this to as many people as you possibly can in your contacts and lets get this hate-mongering filth removed.

Many thanks.


  1. Greg Le Gentil

    See my blog on word press. It might interest you. I know firsthand what being a gay Jamaican is all about.

  2. Greg Le Gentil

    oops…forgot to give my blog’s name – “So You Want to Know”

    • Hey Greg,

      read your article with interest, thanks, very sad… I can only express all my solidarity to you and all the gay Jamaicans. You rightly discourage gay people from visiting Jamaica, but we should extend the invitation to everyone, raise awareness among gay and straight (we could start from our gay friends, relatives and colleagues).

      P.S. I would like to find someone whos interested in creating and distributing leaflets about the dire situation in Jamaica, initially outside gay clubs and bars. If anyones interested pls get in touch, im based in london.

      • soyouwanttoknow

        I think that’s a brilliant idea and I do agree that everyone needs to be made aware of the reality that we face. Of course, the straight community will not readily rise up in arms if the gay tourist community doesn’t show its disapproval. Any help is always a welcome thing!


        PS. And thanks for your expression of support. 🙂

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