I wrote the below letter in response to the column in The Sunday Gleaner of May 22, 2011, Rights Violations and Other Matters. It was submitted to the Gleaner a few minutes before this blog post. If it is published then I'll post the link for you.
Martin Henry’s column, in The Sunday Gleaner of May 22, 2011, Rights Violations and Other Matters, touched on the issues of rights of Jamaican Muslims and HIV pre-employment testing. I would like to expand the issue of rights violations from Jamaican Muslims to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered (GLBT) Jamaicans.
Though many use the religiosity (particularly Christianity), and pseudo-religiosity of Jamaicans as the shield for maintaining the buggery laws, and for the refusal of implementing statutory protection for GLBT Jamaicans, it must not be forgotten that Jamaica is, ‘constitutionally a secular democracy’ (Rights Violations and Other Matters).
As a secular democracy it is constitutionally unlawful and should be against the conscience of Christians, to impose upon the society, laws that reflect the religious views of the majority (in this instance-Christianity). It is good that we (as a nation) feel that we have a moral obligation to lead people in the right way, however dictating what persons can or cannot do is not the way to do it.
Christians want their religious views to be protected and respected, but Christians shouldn’t be taken out as a group by themselves only because they are in the majority. If we are going to talk about respect and protection, then that must be extended to ALL JAMAICANS.
Maintaining the buggery law, encourages, and sanctions discrimination against gay and bisexual men. The perceived illegality of homosexuality, inferred from the buggery law, results also in discrimination against lesbian and bisexual women and transgendered persons. The discrimination faced includes instances of housing, employment, and privacy among others.
We boast daily that Jamaica is a melting pot of cultures (Out of Many One People), and a place of love, but where is the love? Does this love only extend to persons we perceive to be like us, who believe the same things we do? Does our love extend to just Christians, and its many denominations, and do we tolerate the other religions because they too denounce homosexuality and other variants to heterosexuality?
It is time that we respect that there are persons within our country who are not Christians, who are not heterosexuals, and who do not subscribe to the traditional views and understandings of Christianity.