The following is from Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals, and Gays
Today marks the 17th International Day for Tolerance to educate people about the need for tolerance in society. It is a time for us to reflect and understand the negative effects of intolerance.
It is important that we learn about respecting and recognizing the rights and beliefs of others. We use this opportunity to celebrate the progress that has been made in protecting and promoting the human rights of Jamaicans who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.
This is evident in a number of public activities held without incident since April 2009 to raise the awareness of the issues being faced by the LGBT community and our allies. The Jamaica Constabulary Force now recognises and is more supportive of the rights of LGBT people in exercising their duties. More constructive conversations, articles and letters with regards to the rights of lesbian and gay Jamaicans are being published and broadcasted. Key leaders, including political representatives, in our society have accepted our invitation and extended a helping hand to have conversation with us and support our advocacy and programmes.
Nonetheless, people continue to report incidents of harassment, violence, home evictions, and mob attacks, among others because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender. A 2011 study conducted by Prof. Ian Boxhill found that Jamaicans from all social classes, gender and social groups have strong negative views about homosexuality. The research highlights the need for greater tolerance towards the LGBT community so people can claim and enjoy their fundamental rights to life, security, well-being and dignity.
As a community, we must understand that building tolerance and trust in diverse communities is not done overnight, but takes time and commitment. Building tolerance requires access to education about the sacrifices our ancestors made and the risk they were prepared to take to fight for equality and justice. We must therefore place greater emphasis on educating Jamaicans about tolerance, human rights and fundamental freedoms.
Let us recognize our responsibilities in safeguarding the welfare of all Jamaicans regardless of their sexual orientation. Each one of us can make a difference in the transformation of Jamaica—our place to live, work, raise families and do business.
November 16, 2011