In 2006, Time Magazine referred to Jamaica as “the most homophobic place on Earth.” Over the past several years, the country has made great strides in terms of combating this perception and has worked diligently toward advancing LGBT inclusion, especially organizations like the Jamaican Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-Flag), the nation’s leading LGBT civil rights organization. Nevertheless, Jamaica still suffers from this sort of detrimental stigma, specifically amongst LGBT travelers and their allies, who tend to refrain from visiting the country due to high rates of violent hate crimes, something Director of Tourism Donovan White attempted to address in a press conference earlier this month.
According to a recent article by Jamaican news source The Gleaner, White expressed that “every visitor was welcome to vacation in the island, as the Government has no interest in seeking to meddle into people’s romantic lives, but was instead keen on ensuring that each visitor enjoys their time on the island.”
“‘I do believe that we make our best effort every time to ensure that everybody that comes to Jamaica, whoever you are, that you have the same experience,”’ said White. “‘And we don’t ask at the airport who you are and what you do. We expect that you will be here, and like everybody else, have a great vacation, and we want to ensure that we provide you with that vacation. And so, from that perspective, there is absolutely no attempt or obstruction or [program] that is aimed at or intended to cause any uneasiness for anybody who comes to Jamaica,” he added.
Fact check: FALSE.
While Jamaica markets itself as being LGBT-inclusive and welcoming to everyone, same-sex intercourse remains punishable by up to a decade in prison and can include various forms of hard labor. But this sort of treatment is not exclusive to law. Per a 2018 article by Logo’s NewNowNext journalist Jeff Taylor, in Jamaica “[g]ay men have been beaten, shot and stoned to death,” and not too long ago in 2017, “LGBT activist Dexter Pottinger, dubbed the ‘face of Pride’, was murdered in his home.”
True, there are efforts making leaps and bounds in LGBT inclusiveness; however, until the nation’s government backs their words by action, they remain cheap.
Have you visited Jamaica? Please tell us about your experience.