The idilic island nation of Jamaica seems like it might be an awesome place for a restful holiday for LGBT+ people, but the reality is, if you’re gay, your illegal.
- Same-sex sexual intercourse could lead to imprisonment, fines, beatings and worse.
- The Country’s Tourism Minister called the Country a “melting pot” and that everyone has a place.
It’s hard to fathom that in this day and age that simply being who you are can be illegal in a country, particularly in one that considers itself welcoming to all according to its Minister of Tourism for Jamaica Hon. Edmund Bartlett said recently in an interview with Sky News.
“Jamaica is that melting pot, that has a place for everybody…” that is of course, unless you’re LGBT+.
Yes, the sex you have with someone of the same sex is legally governed by Jamaica and sex between two same-sex couples could land you with imprisonment, torture, vigilante executions, and vigilante beatings.
However it should be noted that Barlette has in the past welcomed LGBT+ travellers saying in an interview with ManAboutWorld, “We say that Jamaica is open to all travelers. We have a diversified offering that the extent to which we go to embrace various passion points is equal. We have no laws which prevent people of any orientation to come in and to enjoy the benefits of the destination. The ethics which guide tourism guide everybody, and so it is within that tourism ethic that we will operate with all the visitors that come to our country.”
In 2006 Time Magazine asked the question on whether Jamaica was the most homophobic place on earth and in 2013 a survey of the island’s LGBT+ population found the majority said they were subject to homophobic violence in public.
According to Wikipedia, the punishment for LGBT+ activity is 10 years of imprisonment with hard labour. It has been noted that vigilante executions, torture, and vigilante beatings have also been tolerated according to the Human Right’s organisation Amnesty International.
Despite the backlash that LGBT+ people can face in Jamaica, there are a couple of pride events held each year. One is called PRIDEJA and the other is Montego Bay Pride.
Attacks on Jamaican LGBT+ People are rife
According to a new podcast series, Ring The Alarm, host Jasmyne Cannick, one of Los Angeles’ most recognisable Black political strategists and journalists looks into a spate of horrific and alarming attacks on LGBT+ people in Jamaica.
Speaking about the podcast, Cannick told The Advocate,
“I have always used my platform to elevate Black stories and issues I felt were being ignored and Ring the Alarm is no different,
“When I was asked to come to Jamaica to speak to the LGBTQ+ community and share their stories, I immediately said yes.
“I said yes because American’s have had so much to say about the plight of queer people in places like Iran and Afghanistan but for decades have ignored the murders of lesbian women, gay men, and trans men and women in Jamaica.
“Well not anymore.”