LET'S BOYCOTT JAMAICA! (Or should we?)

"HUMAN RIGHTS ACTIVISTS have given Jamaica the infamous title: 'The Most Homophobic Place on Earth'. If you love your gay friends and family members, you won't visit Jamaica. If you care about the human rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, you won't buy Jamaican products. Isn't it time we stop rewarding this hate state with our tourism dollars? This nation should be avoided at all costs until the Jamaican government takes action to end the country's virulently homophobic climate and draconian laws that persecute homosexuals." That's the official statement on the Jamaica boycott. Since learning about it last night, I've flip-flopped several times over condemning it, or supporting it. My initial reaction was one of satisfaction. "Good," I thought. "Serves them right." But today I've been thinking on it, and a few questions came up. Who, exactly, is boycotting Jamaica? Financially comfortable whites, presumably. Is it fair to tar every Jamaican with the same brush? Not really, no. Why just Jamaica? What about, er, every country in Africa? And how about America too, with its rabid packs of bible-bashers and various states who've effectively condoned homophobia (and I'm thinking Proposition 8). And above all else - why a boycott? As if that's going to work. Boycott Jamaica (the official site) have answered all of these questions to my satisfaction, via their Q&A page. On the subject of who, they're described as a "coalition of GLBT activists". I take that to mean our brothers and sisters who care enough to actively fight for all of Us - race shouldn't come into it (although, without a doubt, the Jasmine Cannicks of this world will seek to make it a black versus white issue). Are all Jamaicans guilty? Boycott Jamaica say, "We have nothing against the Jamaican people and desire nothing more than calling off this boycott. There is, however, a price to pay for continuing down a homophobic path." And to misquote a well known phrase, ignorance of what's right is no defence. Over the years I have known quite a few Jamaicans, and two of my good friends are from that island. They are, almost without exception, amongst the most fundamentally decent people I know, but their acceptance of what is has always troubled me and been the source of many an argument. It always comes down to the same thing - they point out that I don't know what it's really like, so I should keep my mouth shut. That's fine, I accept that. I'm lucky to have been born into a relatively liberal society. But by the same token, if no one ever raises their head above the parapet, nothing ever changes. Nelson Mandela - or Harvey Milk, for that matter - didn't say, "Sod it, it's too hard," and pull the blanket back over their respective heads. So, why pick on Jamaica? You have to start somewhere, and Jamaica's one of the biggest bullies in the playground. As Boycott Jamaica points out, Jamaica relies heavily on the tourist dollar - which also negates the argument that outsiders shouldn't meddle with Jamaica's internal affairs. If you want our cash, you better fix up. Finally, is a boycott likely to work? It's a moot point. Will heterosexuals support us in sufficient numbers to make Jamaica sit up and take notice? Perhaps - hopefully, even the hint of violence will spoil the postcard perfect picture of Jamaica for the hallowed Families. There's no excuses for what is going on in Jamaica. Go get them. Make them hurt, even if it's just a fraction of what they're doing to our brothers and sisters. And to quote another late, great freedom fighter, "in the end, winning is the only safety."


Wonder Man said...

It's tricky because we need to support our family over there, but how can we when it's like a death sentence

thegayte-keeper said...

I wouldn't feel comfortable going to Jamaica but I don't know if I'd tell others to boycott them...

Dusty Boot said...

Homophobia aside, I kinda don't see the point going to Jamaica. I don't think it's as exciting as advertised. I dunno. Maybe we're boring peoples.

Anonymous said...

Ay ka-os, I'm not so sure about a boycott.Who is supposed to be punished here? Politicians responsible for writing laws of the country? Ordinary people? What about those that don't support homophobia? Is it case of the end justifying the means?

I'm not sure what the solution should be, but I agree with Wonder Man that this is a tricky one.

Curious said...

Unfortunately I can't boycott Jamaica since I have never had any plans on going there now or in the future and I don't use or consume any of their products. But even if I did, I'm not sure who I would be hurting more, the bigots and politicians, or the ordinary people trying to make an honest living and supporting their families?

ka-os said...

The "ordinary people" trying to support their families are all complicit in supporting and encouraging homophobia and violence against our brothers and sisters.

Instead of worrying so much about the ordinary people and "the families", you should all be thinking hard about the gay men and women who live in fear, who are beaten, tortured and killed by the ordinary people and the famlies.

Are you going to argue that the German people were innocent during the persecution and mass extermination of Jews? No, because they were complicit in it, it's historical fact. Just as ordinary Jamaicans are complicit in fostering a culture of violent homophobia.

This situation will continue as long as you guys continue to think along the lines of, "oh, it's just a few hardcore homophobes doing the bad stuff, most Jamaicans are innocent and embrace homosexuality."

They aren't, and they don't.

Anonymous said...


you jumped in and said all things I wanted to, but at the risk of beating a horse I have to say the ONLY way we can help oppressed Jamaica LGBT's is by turning our back on that country.

I mean, short of going down there and doing some vigilant sh*t with a craZed pink triangle mafia roaming the island hetero-bashing (which in the end might make interesting headlines but have no effect on change), the only way to resonably express outrage is financially.

And when the tourist dollars dry up, and IMHO with this campaign (and that little global resession thing) they'll see the light, in time.

Change comes from the bottom up, those 'phobic politicians won't budge unless the people demand it. If the world puts a big red circle with a line through it over Jamaica, the people will certainly demand change.

Bottomline -- the best thing we can do for our LGBT fam' in Jamaica and the entire Caribbean is to support the boycott.

John said...


Just a couple of observations though.
You say
"if no one ever raises their head above the parapet, nothing ever changes. Nelson Mandela - or Harvey Milk, for that matter - didn't say, "Sod it, it's too hard," and pull the blanket back over their respective heads."
and this is absolutely true, but that change came from within. A trojan horse if you will.
What this boycott is doing is standing outside the castle walls and shouting at the ramparts. An altogether different prospect.
Maybe what Jamaica needs is a King or a Milk - even a Peter Tatchell - who is going to stand up inside the country and start to shout.

But of course this is tantamount to suicide so it won't happen - or if it does it'll be be pointless gesture that won't even be making the news.

Jamaica's deep-rooted homophobia stems from the the religious / moral code that it would appear the majority of people who live there subscribe to - ultimately, though we may not approve of it, it is democracy.

Plus "Will heterosexuals support us in sufficient numbers to make Jamaica sit up and take notice? Perhaps - hopefully, even the hint of violence will spoil the postcard perfect picture of Jamaica for the hallowed Families."

I think Jamaica has more than a hint of violence about it already doesn't it?
You don't get many visitors to Sandals taking a taxi to Trenchtown for a wander round Bob's old yard.....

I agree with the sentiments of the boycott, but I'm not as yet totally convinced it is 'the right thing'

I'm just off to read their site now........

"Here is a list of 35 spectacular, exciting and scenic alternatives to Jamaica:
19 - Blackpool, England

After full consideration I support the boycott.
What swayed me is that the government seems to condone homophobic violence.

The anti-buggery laws are another matter altogether and one that comes down to the mores and moral codes of the electorate, but government-endorsed lynch-mobbing is beyond the pale.

Not that I suspect that it will make the blindest bit of difference. The chief characteristic of the self-righteous bigot is his stubbornness and refusal to see anything from any perspective but his own - and in fact the further he is pushed the more he digs his heels in....

Sanya in España said...

Plenty which I agree with has already been said, here, but I'd like to underline the fact that EDUCATION in Jamaica (as in most "black" nations) encourages respect for one's elders and never criticising them; even though their opinions may be debateable, you don't debate them or you get a smack.

If, however, you teach that older people can be wrong and that people should judge for themselves based on as much evidence as possible, you often find a healthier society, ready to debate and question its own principles, and willing to change them. THAT is what a democracy is, and Jamaica (as well as several other ex-colonies force-fed the model but never really taught to understand it) needs to learn this before it can call itself anything but backward.

The truth hurts, and is often offensive: doesn't make it any less true, though.

◄Design by Pocket