Sun | Sep 20, 2020

Glenford Smith | Everyone has rights in the workplace

Published:Thursday | July 12, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Sad. Depressed. Distressed

I got the following letter, which I cannot reproduce in its entirety, as its use of several expletives makes it unreadable to a large section of Jamaicans. But it carries a popular sentiment. He was writing in response to the article 'Human rights in the workplace' in The Sunday Gleaner of May 13, 2018.

"We will not change to accommodate any sodomite. Andrew Holness is going a have a rude awakening. What is he talking about, 'Jamaica is evolving!' It is the Creator who runs this planet and people like you and he will burn in hell. Go away with your demonic, termite infested brain. Jamaica will never change to accept and legalise sodomy once I'm alive."

- B

I want to say thank you to B. for sending in his letter - albeit in all caps with all manner of expletives. The article to which B. is responding said that whether a person is lesbian, gay, bisexual or transsexual - LGBT - he or she has the same rights in the workplace too.

Gays, lesbians and bisexuals all have rights in the workplace. They are every bit as Jamaican as you or I. They leave us alone, so why not leave them alone to do to each other what they will? We do not have any more rights at work than they.

I understand your frustration and your anger at what you believe is abominable wrong being committed in Bible-glutted Jamaica. However, what one regards as wrong is very subjective and varies according to one's religion and geography. That is why we have a constitution that people from whatever religion agree to be governed by.

If we allowed religious people to frame the constitution, we would have a theocracy, and things like homosexuality, lesbianism, stealing, saying you don't agree that there is a God, speaking angrily to one's parents could get you killed, with the sanction of the state.

In The Jamaican Constitution, under Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, we have this statement:

"The Jamaica Constitution ... provides that every person, regardless of ... creed of sex, is entitled to certain fundamental rights and freedoms. These include ... freedom from inhuman treatment; ... freedom of conscience; ... respect for private and family life; and freedom from discrimination ... Any person who believes that his rights are being violated or threatened may apply to the Supreme Court for enforcement of rights and for redress."

The constitution speaks to "freedom of inhuman treatment and discrimination", which B. seems not to regard. What you will tolerate is beside the point. No one is arguing for legalisation of the sodomy laws - that's another discussion altogether - but you cannot take the law in your own hands. Furthermore, in the workplace discrimination is against the law, it is wrong if you do it because of someone's sexual preference.

Saying that it is the Creator runs this planet is subjective and anyone can believe what they are convicted of, even to believe there is not a Creator if they want. I believe the other statements are mostly hyperbole and emotional hubbub.

I say to any member of the LGBT community who might read this, if you feel violated or threatened at work, you have a recourse. Try your superiors first, then if they do nothing, move it the courts.

n Glenford Smith is a motivational speaker and success strategist. He is the author of 'From Problems to Power' and co-author of 'Profile of Excellence'.