Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Letter of the Day: Pastors obsessed with buggery rhetoric

Published:Friday | April 1, 2016 | 4:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

I am deeply concerned about the great deal of time and attention that some clergymen and women seem to spend defending the retention of the buggery law than they do advocating for the Government to do more to protect all Jamaicans from abuse, discrimination, crime and violence.

I read with great interest comments made by Dr Meric Walker, pastor of the Washington Gardens Seventh-day Adventist Church, as reported in The Gleaner on March 28, 2016, under the headline, 'No to gays! Adventists urge Government to keep God in deliberations on buggery law'.

In a 2012 Boxill study, nearly 40 per cent of Jamaicans said the Government was not doing enough to protect LGBT people from discrimination and violence. One would have imagined that this would have inspired our clergymen and women to consider the harm these laws are having on the well-being of LGBT people and their families - some of whom might actually be members of their churches.

We have a strange attachment to retaining the buggery law. I imagine much of this is motivated by our preoccupation with certain kinds of sex and ignorance about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Jamaicans and what is actually contained within the law itself.

Many of us remain convinced that the law criminalises any and all same-sex relationships and wrongfully believe that certain criminalised forms of sex only take place between homosexual couples.

It is interesting to note that while many insist that the law should be retained, 39 per cent of people have no real reason for wanting its retention.

The fact that some of us might know people - our neighbours, church brethren, students, colleagues or friends who appear to be unscathed by the existence of the law does not mean there is no homophobia and transphobia and that the law does not contribute to the pervasive culture of intolerance.

 

SOURCES OF THE PHOBIA

 

Victims of homophobia and transphobia in Jamaica often indicate that the perpetrators of these incidents often cite the buggery law, dancehall lyrics, or the Bible to justify their actions.

I am aware that the vast majority of faith-based leaders do not condone discrimination or violence against LGBT people. However, they must recognise that their deafening silence in this regard helps to perpetuate the homophobia and transphobia. The very same family that they avow to protect is the same family that LGBT people are born into.

We continue to see too many young persons being placed at greater risk because families and communities continue to displace and make them homeless because of the inability to appreciate difference as it relates to sexual orientation and or gender identity.

Let us endeavour to make Jamaica a place everyone can call home and can feel secure as a citizen, resident or visitor.

DANE LEWIS

Executive Director, J-FLAG