Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Equality is winning in Jamaica

Published:Thursday | April 14, 2016 | 4:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

The 2015 study does show more anti-gay prejudice than the 2012 or 2011 sample. However, once you take into account the different demographics of the sample the effect disappears and in fact reverses.

Actually, equality is winning in Jamaica. When the differing demographics across the two samples are controlled statistically, the data show that Jamaicans are more accepting of gay men and lesbians and less opposed to equal rights than they were three years ago. The campaigning appears to be paying off.

I'm current writing up these findings for submission to the Journal of Sex Research, the same journal in which the last big study (Predictors of prejudice against lesbians and gay me in Jamaica) was published.

Let's look at it this way. We know that men like gay people less than women, so if the 2015 sample contains more men, it looks like people are getting more negative when in fact the samples were just slightly different in terms of gender. That's why it's necessary to control for other possible predictors when doing analyses over time.

I have the data for all three surveys. When I ran the analyses taking all the relevant predictors into account (gender, age, income, education, and dance hall preference and religion) the results were in the opposite direction. The effects on attitudes and behaviours weren't statistically significant, but since 2012 Jamaicans have become more accepting of LGBT people in society and less opposed to gay rights.

This is much more in line with the effects of all the campaigning and visibility J-FLAG has been doing and is, in any case, a much more accurate representation of the data.

An interesting question is why there are no effects on attitudes and negative behaviours, but that's something that can be discussed at length later.

Equality is winning in Jamaica. This is good news! Things are getting better. Not much better and not quickly, but they are getting better.

Dr Keon West

Social Psychologist

Lecturer in Psychology