Be more tolerant of others
The next 50 years
Jamaica continues to celebrate 50 years of Independence. We have achieved a lot. However, there is much work left to be done if we are to progress as a country. We must begin to tackle Jamaica's chronic problems in a targeted and sustained way to make this country a better place to live, work and grow families. The Next 50 Years, a special Gleaner series, will spotlight some of the challenges we must fix in the coming years. We want to hear from you. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and join the debate.
JAMAICA'S REPUTATION for being irrationally fearful (homophobic) of persons who are same-sex attracted is not supported by statistics.
It is important to distinguish between a fear of homosexuals and a negative attitude towards homosexual behaviour. Jamaicans are generally homo-negative.
People are entitled to their opinions and to have these opinions heard. What we are not entitled to do is deny the rights of others in the pursuit of our own beliefs. All citizens must enjoy the rights and share in the responsibilities of a nation.
Entertainer Beenie Man demonstrated that his own thoughts have evolved when he proclaimed his respect and tolerance of all persons regardless of sexual orientation. Other artistes should do the same.
The Gay Freedom Movement of 1974 has also evolved and new groups have been formed to protect and lobby for the rights of homosexuals. These organisations have worked to secure the rights of sexual minorities. Their challenge is to protect the rights not just of the homosexual community, but of all Jamaicans.
It is short-sighted to believe that any real justice can be had by speaking out only when a violation of the rights of the homosexual community occurs. This is the only way misconceptions surrounding the homosexual community can be dispelled.