THE EDITOR, Sir:
Having served at home and around the world in the foreign service of the United States for more than 30 years, I have found that, often, those of us who can and should use our influence to promote tolerance fail to do so. In our silence, we inadvertently reinforce prejudices.
Homophobia exists to varying degrees in all societies. Every day, in countries all over the world, people are persecuted, vilified, beaten and even killed because of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Homophobia, either open or hidden, causes enormous suffering for those who perpetrate it, those who are the victims of it, and those who simply tolerate it.
While it is true that the responsibility for hate crimes rests with the perpetrators themselves, we all share a duty to counter intolerance and prejudice wherever we can.
As a lifelong Christian, I sometimes struggle with religious beliefs which seem to be at odds with tolerance. Then, I simply consider afresh the gospel of love, which convinces me that tolerance is in accordance with the Christian faith and practice; it is at the core of Christianity.
Tolerance does not ask us to abandon our faith or our values. I understand well that every nation has its own moral standards and no nation should ignore its own moral compass. But there is also a universal moral standard that crosses all political borders.
As the world observes International Day Against Homophobia today, and we come into the fullness of our humanity, we must not allow hatred and violence to be what defines us.
I am, etc.,
US Ambassador to Jamaica