The Most Homophobic Place on Earth?

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The Most Homophobic Place on Earth?

Post by admin » Wed Apr 19, 2006 8:32 am

Wednesday, Apr. 12, 2006
The Most Homophobic Place on Earth?
Crimes against gays are mounting in Jamaica and across the Caribbean
By TIM PADGETT/KINGSTON

Brian wears sunglasses to hide his gray and lifeless left eye—damaged, he says, by kicks and blows with a board from Jamaican reggae star Buju Banton. Brian, 44, is gay, and Banton, 32, is an avowed homophobe whose song Boom Bye-Byedecrees that gays "haffi dead" ("have to die"). In June 2004, Brian claims, Banton and some toughs burst into his house near Banton's Kingston recording studio and viciously beat him and five other men. After complaints from international human-rights groups, Banton was finally charged last fall, but in January a judge dismissed the case for lack of evidence. It was a bitter decision for Brian, who lost his landscaping business after the attack and is fearful of giving his last name. "I still go to church," he says as he sips a Red Stripe beer. "Every Sunday I ask why this happened to me."

Though familiar to Americans primarily as a laid-back beach destination, Jamaicais hardly idyllic. The country has the world's highest murder rate. And its rampant violence against gays and lesbians has prompted human-rights groups to confer another ugly distinction: the most homophobic place on earth.

In the past two years, two of the island's most prominent gay activists, Brian Williamson and Steve Harvey, have been murdered — and a crowd even celebrated over Williamson's mutilated body. Perhaps most disturbing, many anti-gay assaults have been acts of mob violence. In 2004, a teen was almost killed when his father learned his son was gay and invited a group to lynch the boy at his school. Months later, witnesses say, police egged on another mob that stabbed and stoned a gay man to death in Montego Bay. And this year a Kingston man, Nokia Cowan, drowned after a crowd shouting "batty boy" (a Jamaican epithet for homosexual) chased him off a pier. "Jamaica is the worst any of us has ever seen," says Rebecca Schleifer of the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch and author of a scathing report on the island's anti-gay hostility.

Jamaica may be the worst offender, but much of the rest of the Caribbean also has a long history of intense homophobia. Islands like Barbados still criminalize homosexuality, and some seem to be following Jamaica's more violent example. Last week two CBS News producers, both Americans, were beaten with tire irons by a gay-bashing mob while vacationing on St. Martin. One of the victims, Ryan Smith, was airbused to a Miami hospital, where he remains in intensive care with a fractured skull.

Gay-rights activists attribute the scourge of homophobia in Jamaica largely to the country's increasingly thuggish reggae music scene. Few epitomize the melding of reggae and gangsta cultures more than Banton, who is one of the nation's most popular dance-hall singers. Born Mark Myrie, he grew up the youngest of 15 children in Kingston's Salt Lane — the sort of slum dominated by ultraconservative Christian churches and intensely anti-gay Rastafarians. Banton parlayed homophobia into a ticket out of Salt Lane. One of his first hits, 1992'sBoom Bye-Bye, boasts of shooting gays with Uzis and burning their skin with acid "like an old tire wheel."

Banton's lyrics are hardly unique among reggae artists today. Another popular artist, Elephant Man (O'Neil Bryant, 29) declares in one song, "When you hear a lesbian getting raped/ It's not our fault ... Two women in bed/ That's two Sodomites who should be dead." Another, Bounty Killer (Rodney Price, 33), urges listeners to burn "Mister Fagoty" and make him "wince in agony."

Reggae's anti-gay rhetoric has seeped into the country's politics. Jamaica's major political parties have passed some of the world's toughest antisodomy laws and regularly incorporate homophobic music in their campaigns. "The view that results," says Jamaican human-rights lawyer Philip Dayle, "is that a homosexual isn't just an undesirable but an unapprehended criminal."

Meanwhile, gay-rights activists say Jamaican police often overlook evidence in anti-gay hate crimes, such as the alleged assault by Banton in 2004. His accuser, Brian, says cops excised Banton's role from their reports of the 2004 beating. A police spokesman denies that. But in dismissing the case earlier this year, the judge in the trial warned Banton to avoid violence and "seek legal recourses" when he has complaints against gays in the future. Banton refused TIME's request for an interview. His manager, Donovan Germain, insists that the singer is innocent and that "Buju's lyrics are part of a metaphorical tradition. They're not a literal call to kill gay men."

There are some signs that Jamaica may soften its approach. Jamaica's ruling party last month elected the nation's first female Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller, a progressive who gay-rights supporters hope will eventually move to decriminalize homosexuality. She hasn't yet said that, but Jamaica's beleaguered gays say they at least have reason now to hope their government will change its tune before their reggae stars ever do.


Copyright © 2006 Time Inc. All rights reserved.

Leonel JB

Post by Leonel JB » Thu Apr 20, 2006 1:57 am

Well, it all comes down to "Killing the sinners" which is from the bible...

Come to think of it, although, we Haitians used to joke or make fun of homosexuals. But, we are the most tolerant people, I think.

I remember a lot of gays in our neighborhoods back then. I also remember going to Saut d'Eau every summer with my dad. And his favorite place to eat was at Loganye's restaurant where you would find a lot of gays including the famous Wiwit.

My dad knew them from way back when he was living in OKAP. Anyway, it is sad to see how Hatred can make some people act like Savages...

Rayi chien, di dan l blan, Haitians are very tolerant in that aspect. In politics, we are different!

I remember also in Brooklyn, if you want to get eaten alive by a Jamaican, call him Batty Bway (batty boy).

For you, Christians, why can't you be more tolerant like Christ???

leonel

Gelin_

Post by Gelin_ » Thu Apr 20, 2006 8:51 am

[quote]Well, it all comes down to "Killing the sinners" which is from the bible...[/quote]

Here is my answer to that:

<i>The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "<u>If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.</u>" Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.</i> - John 8:3-8.

leo my friend, you'll have to keep looking....

gelin

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Post by admin » Thu Apr 20, 2006 9:47 am

OK, Gelin, keep it real. We all know how fond The Father was of killing sinners in the Bible. It took His Son, ironically, to "humanize" Him and get Him to become more tolerant of His own creation. But will The Son, who was willing to die in order to redeem men's sins in the eyes of The Father and placate His well-known penchant for hellfire and brimstone (Sodom and Gomorrah, The Great Flood, etc) also "humanize" him with respect to today's gays and lesbians in Jamaica and elsewhere?

We know about Jesus's great tolerance, but God the Father's?!?!? Hmm... I think that I have read from the same book as Leonel. Nèg sa pa nan rizib ak rizib non! Depi li fè kòlè, se ravaj ak devastasyon alawonnbadè!

Leonel makes another interesting point. That is, the great difference in homophobia between the sister islands of Jamaica and Haiti (not considering the Dominican Republic at this time, since I am not sure how homophobic they really are). In Haiti, homosexuality is derided, but I have never heard of anyone stoning the "masisi" and "divinèz". In fact, the Vodou religion openly embraces them, allowing them the full, if not enhanced, exercise of their spirituality without social restraint or religious condemnation. The worst that usually happens in Haiti is the snickering about men or women suspected of being homosexual. And of course, there is the also the invective factor ("jouman"). The two worst invectives in Haiti are "gèt marenn ou" and "masisi". Most of the time, when the invective "masisi" is proferred, the person who is the butt of this "jouman" is as straight as an arrow. The sexual orientation in this case does not matter at all. It's not rare for an angry woman to publicly call her man "MASISI!" while she will gladly sleep with him again, once he makes amends for whatever made her angry.

But the report about Jamaica, above, is chilling. If it describes correctly the situation, I wonder why our cultural habits are so divergent on this particular point: overall tolerance in Haiti (if you set aside the usual mockery) versus homicidal hate in Jamaica. Why is that?

Gelin_

Post by Gelin_ » Thu Apr 20, 2006 11:34 am

[quote]...I wonder why our cultural habits are so divergent on this particular point: overall tolerance in Haiti (if you set aside the usual mockery) versus homicidal hate in Jamaica. Why is that?[/quote]
leonel wanted to connect it directly with the Bible. I offered the above text to dispute that. In some muslim countries homesexual is also a great sin, and in those cases we can hardly make any connection with the Bible.

We must find it elsewhere in our own culture.

gelin

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