Anti-Gay Report Angers Jamaica Leaders
U.K., November 19, 2004
By Ben Townley, Gay.com U.K.
SUMMARY: Jamaica has hit back at a recent report into
its HIV/AIDS crisis, which linked ongoing and violent homophobia with the
increase in new cases.
Jamaica has hit back at a recent report into its HIV/AIDS
crisis, which linked ongoing and violent homophobia with the increase in new
The Human Rights Watch (HRW) report claimed that the
government was sanctioning abuse of gay men by refusing to decriminalize laws
banning homosexuality, while local people were so violently anti-gay that any
initiatives intended to block HIV rises were faced with prejudice and often
However, the Caribbean island’s government has hit out
at the report, claiming the study was “unacceptably insensitive.”
“We also as the duly elected representatives of the
people feel that it is the people who must set our agenda in respect of the
legislation which we pass or the repeal of any existing laws,” information
minister Burchell Whiteman said in response to the calls for
“We are certainly not about to respond to any
organization, external to this country, which may want to dictate to us how
and when to deal with the laws of our land,” the minister said.
HIV/AIDS is fast becoming a more serious problem in
Jamaica and the surrounding Caribbean islands, according to the UNAIDS
organization. More than 20,000 people were estimated to be living with the
virus at the end of 2003.
It is not the first time the island has been accused of
The recent killing of Brian Williamson, a leading gay
activist, was slammed by local LGBT people as a hate crime, despite police
offices drawing no link between his death and high visibility as an activist.
Additionally, the ongoing controversy over homophobia in
music has been directed at the island, which has produced the majority of
dancehall and reggae stars currently under fire because of their anti-gay
Despite these latest comments, the government has
officially announced it will look into the issues raised by HRW.
to Death: Homophobia, Violence, and Jamaica’s HIV/AIDS Epidemic
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