Saturday, March 3, 2007

Violent Homophobia in Jamaica - Call to Action

After reading the following media release you are encouraged to contact:
The Hon. Peter MacKay, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Trade,
(613) 992-6022
(613) 992-2337
Web Site:*
Preferred Language:
Constituency Offices
219 Main Street, No 303
Antigonish, Nova Scotia
B2G 2C1

Telephone: (902) 863-7005
Fax: (902) 863-7006

The Right Reverend Alfred Charles Reid,Bishop of Jamaica,2 Caledonia Avenue
Kingston 5, Jamaica, West Indies
Tel: (876) 926-8925
Fax (876) 968-0618
Diocese of Jamaica

P U B L I C S T A T E M E N TFor Immediate Release: February 20, 2007 Leader of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC)Expresses Outrage Over Attacks on Gays in JamaicaIssues Urgent Call For Prayers, Actions To SupportJamaicans Targeted For Violence And Abuse Statement byRev. Elder Nancy L. WilsonOffice of the ModeratorMetropolitan Community Churches A series of escalating attacks against gays and lesbians in Jamaica hasprompted our call today for island officials to guarantee the human rights andsafety of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons across Jamaica. Today I am calling upon people of conscience around the world to speak upand to support those who are struggling for human and civil rights in Jamaica. The lethal combination of homophobia and AIDS-phobia must stop. We cannotstand by and watch as our sisters and brothers are tormented, beaten, raped andkilled solely for being who they are. There are leaders in Jamaica,including political and religious leaders, who have failed to speak up. Such silenceis not acceptable. Now is the time for all people of goodwill to speak outfor justice and against intolerance. No person of conscience should remainsilent in the face of the continuing horrific attacks on gays in Jamaica. The Valentine’s Day attack on three gay men at a pharmacy in Tropical Plazain St. Andrews parish of Jamaica is part of a pattern of violence againstgays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgender persons. This pattern of anti-gayviolence, which has included public beatings and numerous murders of gay people,has often flown under the radar of the Jamaican press and received scantattention from civil authorities. According to the gay rights group Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All Sexualsand Gays (J-FLAG), three men were shopping in a local pharmacy in the parish ofSt. Andrew when two of them were targeted by an unnamed woman whoreprimanded them for what she termed “distasteful” behavior. According to eyewitnesses,she left the store and made a phone call that resulted in a large crowdgathering at the Monarch Pharmacy. The crowd called for the three men to be “sentout” to face them. The incident is tragically reminiscent of the infamousbiblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah, found in the 19th chapter of the Book ofGenesis. The management of the pharmacy locked the three men inside for their safetyuntil police arrived. To get the men out of the pharmacy and into a waitingpolice van, officers fired tear gas into the crowd. One of the men reported hewas gun-butted by the police and another was hit in the head with a stone.All three men report they were repeatedly taunted by the police officers withanti-gay slurs. Since the Valentines Day attack, the tragedy and violence have continued togrow. Over the last few days, other gay people reportedly have been attackedin Ocho Rios and Montego Bay, and at least one gay person in Montego Bay hasbeen murdered. And on Sunday, there was an unconfirmed report that one of thethree men attacked on Valentines Day had attempted suicide in the aftermathof the attack. Metropolitan Community Churches, which recently opened a worshipping community in Jamaica, offered to relocate the gay men to a safer venue. The men havealso been encouraged by their friends to go into hiding until their safety can be assured. We are deeply concerned for the safety of these men, and forthe well-being of thousands of gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgenderpersons in Jamaica — a country designated by Time magazine as “the mosthomophobic country in the Western Hemisphere.” One of the young men, whom we willonly identify by his first name of Gareth, said, “They may kill me, but I amdead already if I do nothing.” He said he will stay and continue to fight for the human rights of all Jamaicans, including its lesbian and gay citizens. While viewed throughout much of the world as a vacation paradise for itspristine beaches, the sad truth is that Jamaica harbors the world’s highestmurder rate. Over the past several years, Metropolitan Community Churches hasconfirmed a pattern of abuse, hostility, attacks, and murder of persons solelybecause they may be perceived to be gay or lesbian, from the mutilation of gayrights activists Brian Williamson and the murder of Steve Harvey, to thekilling of two lesbians whose bodies were left in a ditch and whose known slayerwas for days left unquestioned by police, to the father who upon learning ofhis young son’s gay identity, invited a crowd to the boy’s school to lynchhim. In light of these developments, I have asked the Global Justice Team ofMetropolitan Community Churches, led by Rev. Pat Bumgardner, to monitor the situation in Jamaica and to assist the Office of the Moderator in developing an on-going plan to support human rights for the gay community there. I have also designated Rev. Robert Griffin as MCC’s representative to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people and groups across Jamaica. On behalf of Metropolitan Community Churches, I am today calling upon peopleof goodwill everywhere to stand up and say, “Enough is enough!” There can beno moral or Biblical justification for the targeting and slaughter of anygroup of people simply because of who they are. It was wrong to target Jewishpeople in World War II, and it was shameful to target U.S. citizens ofJapanese origin for internment during that same time. It was wrong to target ethnicgroups in Eastern Europe and Chesnya; it was wrong to target the Hutu andTutsi tribes of Rwanda for genocide in the 1990’s; and it is wrong to target thepeople of Darfur in the Sudan today. And such targeting is just as morallyreprehensible when used against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgenderpeople in Jamaica. It is imperative that the world raise a united voice once again – this timeagainst the violence, hatred, and murder that is targeted against God’s gaychildren, not only in Jamaica, but also around the globe. Today I call upon political leaders and spiritual leaders in Jamaica to workpublicly for an end to identity-motivated violence. Today I call upon all people of goodwill to speak out on behalf of thosewhose lives are marginalized and jeopardized by hatred, bigotry, and violence inJamaica. Today, I call upon people of faith to hold these three men who were attackedon Valentines Day in your prayers, along with a growing number ofindividuals and families across Jamaica whose lives have been touched by a pattern ofanti-gay violence. Today, I call upon the leaders of all religious communions to join indeclaring Ash Wednesday a day of fasting and prayer for an end to the violenceagainst gay people in Jamaica. And today I call for concerned people everywhere to write directly toJamaica’s Prime Minister, The Most Honorable Portia Simpson Miller, by e-mail ( . Ask her to speak out publiclyagainst the violence, to establish a tone of respect and tolerance for all life,and to guarantee the human rights and safety of Jamaica’s gay, lesbian,bisexual and transgender citizens. This Lenten season is an appropriate time for people of goodwill everywhereto change course and live together in ways that honor the sanctity and valueof all life. /signed/Rev. Elder Nancy L. WilsonOffice of the ModeratorMetropolitan Community Churches


God"s love is for all creation

God"s love is for all creation
God has many names