Hated to death: a gay lynching in Jamaica

3 05 2007

Pam’s House Blend reports on a gay-bashing in Jamaica, one of the most virulently homophobic societies on the planet.
A 2004 Human Rights Watch report concludes that the pervasiveness of homophobia in Jamaican society is such that it is jeopardising efforts to combat HIV/AIDS in that country, where HIV/AIDS is still seen as a “gay disease.” It also contains the following description of what can happen to gays and lesbians who speak out:

On June 9, 2004, Brian Williamson, Jamaica’s leading gay rights activist, was murdered in his home, his body mutilated by multiple knife wounds. Within an hour after his body was discovered, a Human Rights Watch researcher witnessed a crowd gathered outside the crime scene. A smiling man called out, “Battyman [homosexual] he get killed!” Many others celebrated Williamson’s murder, laughing and calling out, “let’s get them one at a time,” “that’s what you get for sin,” “let’s kill all of them.” Some sang “boom bye bye,” a line from a popular Jamaican song about killing and burning gay men.

Perhaps not unexpectedly, Public Defender Earl Witter blamed the victim.

Public Defender Earl Witter resorted to the vernacular yesterday as he advised members of the gay community to “hold your corners”, and avoid flaunting their sexual preferences in the face of those who are repulsed by their behaviour.

Condemning violence in all forms, particularly against homosexuals, the public defender, however, warned members of the gay community that if they continued to shove their tendencies on others who found it repugnant, it might incite violence.

“It may provoke a violent breach of the peace,” Mr. Witter told The Gleaner yesterday evening.

Writing in the Guardian, Decca Aitkenhead suggests that Jamaican homophobia is a legacy of “400 years of Jamaican history, starting with the sodomy of male slaves by their white owners as a means of humiliation.” She also cites Jamaica’s extreme poverty and dilapidated health, education and law enforcement systems: “for many the only support comes from churches, many of which dispense a fire-and-brimstone religion that is not merely homophobic, but designed to discourage independent thought.” What is needed on the part of the West is not vilification, Aitkenhead concludes, but debt relief, fair trade and investment: “If that happened, homophobia would soon organically dissolve.” Bullshit.

Via Dispatches from the Culture Wars

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17 05 2014

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