Jamaica Denies Systemic Homophobia

Fri. November 19, 2004 12:00 AM by 365gay.com

Kingston - The Jamaican government has told an international human rights organization that chastised it for allowing rampant homophobia to mind its own business.

Human Rights Watch in a report earlier this week accused the government of turning a bind eye to police abuses on gays and people with HIV/AIDS.

The organization also called on Jamaica to repeal its sodomy laws which are used to target gays.

Thursday, the government accused HRW of bully tactics and said it would not be swayed by foreign influences.

"We find the approach of this organization unacceptably insensitive," Information Minister Burchell Whiteman said in a statement.

"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. 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," Senator Whiteman said.

The international media has focused on Jamaica following the furor over homophobic lyrics by some reggae singers.

One performer, Sizzla, was barred from entering the UK following complaints about his music.

Sizzla's hit tune Pump Up has the line “Shot battybwoy, my big gun boom (Shoot queers, my big gun goes boom)”.

Another singer is wanted for the vicious beating of a gay man in Kingston.

Following the release of the Human Rights Watch report Superintendent Ionie Ramsey of the Jamaica Constabulary Force announced that the police High Command had ordered a probe into the allegations.

©365Gay.com 2004

This article originally appeared on 365gay.com. Republished with permission.