Jamaica and USA stand for Gay Rights!

The LGBT community celebrated an historic victory for gender equality when the US Supreme Court overthrew the Defense of Marriage Act.

The LGBT community celebrated an historic victory for gender equality when the US Supreme Court overthrew the Defense of Marriage Act.

 

It’s been an interesting week in the world of gay! Or should I capitalise that to Gay, since it’s always guaranteed to raise a capitalized reaction, especially among certain members of the St Lucian Facebook community, or as I like to call them, cyber-crazies. While they ranted and raved about what they claim the Old Testament says (I have the greatest respect for what the book says, it’s when it’s misquoted purposefully that I get all hot and bothered) a courageous young man named Javed Jaghai embarked on a historic legal campaign against Jamaica’s 1864 anti-buggery law, declaring it unconstitutional and a contravention of his rights to privacy and equality as a citizen of Jamaica, notorious as the Caribbean’s most openly homophobic country.

Lawyers Maurice Tomlinson and Annika Grey are the legal team representing Jaghai in his ground-breaking case, and as they prepared for court on June 25th, church and religious groups across Jamaica organised the weekend before a series of protests supportive of the island’s 149-year-old anti-buggery law. By midweek the LGBT news and social networks were ablaze with opinions from both sides of this most timely of civil rights lawsuits.

Hardly surprising, the least enlightening position on the issue came from the Catholic church. The bishop’s letter to Javed Jaghai’s legal team was in stark contrast to that from the bishop of Roseau who last May wrote a very clear communication to the Dominican LGBT community, and Jamaica-born Bishop Kenneth Richards of Antigua & Barbuda, who has

also expressed support for the church’s position on gender-based discrimination and violence—laws that make criminals of otherwise law-abiding citizens who engage in same-sex relationships.

If anyone cares to know what the Pope—leader of more than 12 billion Catholics—says about decriminalising homosexuality, just ask the Most Reverend Gabriel Mazaire, not the Bishop of Kingston Charles Lahour, who vaguely acknowledged a 2011 position, then went on to imply the anti-gay faithful were somehow being oppressed for their views. Typically, he ended with a final volley in defence of marriage as strictly involving a man-woman. It was a disappointing response to Tomlinson’s direct request for a statement, given the near mass hysterical level of anti-gay reaction from the religious community, and the pressing need for a transparent policy statement from the Catholic and other churches.

Meanwhile, in Sarah Flood-Beaubrun’s alleged current homeland, on Thursday the US Supreme Court overthrew the Defence of Marriage Act and rejected an appeal against Proposition 8, a California State constitutional amendment which made marriage legal only between a man and a woman. It was a rainbow-letter day across the USA and beyond, as the worldwide Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community celebrated the historic victory for gender equality, and thousands of same sex Bridezillas started to plan their weddings.

Although the war is not yet won, with the will of good people and courage of activists this might turn out to be a pivotal moment for America, in much the same way as Rosa Parks’ seemingly small personal protest became an iconic catalyst to a wider movement of change worldwide!

On the other side of the world, President Obama took time out to acknowledge the SCOTUS decision: “I applaud the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act. This was discrimination enshrined in law. It treated loving, committed gay and lesbian couples as a separate and lesser class of people. The Supreme Court has righted that wrong, and our country is better off for it. We are a people who declared that we are all created equal – and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.

“This ruling is a victory for couples who have long fought for equal treatment under the law; for children whose parents’ marriages will now be recognized, rightly, as legitimate; for families that, at long last, will get the respect and protection they deserve; and for friends and supporters who have wanted nothing more than to see their loved ones treated fairly and have worked hard to persuade their nation to change for the better.”

As the President proved last year, Obama is not afraid to take a stand on gay rights. During his African visit he pushed for acceptance and respect for diversity in views, faith, religion, gender and sexual orientation across the continent.

“I don’t believe in discrimination of any sort,” he said in Senegal on June 27. “That’s my personal view and I speak as somebody who obviously comes from a country in which there were times when people were not treated equally under the law, and we had to fight long and hard through a civil rights struggle to make sure that happens. So my basic view is . . . when it comes to how the law treats you, how the state treats you—the benefits, the rights and the responsibilities under the law—people should be treated equally. And that’s a principle that I think applies universally, and the good news is it’s an easy principle to remember.”

Despite these momentous events in our neighbouring democracies, back in cyber-St Lucia the religious zealots, self-righteous hypocrites, illiterates (convenient and otherwise), pink-conspiracy theorists and other crazies continued spouting their fundamentalist, delusional BS from high on the banks of denial. Whenever the gay conversation comes up in St Lucia it’s like some folks live in an alternative universe where a few gay people loving each other in their own time without the threat of going to jail are going to magically transform a law-abiding utopian island nation into a bunch of swinging sexual anarchists.

All at once the attention turns away from the country’s corrupt politicians and police, deprived children and the adults who abuse them in every way, the impact of VAT or whatever happens to be the bobol du jour. All of a sudden it’s bullah-bashing time!”

It’s like the ten commandments are just an old Charlton Heston movie on HTS every Good Friday, instead of a blueprint for Christian life—but I wonder how many of those God-fearing Face-bookers can reel off the ten commandments without feeling sick to their stomachs, with guilt!

 

 

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