Jamaica Ranks at the Top for Homophobia in the Caribbean
The Caribbean is notoriously homophobic, but Jamaica is considered the most fanatically anti-gay country in the region. A Jamaican band’s popular song, “Chi Chi Man,” received frequent radio play in the United States as well as throughout the islands, even though it was about firebombing gays in their cars and at social clubs. Due to the Jamaican patois lyrics and the chorus sung to the traditional and catchy Christmas song “Do You Hear What I Hear?” most Americans were ignorant as to what this song was about. Jamaicans loved the song, however, and in 2001 a major Jamaican political party used it as its theme during elections. Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case; Jamaican popular dancehall music frequently includes anti-gay rhetoric.
In May 2015, two gay officials from the U.S. Agency for International Development traveled to Jamaica to discuss LGBT issues on the island with members of the Jamaican government. Protesters claiming to belong to a Christian youth organization picketed the hotel where the officials were staying, decrying foreign interference in Jamaican religion and culture. This highlights the entrenched views towards LGBT that date back to colonial times and are set in the legal code. The LGBT community is simply perceived as a threat to family life and Christian morals, and any shift in stance would be seen as caving into foreign oppression. TV stations don’t even allow pro-LGBT ads or public service announcements to be shown. People even suspected of being gay are attacked and sometimes killed by mobs on the street.
LGBT Tourism in Jamaica Is Difficult
If you are looking for LGBT friendly spots, the major resorts of Jamaica accept LGBT tourists, but not by choice; they were placed under economic pressure to do so by the international community that prevents discrimination in advertising. Of course, a tourist who spends time at a secluded resort to enjoy some sun and sand need not fear for his or her life. The resorts politely ignore same-sex couples, and some tour operators are even friendly; however, you can expect dirty looks and negative remarks out in town. You are expected to practice discretion; public displays of affection are dangerous, and you could even in some cases be assaulted.
This is something you must consider; could you really have a comfortable and relaxing vacation in a place where you feel unwanted and at fault for being yourself?