Other Points of view on The San Fran boycott 2

by Carrie –

Gay rights activists in the United States are preparing a national boycott of Jamaica, known by some as “the most homophobic place on Earth.” The boycott will officially launch on Wednesday, at New York’s Stonewall Inn, with activists dumping Myers’ Rum and Red Stripe beer (both Jamaican products) down a sewer. In addition to liquor, the boycott will target tourism — a significant aspect of Jamaica’s economy.
At first glance, this appears to be a worthy battle for LGBT activists to take on. Instead of constantly focusing on same-sex marriage legislation, why not consider those living in parts of the world where gays and lesbians are continually beaten and murdered because of their sexual orientations?
Well, there’s one significant issue with the boycott: Jamaica’s LGBT population is opposed to it.
According to a press release from Jamaica Forum for Lesbians Allsexuals and Gays (JFLAG), the boycott would most likely hurt, rather than help, the lives of LGBT Jamaicans. From the press release:
Jamaica’s deeply ingrained antipathy towards homosexuality and homosexuals is a social phenomenon that will not be undone by boycott campaigns or government dictate. It requires the painstaking effort of confronting the society and talking to social actors who can bring change in the way society sees LGBT people….It is important that our international allies understand the nature of our struggle and engage us in a respectful way about it.
The organizers of the boycott have heard JFLAG’s perspective — and have decided to continue with the boycott anyway, arguing that LGBT Jamaicans are not in a position to support a boycott, as it would endanger their lives.
Now, personally, I’m uncomfortable with boycotts of this nature under most circumstances. While it’s certainly true that damaging a nation’s economy is a powerful way to communicate a message to a governing body, it’s also true that such significant economic interference can negatively affect the lives of innocent civilians. In this case, damaging Jamaica’s economy will affect the lives of the country’s LGBT citizens — a community already marginalized and faced with the reality of homophobic violence.
But in this case, I think the boycott is particularly inappropriate. To ignore the years of work JFLAG has tirelessly put into creating a safe environment for LGBT Jamaicans is to undermine the very people these American activists claim to support. Disrespecting a community in the name of activism is offensive and inappropriate. And given the history of queer persecution in Jamaica, there is no evidence that the boycott would diminish the homophobic violence that plagues the nation. Though the activism behind this boycott may be well-intentioned, it is certainly misguided.
Do any of you support this boycott? If not, what alternatives, if any, are there for helping the LGBT people of Jamaica in a respectful manner?

Other Points of view on The San Fran boycott

Gay Jamaicans Voice Support for BoycottsPosted April 15th, 2009 by Michael Airhart

Some Jamaicans are speaking out in favor of efforts to boycott Jamaican goods or music until leaders take serious action to reduce antigay vigilantism.
Perhaps most prominent among music-boycott supporters is Gareth Henry, who was the co-chair of Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals, and Gays until he was forced to flee the country for Canada last year. J-FLAG publicly expresses disagreement with the boycott, but according Xtra.ca, Henry says that JFLAG can’t be seen to publicly support a boycott.
“They can’t be the ones to call for the boycott,” he says. “They can’t be that voice. But the gays, lesbians and queers on the ground are supportive of a boycott.”

Henry says he’s tried talking to the government.
“We have tried numerous approaches, numerous dialogues with government officials,” he says. “They have been non-responsive to the call. We have to hit people where it’s going to hurt, where they’ll feel it. In the Jamaican context talk is cheap. After 10 years of JFLAG’s existence what else can we do?”

Meanwhile, Stop Murder Music Canada (SMMC) — which advocates a boycott of Jamaican musicians whose songs contain violently homophobic lyrics — is now calling for a boycott of Jamaica if the country’s government doesn’t take action on homophobic violence by May 12.
Xtra.ca reports that Canada’s reggae community is split on the issue.
Christian Lacoste, an openly gay Montreal reggae fan who runs the website Murder Inna Dancehall, supports both the boycott and an official immigration ban on visits by homophobic dancehall artists. But Cezar Brumeanu, who runs the Montreal International Reggae Festival and that city’s House of Reggae nightclub, opposes a boycott.

Another boycott supporter: Jamaican blogger Dave, supports BoycottJamaica.org, a newer boycott of Jamaican goods and tourism. Dave — who is forced to remain anonymous to protect his safety — says:
This could potentially devastate my country during this global recession but this is basically the only thing I can do to improve my living conditions without putting myself in physical danger. Jamaica sucks when it comes to addressing LGBT issues and I am tired of living under these stupid conditions. Obviously, LGBT issues require much more attention Worldwide, even in the US, but Jamaica just refuses to even give us any basic rights. And they NEVER speak out against violence against gays. I don’t F-ing care how long it takes, just Boycott our asses and pass the word along.

The goals of BoycottJamaica.org are modest: There is no requirement that Jamaica affirm same-sex orientation or legalize same-sex intimacy. Instead, BoycottJamaica calls for Jamaican officials to publicly commit to ending antigay violence, and for the Prime Minister to clearly and unequivocally condemn antigay violence and express regret for past violence.
But they refuse. Until Jamaican leaders declare a halt to antigay vigilantism, a boycott appears to be the only way for LGBT people in the United States, and their allies, to tell Jamaica that they will no longer subsidize Jamaicans’ war against their gay neighbors and against basic human decency in exported music.

Hat tip: Box Turtle Bulletin