in a letter to the Gleaner Ms Carolyn Gomes says:
The Editor, Sir:
In recent weeks, there has been much ado in the media about the ‘walk’ in Montego Bay to draw attention to the high level of intolerance towards persons vulnerable to, living with and affected by HIV/AIDS. Much of the discussion so far has been clouded by questions about whether this was a walk for tolerance or a gay march, as gays rightly participated in this walk, being one of the groups most vulnerable to HIV/AIDS.
While there have been opportunities to discuss some of the critical issues highlighted by the walk, one question seems left unanswered – namely – what if it was indeed a gay march – so what? What would be so wrong with members of the Jamaican gay community raising awareness about their right to exist?
Indeed, gay rights are human rights, as was so well articulated by no less a person than the notable Anglican Archbishop emeritus Desmond Tutu. In an article titled ‘In Africa … A Step Backward On Human Rights’, published by the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation and reproduced in The Sunday Gleaner on April 18, Mr Tutu made the significant point that, “No one should be excluded from our love, our compassion or our concern because of race or gender, faith or ethnicity – or because of their sexual orientation. Nor should anyone be excluded from health care on any of these grounds.” In essence, he provided an opportunity to frame the discussion about how we as a people should respond to each other – love of humanity regardless of our differences. The truth is that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people who are part of so many families are suffering from the bigotry and prejudice that exist.
Rethink and renew
It is high time we as Jamaicans take stock of the abuse we perpetuate in denying our brothers and sisters the opportunity to earn a decent living, access health care and the love of family and each other because of prejudices, laws and policies that we inherited from our colonial masters. Loving acceptance of each other and tolerance of differences, protecting the rights of all, are what we are called to live and display. In the words of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
Let us begin this process of rethinking and renewal sooner rather than later.
I am, etc.,