Use hard evidence for gay rights (Observer Letter)

Dear Editor,

One of the reasons given by our parliamentarians for excluding sexual orientation as grounds for non-discrimination in the proposed Charter of Rights and Freedoms is to prevent gay marriages being allowed “through the back door”. This is clearly a red herring as Jamaican gays have not asked for marriage rights.

What they are demanding is respect for their human rights to, among other things, privacy and non-discrimination in employment. Tolerance is what they are seeking, while acceptance remains optional.

Be that as it may, there is no evidence that even if gay unions were allowed, this would lead to catastrophic population collapse due to the abandonment of heterosexual sex; or irreparable harm to children raised in gay households (the two most popular arguments against gay unions).

There is no evidence of population collapse in any of the 22 countries, including South Africa, where gay unions have been legalised. Indeed, it is ludicrous to think that in our highly sexualised society, Jamaicans would suddenly abandon straight sex if gays were allowed to marry or form civil unions.

Secondly, since 2005 the American Psychological Association has reported that “home environments provided by lesbian and gay parents are as likely as those provided by heterosexual parents to support and enable children’s psychosocial growth”.

Gays who wish to form stable lifelong partnerships could actually provide homes for numerous abandoned children languishing in state care. Our leaders should decide the matter of human rights for Jamaica’s gay population on the basis of hard evidence and not hysterical emotion.

 Maurice Tomlinson