It’s known as “The Most Homophobic Place on Earth” and on Wednesday, gay rights activists are going to the birthplace of the modern gay movement to help kick-off a boycott of Jamaica over its flagrant and institutionalized human rights violations and bigotry. They’re going to, quite literally, dump the hate down the sewer.
The owners of the Stonewall Inn will dump their supplies of Red Stripe Beer and Myer’s Rum down the drain, following a similar rum dump in San Francisco earlier this month. The organizers of the boycott are calling on gays and lesbians, as well as allies, to stop buying Jamaican products and to vacation in other spots until the Jamaican government changes its policies.
The boycott was started by GLBT activists Michael Petrelis, Wayne Besen and Jim Burroway after a state department report was released highlighting abuses against gay people in the tropical nation best known for voodoo, Rastafarian and daiquiris, however what it ought to be known for is state-sponsored brutalization of its gay and lesbian citizens. In March, Jamaica’s Prime Minister, Bruce Golding said:
“We are not going to yield to the pressure, whether that pressure comes from individual organizations, individuals, whether that pressure comes from foreign governments or groups of countries, to liberalize the laws as it relates to buggery.”
Sounds like a dare, to us, especially considering just how unbearable its become for Jamaica’s LGBT population.
Some of the lowlights from the Boycott Jamaica site:
- On Feb. 23, 2009, two men (Dwayne Gordon and Andy Williams) allegedly stabbed to death Dane Harris because he was gay. The accused murderers are trying to justify the crime by alleging that Harris made sexual advances.
- In Jan. 2008, a mob burst into the house of a gay man, Andre, having dinner with his friends. They were screaming homophobic epithets and waving machetes, sticks and knives. 15 to 20 men kicked in the front door of the home and beat them senseless. Andre’s skull had deep cut marks and his ear was sliced in half, horizontally.
- Two of the island’s most prominent gay activists, Brian Williamson and Steve Harvey, were murdered — and a crowd even celebrated over Williamson’s mutilated body.
- In 2006, Kingston man, Nokia Cowan, drowned after a crowd shouting ”batty boy” (a Jamaican anti-gay insult) chased him off a pier.
And from the State Department’s report:
“Members [of The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All Sexuals, and Gays] … suffered attacks on their property, home intrusions as people demanded to know the number of persons and beds in a home, and in one instance, a fire bombing at the home of two men that left one of them with burns on more than 60 percent of his body. In addition homosexuals faced death and arson threats, with some of these directed at the J-FLAG offices. J-FLAG did not publicize its location due to such threats, and its officials reported feeling unsafe having meetings with clients at the organization’s office.”
These are only a few examples of the violence that’s happening on a regular basis. With the government unwilling to act, and in many cases facilitating anti-LGBT violence, gay rights activists are saying they have no choice but to organize the boycott and are calling on LGBT and LGBT-friendly bars to join in refusing to purchase Jamaican products. Bensen says,
“If you love your gay friends and family members, you won’t visit Jamaica. If you care about the human rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people, you won’t buy Jamaican products. We hope that all gay and gay friendly bar owners and restaurateurs across the nation will participate in ‘rum dumps.’ We can no longer subsidize our own slaughter.”
The group is calling on gay activists (that’s you) to organize “rum dumps” in your city “where Myers Rum and Red Stripe Beer are poured out in front of a bar that is participating in our boycott” as well as organize protests at bars and local Jamaican embassies and consulates to raise awareness.
This boycott, along with the online fury over Amazon this week shows how quickly and formidable LGBT activists have become by maximizing the power of the Internet, proving that the online world isn’t just for porn, but social justice as well.