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March 10, 2009

JAMAICAN TRAVEL WARNING!

The Caribbean is a beautiful place to visit. Lush, tropical islands ringed with miles and miles of white, sandy beaches. Complete with an almost endless supply of bright, warm sunshine beckoning you with the promise of long, lazy days of snorkeling, scuba diving, exploring or just hanging out on the beach sipping exotic beverages. It can truly be a vacation paradise.

BUT, if you're gay, there is one island that can turn your dream vacation into a dark, dangerous and even life threatening nightmare. Jamaica.

Over the weekend, Box Turtle Bulletin posted an excellent, and scary, story about Jamaica's extreme homophobia.

As most of you probably already know, Jamaica has a long history of myopic homophobia. It's an ingrained part of their culture - just as it once was in this country before the activist gay movement started changing minds and laws. In Jamaica however, it's not just something that the general populist believes and lives, it's hardcore, official public policy.

In response to the strained relations this has caused between the United Kingdom (Jamaica's protector) and the Jamaican government, Prime Minister Bruce Golding told Parliament that, "...gay rights advocates are perhaps the most organized lobby in the world” and he vowed to preserve the country’s 145-year-old anti-sodomy law that prohibits sexual acts between men.

He went on to say:

“We are not going to yield to the pressure, whether that pressure comes from individual organisations, individuals, whether that pressure comes from foreign governments or groups of countries, to liberalise the laws as it relates to buggery.”

As the BTB story put it:

This language is not simply a stance taken by a politician; it represents a deep and pervasive homophobic culture. Gay men and women are in real danger in that country.

So, if you are planning on taking a Caribbean cruise, I would strongly advise against visiting Jamaica. Not only isn't it worth the very real risk of physical harm but it would also be very poor judgement to spend your hard-earned dollars in a country that would rather see you in prison for life - or worse.

If you'd like to read BTB's full story, go to: http://www.boxturtlebulletin.com/2009/03/07/9523