Jamaica’s Prime Minister Andrew Holness should not let Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte off the hook for her ill-advised tweet stating flying the rainbow flag was disrespecting Jamaica’s laws.
I realize that she is a newbie in her role as attorney general, but she has to understand that senior government officials cannot express their personal views publicly, especially on sensitive matters. It invariably does more harm than good. Given we are living in a 24-hour news cycle aided by social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, the backlash can be swift and stinging.
The implication of one expressing one’s personal views is fraught with danger. That is borne out by Malahoo Forte tweet accusing the U.S. government of disrespecting Jamaica’s laws in the aftermath of the worst mass shooting in America’s history. The U.S. is one of Jamaica’s strongest allies and to level such an insult is not just unfortunate. It’s inconceivable and just plain stupid.
The tweet now puts Jamaica back in the crosshairs of scrutiny for its long history of homophobia. The country has an abysmal record on promoting gay rights. There are many, many stories involving violence against the LGBT community. It is time for leaders to give real equality to all people and repeal the archaic buggery law.
Former Prime Minister Bruce Golding once said, “no gays in my Cabinet” and was immediately repudiated on the international stage.
Malahoo Forte’s tweet reinforces the tone-deafness of the Jamaica Labour Party with regards to gay rights. Former prime minister Bruce Golding once famously said “no gays in my Cabinet.” It’s the same kind of backward thinking that got Malahoo Forte in hot water on the international stage.
Jamaica holds a special place in my heart because that’s the land of my birth. I do follow the news there quite a bit. A few years ago, I wrote about transgender youths living in city sewers because they were shunned by their families. That’s a sad commentary but that’s hardly surprising considering the island’s abysmal record on gay rights. The reality is government officials can’t offer condolences for a massacre at a gay club, while scoffing at what is happening on the ground in Jamaica.
The fallout will continue as Jamaica will not be in the news cycle for its world class beaches but for its history of homophobia. Yes, that rainbow flag tweet from Malahoo Forte just started a discussion they didn’t want to have.