Remember hearing songs of love on the radio, the nervous giggles, and sweaty palms with just one glance. Well I assume you don’t remember hearing lyrics about being shot in the head for it.
Discrimination against queer people is relatively common and extremely dangerous for anyone who is or appears homosexual. This is quite common within Jamaica, which, according to NewsWeekly, is one of the most homophobic countries.
A Jamaican artist, Buju Banton, openly sang about his prejudice and hate towards the LGBT+ community. His lyrics are often catchy and easy to sing along to: “It’s like boom bye bye / Inna batty boy head”. He describes shooting a “batty boy” (a commonly used term that connects “bad” with homosexuality) in the head, supporting the alienation and assault of queer people. The song continues to say “Rude boy nah promote no nasty man”. By saying he refuses to accept the display of affection in homosexual relationships, he expresses his disgust towards a “nasty man” existence in public.
Could you imagine listening to your favorite artist singing about shooting you in the head?
In one instance, the 16 year old orphan, Dwayne Jones, who identifies as gender non-conforming, attended a dance on July 21, 2013. As a she departed, Dwayne Jones was assaulted, stabbed, and even shot at, while nobody dared to help or call the authorities. Later, her parents, who didn’t agree with her identity, refused to claim the corpse. This story emphasizes the reality, constant fear of unwarranted fatal attacks, for many queer people living in Jamaica.
The Humans Rights Watch conducted a study in 2013 presenting that more than half of the 88 Jamaican participants were victims of violence because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Jamaica has implemented laws like Sections 76, 77, and 79 in the Offences Against the Person Act, outlawing acts like anal sex punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Laws against sexual intimacy are manipulated to enable hate crimes against homosexuality in general.
What would you do if your family abandoned you, your lover was shot in the head, and your government actively sought to promote fatal threats towards you?