top2.gif - 6.71 K

bannerbot.gif - 8.68 K

Jamaica: Big Tourist Dollar Loss in Store for Bigots

$17 Billion: Global Gay & Lesbian Travel Receipts

Bias Hurts Country's Already Fragile Tourist Industry

Compiled By GayToday

jamaclove.gif - 13.30 K Jamaica--In light of a number of concerns raised recently by gay and lesbian tourist interests, the Jamaica Forum of Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays, J-FLAG, has called on government and tourism interests to make Jamaica more appealing to the U.S. $17 billion international gay and lesbian tourist market.

J-FLAG activists say they are concerned that Jamaica's international image--unfriendly to gays and lesbians-- will damage their country's already fragile tourist industry.

The organization's leadership indicated its concern about the potential impact of a recent controversy involving Microsoft, Yahoo, and the Sandals hotel chain, with specific reference to discriminatory policies regarding gays and lesbians.

J-FLAG's members believe, they say, that hotel chains have the right to decide whether a clientele is predominantly gay or straight, but cautioned that in an increasingly competitive global marketplace, adherence to non-discriminatory policies is a key to survival.

Related Stories from the GayToday Archive:
Caribbean Islands Resist British Pressure on Gay Sex

Bahamian Preachers Protest Gay Cruise

Cayman Islands Boycott Drive Gathers Steam

Related Sites:

GayToday does not endorse related sites.

Additionally, the organization notes that Jamaica's internationally known homophobia will alienate it from more progressive nations that have no sanctions against sexual practices between consenting adults.

Jamaica, it appears, is set to come under increasing pressure from international gay and lesbian organizations, such as the International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association, whose Executive Director Agustin Merlo on December 30, 1998 stated that his organization:

"strongly condemns Jamaican authorities for failing to ensure the safety, welfare and comfort of gays and lesbians living on and visiting the island nation. The island nation appears to be a leader in the region's emerging homophobia that has already shown its ugly face in the Cayman Islands and Costa Rica. That is a tragedy."

Merlo continued: "If Jamaica is unwilling or unprepared to welcome gay and lesbian tourists to [its] shores, then IGLTA is prepared to warn all of our member companies and associations that our tourist dollars are no longer welcome in that country."

The activists are pointing out that if Jamaica continues to be seen as a destination that discriminates against gay and lesbian tourists, it will lose the multi-billion dollar international gay and lesbian tourist market, which South Africa, with its nondiscriminatory policies, has already aggressively begun to court.

Considering the importance of tourism to Jamaica's economy, J-FLAG says it is calling on the government and tourism interests to put in place measures aimed at welcoming all tourists regardless of their sexual orientation.

Buggery and Gross Indecency Laws Condemned

jamaicagay.gif - 4.22 K An official statement by J-FLAG states that "any move toward welcoming gay and lesbian tourists to the island should be accompanied by the repealing of the island's buggery law and a change in the interpretation of the gross indecency law."

According to J-FLAG, the gross indecency law punishes homosexual acts which are not covered under the buggery law. The organization views these laws as state interference in the private lives of individuals, and believes that they serve only to promote the persecution of gays.

J-FLAG says that it remains open to the government and other tourism interests for discussions on these matters, as it considers them critical to Jamaica's social and economic advancement.
Telephone: 876-978-1954
Fax: 876-978-7876

bannerbot.gif - 8.68 K
© 1997-99 BEI