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Jamaica: LGBT film director says reports of homophobia are not exaggerated but ‘Jamaica will come around’

Amy Ashenden March 27, 2013

The director of a film investigating homophobia in Jamaica, featured at the London LGBT Film Festival, has said the extent of the problem is not exaggerated, but she believes “Jamaica will come around.”

Director Selena Blake told TrustLaw, a women’s legal rights organisation that the investigations she undertook for her film came as a shock to her: “I didn’t know this was happening,”

Blake’s film, ‘Taboo Yardies’, documents the rife homophobia and violence against gay people in her native Caribbean country.

At the LGBT Film Festival in London last weekend she said:  “Sometimes you hear something, and you don’t want to believe it. You think [people] are just exaggerating, but they’re not.”

The New-York based filmmaker captured one particularly shocking clip of a Jamaican man stating that if he had a gay child: “I’d murder my own son.”

Blake said in an interview with Reuters she thinks the reason behind homophobia in Jamaica is “people take the bible literally”.

“I don’t think I have an answer 100% because it is so variable…there are so many reasons they are homophobic,” she added.

“If a gay man in a certain area is being victimised, they will be ignored…people need to be held accountable.” She added that in Jamaica “we have a problem and the worst thing we can do as Jamaicans is to ignore it.

“They’re at the point where it’s like a freight train – you can’t stop it because gay Jamaicans are Jamaicans. And so the policy and our government and the people there will have to catch up and understand that. There are people who are different and that’s a wonderful thing.

“Jamaicans on a whole, we weren’t raised around a community of gay, lesbian, trans and bisexual. And it’s new, and it will take a moment to kind of grasp.”

She concluded that the country would become more tolerant as people become more open about LGBT lives, saying: “Jamaica will come around.”

The Jamaican criminal code prohibits sex between men and sentences for buggery can include 10 years imprisonment with hard labour – the laws date back to the island’s colonial past.

In October 2012 three men launched legal action against Jamaica over the harm caused by its anti-gay laws.

More: Americas, bfi, Caribbean, director, documentary, Film Reviews, Homophobia, Jamaica, Jamaica, lgbt film, London

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