The International Gay & Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA) has said that it strongly condemns Jamaica’s “climate of fear, hatred and hostility towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.”
IGLTA is the world’s leading representative of gay and lesbian travel in 55 countries around the world.
In a media release, the organisation said that it made the statement in light of published news reports and first-hand accounts of growing anti-gay crimes and threats in Jamaica.
“We call immediately on Jamaica’s community leaders to cease their oppression, and we will continue to speak up and to spotlight these cruel and bigoted actions before tourism and business leaders everywhere,” said IGLTA.
It added that in solidarity with Jamaica’s LGBT organisation, J-FLAG, it will not call for a tourism boycott of the island nation:
“…it is not our intention to provoke reprisals or political condemnation in Jamaica by supporting a global tourism boycott. We understand this step could be counter-productive to making true progress in that Caribbean nation, and instead we will focus on education, publicity and market competition to highlight and help curb these terrible abuses.”
At IGLTA’s upcoming 25th Anniversary Convention, the body aims to highlight the situation in Jamaica.
The country has seen a number of mob attacks on gay and lesbian people, including mourners at a church funeral, over the last year. The most recent, in February, left one man severely injured and another missing and feared dead.
According to reports, police regularly stand by and watch during these incidents without taking action.
“Gays and lesbians in Jamaica face violence at home, in public, even in a house of worship, and official silence encourages the spread of hate,” said Scott Long, director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights Program at Human Rights Watch, earlier this year.