The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) has responded to American Human Rights activists who are planning to boycott Jamaican products and tourism to protest against the country’s homophobic stance.

One of the products being boycotted at part of a “rum dump” taking place in New York City’s Stonewall Inn is Red Stripe Beer.

However, according to J-FLAG, Red Stripe “took the brave and principled stance to cease sponsorship of music festivals that promoted hate and intolerance, including that against members of the LGBT community. The naming of Red Stripe, therefore, as a target of this boycott is extremely damaging to the cause of LGBT activists in Jamaica.”

“Because of the possible repercussions of increased homophobic violence against our already besieged community, we feel that a tourist boycott is not the most appropriate response at this time,” J-FLAG also said in a statement.

“Jamaica’s deeply ingrained antipathy towards homosexuality and homosexuals is a social phenomenon that will not be undone by boycott campaigns or government dictate. It requires the painstaking effort of confronting the society and talking to social actors who can bring change in the way society sees LGBT people.”

In Jamaica, gay sex is punishable by up to seven years in prison under a law which dates back to British colonial rule. Britain has long since abolished the law and has urged its former colonies to do the same.

Jamaica’s prime minister, Bruce Golding, re-iterated his country’s stance on homosexuality in a statement, saying: “We are not going to yield to the pressure, whether that pressure comes from individual organisations, individuals, whether that pressure comes from foreign governments or groups of countries, to liberalise the laws as it relates to buggery.”

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