In an initial reaction to a CVM TV Live at 7 Online poll, Reggae/Dancehall Super star Tanya Stephens posted on her Facebook profile Shame on You Jamaica!! Shame on you !!!. The online poll had asked the question: should the Charter of Rights have included Rights for Gays and Lesbians? The results showed that 23% of respondents supported inclusion of Rights for Gays and Lesbians whilst an overwhelming majority, 77% felt that such rights were unnecessary.
Miss Stephens has further substantiated her initial comment by noting that “Many Jamaicans are such HYPOCRITES!!!!! I think the gay community should start OUTING those closet hypocrites who are publicly promoting hate!” Readers will note that Tanya Stephens has developed into an outspoken critic of homophobia and has even penned the socially conscious Jamaican anti-homophobia anthem Do you Still Care.
Within an hour of the initial posting, the comment had attracted 92 comments from mostly female respondents. Responses on the site ranged for full support of the Tanya Stephen’s comment to the traditional “GOD MADE ADAM AND EVE! ADAM NOT STEVE! AND JUST REMEMBER JAMAICA IS NOT AMERICA!” and the more nuanced “Am in full support of the exclusion of gay in di charter of rights, Jamaica need to hold their own and don’t follow other countries and sell out there morals am not violent but any day a bwoy make pass at my son is a dead madda *** dat a just my believe that still!”
In a surprise move on the same CVM TV Live at 7programme, co-host Elon Parkinson raised questions about the rationale and source of Jamaica’s culturally homophobic environment. This was after the conclusion of a discussion on the Charter of Rights debate which involved Gay Rights advocate Maurice Tomlinson and Betsy Apple both of AIDS Free World, The Reverend Garnett Roper and David Wong Ken of Jamaicans for Justice! The move when viewed in relation to the Jamaica Gleaner’s open call for tolerance for Gays and Lesbians represents a nascent convergence of vocal support by Jamaica’s Media fraternity on the matter. However, observers will note that the Gleaner’s support came from the safe distance of a nameless, faceless editorial. Mr. Parkinson’s endorsement of the Rights debate was open, bold, singular and without the explicit backing of CVM television.