It is with great pleasure that I bring you greetings this holiday.
Wherever you are, I send my warmest compliments with every good wish for Christmas and the New Year.
Friends, 2012 has been a very challenging but successful year. Despite our many problems as a community and nation, we continue to show that as a people we are able to respect our friends, families, classmates and coworkers, regardless of our differences.
Close to one million Jamaicans believe the government is not doing enough to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) people from violence and discrimination. That is about a third of the population who believe our community deserves to be treated with equity like all Jamaicans. This is remarkable.
As we pause to reflect on our accomplishments over the year and consider our goals and expectations for 2013, let us remember our brothers, sisters, loved ones and friends who sadly are no longer with us.
I implore you to use this festive season as a reminder that regardless of our the color of our skin, race, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, geographical location and other priceless unique qualities that we are all one people — we are one Jamaica. Our motto couldn’t be more perfect —out of many, one people.
This Christmas let us endeavor to be even more respectful to everyone. It is only with respect and embracing our common humanity that Jamaica can be a safe, cohesive and just society. Together, we can put aside the grievances that lead prejudice, inequality, crime, violence and intolerance to build Jamaica land we love. All of us belong here no matter how unique we are. And I believe that if we accept this, it can be of immeasurable benefit to us as a people.
We have encountered many challenges this year. Some of our own still do not have a place to sleep at nights, many are without work, food or their family. While many of us are relatively unscathed by the ways in which inequality manifests itself to the LGBT community, some of us still live in great fear for our lives and that of our loved ones.
Above all of this, we must continue to be courageous. We must commit to rebuild this great nation on the principle of understanding ourselves and fellowmen and women. Each of us should invest in promoting equality regardless of our unique circumstances. Let us cultivate mutual respect and understanding among each other. Gay or straight, Christian or non-Christian, JLP or PNP let us use our talents and resources for the betterment of our country. If we can achieve this with humility, with courage and with generosity, then surely we can be the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business.
At J-FLAG we remain committed to working with government, the LGBT community, our allies, donors, the police, civil society, entertainers and any person who wishes to lend their voice to further protect and promote the human rights of all Jamaicans.
As Calvin Coolidge once said,
“Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.’
Executive Director, J-FLAG
- For Human Rights Day 2012; A Challenge, an Invitation, and an Anniversary (petchary.wordpress.com)
- Sunday Sneezes: December 23, 2012 (petchary.wordpress.com)
- Sizzla rejects overtures by gay rights activists (repeatingislands.com)
- Sunday Stupor: December 16, 2012 (petchary.wordpress.com)
(Homophobia exposed! Peter Espeut column/Gleaner)
(My message to all gays, et al: Letter to the Observer)