By Julie Bolcer
Originally published on Advocate.com August 17 2011 9:35 AM ET
Television Jamaica, a major station on the Caribbean island, has declined to carry a paid public service announcement from the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays that encourages acceptance of LGBT family members and friends.
According to the Jamaica Observer, TVJ said it would not run the PSA, the first of its kind in Jamaica, because of concerns over “the structure of the announcement, among other things," including the opposition of homophobic pastors.
The PSA features former Miss Jamaica World and Miss Jamaica Universe Christine Straw with her gay brother, Matthew Straw, in a pitch for Jamaicans to show "unconditional love" to LGBT family members and friends. J-Flag launched the PSA last month and wanted to see it air this month on national TV.
The Observer reports that Gary Allen, the managing director of TVJ parent company RJR Communications Group, expressed concern about the paid nature of the PSA, and he acknowledged that his station took into account the opposition of some pastors and public opinion. He also said his group did not want to promote the PSA and risk violating any laws, as homosexuality, specifically sex between two men, remains a punishable offense in Jamaica.
Dane Lewis, executive director of J-Flag, expressed disappointment over the rejection of the PSA meant to promote love and acceptance. He said his group would continue negotiations with CVM, the island's other major TV station, and still hoped to see it air.
"Since we are not directly or indirectly promoting anything that is illegal, love is not illegal, we don't see why we shouldn't be able to go forward, so we are going to continue our discussion and hope that we can quickly come to some solution to have it aired," he said.
Human rights groups including Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have documented widespread violence against LGBT people in Jamaica. The island is regarded as a dangerous place for LGBT citizens.