In late 2013, the Jamaican tourist board introduced a new slogan, “Jamaica – Get All Right,” to replace its slogan “Once you go, you know,” but the earlier slogan may be the better one for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Canadians planning a trip to Jamaica because although the slogan tells tourists they’ll know, it doesn’t tell them what they’ll know when they get there,
In fact, know is not the best word; discover is a better word. lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender tourists will discover that the Jamaican government supports “antiquated ‘buggery laws’ – which outlaw anal sex and all male homosexual conduct” and do not protect (LGBT) Jamaicans from discrimination and violence. Therefore, there is good reason to fear that LGBT tourists will be in the same danger.
Udo Schuklenk is aware of the anti-LGBT laws in Jamaica, so when he saw that his local gym, GoodLife, is encouraging its members to enter a competition to win a trip to Jamaica, he wrote an Open Letter to GoodLife’s CEO:
Jamaica is a militantly homophobic society, religious fundamentalists have written anti-gay provision into the country’s constitution. . . . My husband and I would be up ‘eligible’ for an up-to ten year jail term should we choose to engage in sexual intercourse during a vacation we might win if we took part in your competition. . . . I am writing to you today to ask that you cancel the ongoing competition and replace the ‘Jamaica’ labelled posters with posters that offer a vacation price, but a vacation of the winner’s choosing. Otherwise, you really are telling your gay and lesbian members that our well-being and safety is of no concern to you, and that the current competition celebrating the chain’s 36th anniversary is really addressed to the club’s straight members only.
Schuklenk received a reply:
A part of the rules and regulations for this contest include the ability to substitute, modify etc. trips for any reason. Should you win this trip, we would be happy to award you with a trip of equal value to another destination.
However, although Tara McLain from the GoodLife marketing department admits the company was “not aware that this legislation exists in Jamaica,” she is aware now. The response she received from Tourism Jamaica makes it very clear that its laws, including its “‘buggery laws” will be enforced and must be respected:
In keeping with travel to any destination in the world, we encourage visitors to respect Jamaican laws and community standards, and to take reasonable measures to enhance their travel experience.
Tourism Jamaica’s reply is a obvious threat and McLain and GoodLife should recognize that the offer to win a trip to Jamaica insults all Canadian members of their gym. No straight member of GoodLife should be asked to take a vacation in a country where their LGBTQ friends and relatives are not safe.