The harrowing experiences faced by a lesbian and a gay man reveal a culture of intolerance in Jamaica.
Referred to by human rights groups as the most homophobic place on earth, Jamaica maintains draconian sodomy laws and has been notable for its high incidence of anti-LGBT violence and rhetoric, especially in its popular music. In a culture where the denial of dignity and rights to LGBT people is a given, director Micah Fink profiles two individuals who have faced persecution and near-death because of their sexuality: Human rights activist and lawyer Maurice, forced to flee the country fearing death threats after the media reported on his marriage to a man, and young mother Simone, gunned down just outside her own home. Their stories reveal the faces of the victims of homophobia and the consequences of a country seemingly unwilling to deal with such human rights abuses.
Fink is currently in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign for $35,000 in post-production funding. There are only two weeks left to hit his target, but the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting will match contributions made, so those interested in supporting the project will see their donations count double. To keep updated on the project, visit its Facebook page, and for more on Fink’s previous work, check out his website.
To viewers living in countries that have afforded more protections to its LGBT citizens, films like Fink’s offer a stark reality check about the conditions faced daily by others around the world. What does it mean when one’s own country proves so dangerous that asylum elsewhere may be the only option to live safely? For every LGBT person who seeks refuge in a more welcoming country, how many others from his or her land are unwilling or unable to leave a place like Jamaica, or Uganda, or scores of other nations that criminalize homosexuality? Stories like Maurice and Simone’s should make viewers, gay or straight, think twice before choosing to take a vacation in Jamaica and supporting the economy of a country that doesn’t protect all its citizens – unless recent promises by the Jamaican Prime Minister to counter discrimination actually bear results in legal reforms and societal attitude shifts.
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