The Pulitzer Centre: 'The Abominable Crime'
Dr O'Hear: On Friday March 28th, we were very fortunate to welcome the Pulitzer Centre on Crisis Reporting to BDA to deliver a talk to Year 12 and 13 on their most recent documentary, The Abominable Crime. The documentary (directed by Mikah Fink) examines the legal struggle faced by homosexual Jamaicans to attain the same rights and protections as heterosexual citizens.
At the moment homosexual acts are punishable by ten years hard labour in Jamaica and homophobic violence is extremely commonplace. Most people, once 'outed' have to go into hiding or flee the country. We saw this struggle through the eyes of Maurice Tomlinson, human rights activist and gay Jamaican who had to seek asylum in Canada, and Simone, a lesbian, who was the victim of a triple shooting and had to seek asylum in the Netherlands with her daughter.
We were especially fortunate to have Maurice Tomlinson (fresh from addressing the UK Parliament) come to BDA with the Pulitzer team in order share his moving and inspirational experiences with the students. He is without doubt one of the bravest people I have ever had the privilege to meet as, although he has received many death threats and endured attempts on his life, he still returns to Jamaica on a regular basis to continue the legal battle against Jamaica's harsh laws and also with individual discrimination cases (he is a practising lawyer).
Although homosexuality can be a challenging issue for some of our students, they should be commended for listening respectfully and for joining in with the discussion. Particularly good questions came from Ivan, Adonay and Gianina in Year 13 and from Inis and Jemima in Year 12. I think we all left with a conviction that even if you feel ambivalent about homosexuality on a personal or religious level, it is absolutely crucial that all people, regardless of their sexuality, are protected by the law from mindless violence and discrimination, as they are in this country.
As Simone so movingly argues in the film, her persecutors are not God and ultimately only God has the right to judge her.