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Metropolitan Community Churches' 'Call For Love' campaign demands human rights for GLBT Jamaicans
Metropolitan Community Churches' 'Call For Love' campaign demands human rights for GLBT Jamaicans
On Valentine's Day, the worldwide faith communion of Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC) called on congregants to gather at Jamaican embassies, consulates and high commissions around the globe to demand an end to the violence that is endangering the lives of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender people in Jamaica.

The Valentine's Day "Call For Love" campaign will brought together faith communities, human rights organizations, local activists, and concerned citizens in cities around the world.

"On a day devoted to love, we're taking a stand against hatred," said Rev. Nancy Wilson, moderator of the denomination, which has churches in 28 countries. "For too many years LGBT people in Jamaica have faced a horrific campaign of harassment, intimidation, violence, ostracism, hate crimes and even death."

Citing a brutal January 29 attack in Greenvale, Manchester, Jamaica, where a club-carrying, machete-wielding mob forced their way into the private home of three Gay men and attacked them, Rev. Wilson said, "On & Valentine's Day, people of goodwill across the globe [have banded] together to demand an end to hatred and the violence it perpetrates."

According to Rev. Wilson, the January 29 incident was the latest in a long series of documented attacks against Gays and Lesbians stretching over many years. "Most of these anti-Gay crimes have received scant attention from Jamaica's civil authorities and most have gone under-reported by the Jamaican press," said Rev. Wilson.

In the Greenvale incident, a mob of 20 people surrounded a home chanting anti-Gay slogans and demanding that three Gay residents vacate the property. The mob then broke into the home, attacking the Gay residents with clubs and machetes. Two of the men were seriously wounded and required hospitalization, including one man whose ear was cut off. A third man is still missing and presumed dead.

Police were called at the time of the incident but failed to arrive for over 90 minutes.

"Gay people in Jamaica have suffered a long history of religiously-inspired and socially-sanctioned violence," said Rev. Wilson, "and it must end now! It is time for the government of Jamaica to act to protect the lives and safety of its LGBT citizens, and it's time to end the use of religion as a justification for hatred and violence."

"Regrettably, Jamaica's Prime Minister has refused to meet with a delegation of LGBT Jamaicans and faith representatives to address this matter directly with the government," added Rev. Wilson.

The Valentine's Day "Call For Love" campaign included demonstrations, protests, press conferences and prayer vigils from New York City to Miami, Toronto and Philadelphia, and Los Angeles. "We [called] upon the Honorable Dr. Kenneth Baugh, Deputy Prime Minister of Jamaica, to immediately authorize a thorough investigation into this most recent act of hatred and the simultaneous failure of law enforcement agencies to hold anyone in the mob accountable," said Rev. Wilson.

Wilson said all of the "Call For Love" rallies issued the following demands:

1. That religious leaders use their pulpits to condemn the violence and to speak out against using the Bible and other sacred texts to "justify" harming and taking human life.

2. That all political leaders and members of the police force in Jamaica uphold their sworn duty to equally protect and serve all Jamaican citizens.

3. That people of goodwill in Jamaica and around the globe end their silence and speak out on behalf of tolerance and mutual respect as the values we most cherish.

Founded in 1968, Metropolitan Community Churches is the world's largest and oldest Christian denomination with a primary, affirming ministry to Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, and Transgender persons. More than 225,000 persons annually attend programs and services of the Metropolitan Community Churches denomination, often referred to as "The Human Rights Church" for its commitment to social justice as an integral expression of Christian faith.

A MCC press release

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