LAST week’s beating by security guards of a student accused of engaging in homosexual acts in a University of Technology (UTech) bathroom, captured on video and widely circulated, brought into sharp focus a 2012 study that suggested that Jamaicans are becoming increasingly more tolerant of homosexuals.
The National Survey of Attitudes and Perceptions of Jamaicans Towards Same-Sex Relationships, released in June this year, found that while Jamaicans continue to have strong negative attitudes towards homosexuality, one in every five is tolerant of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons and would support an addendum to the Charter of Rights affording impartiality to that community.
"These findings speak to the progress we are making as a people in respecting the humanity, dignity and equality of LGBT persons," is how Dane Lewis, J-Flag’s executive director, interpreted the data.
The study, conducted by University of the West Indies statistician, Professor Ian Boxill, was commissioned by J-Flag (Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays). It was funded by international advocacy organisation AIDS-Free World and was a follow-up to the 2011 study on Jamaicans’ views about homosexuality and what determined those attitudes.
Boxill used a nationally representative sample of 1,000 persons between 18 and 84 years and two focus groups. One of these focus groups comprised highly skilled professionals and the other, inner-city males who were predominantly low-skilled, self-employed and/or unemployed.
According to the survey, "The professional group was mixed along gender lines and the inner-city group was an all-male group whose ages ranged between 18 and 35 years".
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