Hollywood's Oscar-winning Brokeback Mountain is facing a frosty reception in Jamaica, where religious leaders are outraged by a government decision not to ban it. Directed by Ang Lee, the film's tale of closeted gay love in a macho American Mid-West movie setting has sparked widespread controversy in a country where homosexuality is still illegal. The Jamaican Cinematograph Authority yesterday passed the film for release and it is now playing at two cinemas on the island.
"I'm very distressed about it," said Major Neil Lewis of the Family Life Ministries. "We are allowing Hollywood to swamp us with the wrong things. It is dragging us down into the maelstrom of immorality."
According to Elder Allan Russell of the Emmanuel Apostolic Church, Lee's film is an attempt to "indoctrinate the world to a most sinful act". He called for it to be banned "before any further damage can be done to the minds of our young people".
Brokeback Mountain opened this week at the Palace Cineplex in Kingston and the Palace Multiplex in Montego Bay. Both venues are managed by Palace Amusement Ltd, which is anticipating protests outside each cinema. The company has defended its decision to screen the film. "I think that we are living in an open society," Melanie Graham, marketing manager at the Palace, told Jamaican newspaper The Gleaner. "No one is being forced to see it."
Gays have been persecuted in Jamaica by bigoted thugs who have been allowed by the authorities to get away with murder. In Britain, human rights campaigns like Outrage! have successfully had artists who peddle anti-gay ragga music banned from performing at concerts.