Being LGBT is a death sentence in many African and Caribbean counties. Jamaica is one of those places. The Abominable Crime, a film that gives voice to gay Jamaicans forced to flee their homeland due to endemic anti-gay violence, will conclude the seventh season of AfroPoP: The Ultimate Exchange. The film will air on the WORLD Channel as the final episode of the documentary series on contemporary art, life and culture in the African Diaspora.
In 2006, TIME magazine wrote that Jamaica was perhaps “the most homophobic place on Earth.” The island nation is renowned for its anti-gay violence, with homosexuals facing assault, stabbings, rape and even murder. The bias translates into the law, with 91% of Jamaicans opposed to repeal of the anti-buggery (anti-sodomy) law, according to an opinion poll conducted by Jamaica’s The Gleaner newspaper in September 2014.
Micah Fink’s The Abominable Crime, named after the Jamaican law that criminalizes homosexual acts, takes viewers beyond the headlines to the real-life individuals affected by anti-gay violence. Simone, a single mother shot for being a lesbian, faces the heartbreaking choice of hiding with her daughter in Jamaica in constant fear for their lives or escaping alone to seek safety and asylum abroad. Maurice, one of Jamaica’s leading human-rights activists, challenges his country’s anti-sodomy law, only to receive a flood of death threats that force him to flee to Canada. But with other lives at stake, will he risk it all to return to continue his activism?
“My hope is that The Abominable Crime will help shatter stereotypes about gays and lesbians, says Fink. “We encourage viewers to take a deeper look at homophobia, including some of the long-term impacts of it on individuals and on the Jamaican society at large, including on the battle against the HIV pandemic.”
The film was made possible by a grant from The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. “Micah has brought an extraordinary human touch to the issue of anti-gay sentiment and attacks in Jamaica by introducing audiences to two brave souls deeply affected by it,” notes NBPC executive director Leslie Fields-Cruz. “Their courage in the face of life-threatening violence will be an inspiration to all.”
An online screening and chat with director Micah Fink and Maurice on Wednesday, February 18, at 5:30 PM ET. The event is co-sponsored by Human Rights Watch. To sign up: https://ovee.itvs.org/screenings/xx0ov.
The documentary premieres on Monday, February 29, 2015at 8 pm ET/10 pm PT and will be available at blackpublicmedia.org for a month. A press release on the film/episode is attached as is a press kit with details. If you’d like to interview the director or Maurice, please let me know.
Additional films in the series—which can be seen on public television stations around the country as well as online on WORLDChannel.org, local public station websites and blackpublicmedia.org—include Maggie Betts’ The Carrier, a community in Zambia attempts at stopping HIV from infecting the next generation; and, Hélène Harder’s Ladies’ Turn, which follows a team of girls and young women fighting against misogynistic and religious sentiment for a chance at playing soccer.
To watch The Abominable Crime trailer, click here.