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0 comments | Monday, February 04, 2008

Jamaica continues to stay in the news for the islands homophobic and often deadly treatment towards gay men. Last May we reported an incident where an angry mob attacked a man on the street in broad daylight. And in another incident a group of gay men sought refuge in a convenient store from a mob who threatened to kill them simply because they were gay. The new year has brought about more horrific stories.

On the evening of January 29, group of men approached a house where four males lived in the central Jamaican town of Mandeville, and demanded that they leave the community because they were gay, according to human rights defenders who spoke with the victims. Later that evening, a mob returned and surrounded the house. The four men inside called the police when they saw the crowd gathering; the mob started to attack the house, shouting and throwing bottles. Those in the house called police again and were told that the police were on the way. Approximately half an hour later, 15-20 men broke down the door and began beating and slashing the inhabitants.

Human rights defenders who spoke to the victims also reported that police arrived half an hour after the mob had broken into the house - 90 minutes after the men first called for help. One of the victims managed to flee with the mob pursuing. A Jamaican newspaper reported that blood was found at the mouth of a nearby pit, suggesting he had fallen inside or may have been killed nearby. The police escorted the three other victims away from the scene; two of them were taken to the hospital. One of the men had his left ear severed, his arm broken in two places, and his spine reportedly damaged. Source: K C Info Zine

Last October poet/activist Stacey Ann Chinn gave Oprah Winfrey a first hand account of her experience as a lesbian in Jamaica. You can view the video here.

I've been told by many reggae/dancehall music lovers stateside that Jamaica's intolerance and hatred towards gays and lesbians are apart of their culture and will most likely never change. The violence endured by gays and lesbians in Jamaica at the hands of homophobic assailants is justified by their religious beliefs. The police in Jamaica are apart of the problem. It has taken anywhere from thirty minutes to an hour and a half for the police to arrive on the scene of these hate crimes and in most cases they've stood by and allowed the violence to continue.

Something must be done. Our brothers and sisters in Jamaica are living in fear from day to day simply because of who they love. It's inhumane and no civilized country should subject their citizens to such barbaric punishment based on their sexual orientation.

We write about the dangerous culture in Jamaica all the time but I have yet to see anyone devise an action plan(that I know of) to combat the hatred that exists there. If you're working on a plan or you know someone who is then count me in.


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