Gay Jamaicans Suffer Bias & Violence
The Data Lounge,
October 18, 2002 http://staging.datalounge.com/datalounge/news/record.html?record=20299
LONDON—Life for gay people in Jamaica is so
wretched, the British government estimates that hundreds and more probably
thousands have fled the island for the relative safety of the UK and US.
Jamaica and other English-speaking countries in the Caribbean are among the
most homophobic in the Western hemisphere. In an interview published by the
BBC, a gay man from Jamaica requesting anonymity, shared details of his
"I was working in security and had to use a portable radio a lot.
Every time I would get on the airwaves people would shout ‘hey, gay boy, get
off the radio’. People are constantly at you," he said.
"I was arrested for allegedly abusing a boy—something I was
wrongfully accused of and something I would never dream of doing. . . They
locked me up and the policeman told all the other inmates I was gay. . . I was
terrified. Gay men get killed in prisons."
In the summer of 1997, a Jamaican commissioner’s proposal to distribute
condoms to prisoners and guards to prevent the spread of HIV triggered prison
riots that led to the brutal murder of six prisoners branded by rioting mobs
The issue of gay rights revisited the region later that year when the
Cayman Islands decided in December of 1997 to deny berthing rights to a gay
cruise ship. Its government said the 900 passengers on board could not be
expected to maintain "appropriate standards of behavior."
Tony Blair’s government in Britain added to the consternation of many
Caribbean church leaders when it urged some of its remaining colonies and
independent former territories in the region to liberalize anti-gay laws.
In January 2001, the British Government made good on a promise made in
March 1999 and repealed anti-gay sodomy laws in five of its Caribbean
territories after local legislatures flatly refused to do so.
The move in London was angrily denounced by religious leaders on the
affected islands. The Rev. Nicholas Sykes, chief pastor of the Church of
England in the Cayman Islands, called the move "totally unacceptable to
the minds of the Christian community here."
David told the BBC of the abuse he suffered while in a Jamaican prison.
"I was hit, I was slapped. The policemen beat me and hit me so hard I am
still completely deaf in my right ear. . . I had my throat slashed and when I
went to hospital I could not tell them I was gay or they would not have
Asked if he thought life for gay people would ever improve in Jamaica, he
replied, " It is just not possible to live a normal life in Jamaica if
you are gay."
[Home] [World] [Jamaica]