Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Gay Jamaicans' Families Hire Thugs
to 'Cure' Them of Homosexuality

Yesterday's New York Daily News printed a story with good and bad news involving gay and lesbian people from Jamaica. Of the positive developments, more of our brothers and sisters from island nation are being granted asylum in the U.S.

However, some of them say their relatives paid thugs to attack and harm them, a disturbing and reprehensible practice that reinforces Jamaica's status as a country unsafe for gays.

The government in Kingston denies there is institutional and religious persecution of gays, and too many leaders express the belief that brutal violence against gays is perpetrated by other gays, or that the survivors of the violence deserved their assaults. From the Daily News:

A growing number of gay and lesbian Jamaicans are finding safe haven in New York after being persecuted - sometimes by family members - back home.

Jamaicans in the New York area made up nearly a third of the 105 gay and lesbian immigrants who won asylum last year with the help of the legal aid group Immigration Equality. ...

Steve Ralls of Immigration Equality said the danger in Jamaica for gays is "pretty much undisputed" and pinned the blame on conservative religious views, anti-gay dancehall culture and police force. ...

Anthony, who did not want his full name used, left the southeastern St. Catherine Parish in 2008 after he was viciously attacked by men yelling "batty boy" - the Jamaican slur for gay. ...

He woke up in the hospital with broken arms and cuts all over his body. Three police officers were in his room, and one said, "Oh, batty boy, you are getting what you deserve," he said.

He believes his own sister set him up. ...

Ralls said several of his group's lesbian clients were attacked by men hired by their families to "cure" their homosexuality. ...

In other news about gay Jamaicans, the site today published a report almost wholly taken from the country's leading gay human rights advocacy and social support organization, about their calls for legislative changes:

The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) is appealing to members of the Senate to move to have Jamaicans protected from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

The Charter of Rights, which protects the fundamental rights of all Jamaicans, is currently before the Senate having been passed by the House of Representatives.

But, JFLAG says the bill as passed by the lower house does not provide sufficiently for the protection from discrimination of a number of vulnerable and marginalised groups in the population.

J-FLAG says it is calling for all Senators to ensure that they capitalise on the present opportunity to decisively protect the human rights of all Jamaicans. ...

I wish the gay Jamaicans and their straight allies the best in making some headway with their Senate regarding the changes demanded. The Jamaican gay community has suffered enough and its members more than deserve legal protections, not persecutions, from their government and leaders.

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