Jamaica’s out-going assistant police commissioner Les Green has denied the existence of widespread homophobia in the country and blamed the gay community for the violence it faces.
The former Scotland Yard officer told the Jamaica Observer the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community were too flamboyant and public about their sexuality.
LGBT campaigners in the country have condemned his comments.
Green, who has just left the island after eight years as second in command in Jamaica’s police force, said: ‘I am not into gay-bashing, but the problem is cross-dressing and going downtown. Do they do that to create a media blitz? That just seems too contrived.
‘It’s just the hype from some who claim Jamaica is very anti-homosexual, but the reality is far from that. There are many homosexuals who live and work freely in Jamaica.’
He said most murders of gay men are carried out by their partners, and denied claims that LGBT community faces discrimination, despite evidence to the contrary.
Last year the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights issued precautionary measures for three gay men in Jamaica after they received threats and the authorities failed to investigate properly or offer them adequate protection.
And this week the IACHR issued a condemnation of the murders last month of two men thought to be gay, and called on the authorities to investigate the crime.
J-Flag, Jamaica’s leading LGBT rights group, released a statement in response to Green’s comments highlighting the double murder and demanding the authorities address discrimination against LGBT people.
‘Among the most recent attacks against the gay community was the savage killing of two young men,’ the statement said. ‘The men were apparently brutally murdered with blunt instruments in the vicinity of the intersection of Trafalgar Road and Lady Musgrave Road.
‘People who are homeless frequent this area. Among them are young gay men who have been made homeless because of the continued intolerance of homosexuality in Jamaica.
‘We call on the prime minister and the ministers of national security and labor and social security to listen to the cries and needs of members of our community who continue to be subjected to discrimination and violence, have nowhere to live and no food to eat because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.’
Maurice Tomlinson is a leading Jamaican gay rights activist who was forced to flee the country when police failed to threat him from death threats against him.
He said: ‘I have long suspected that ACP Green’s support for the human rights of LGBTI Jamaicans was less than wholehearted. For example, in early 2011 when I emailed him about the homophobic slurs made by the police officer to whom I reported my first death threat, Mr. Green’s response was that "such an attitude was unfortunate and would not change until the (anti-sodomy) law changes."
‘It is clear that ACP Green has been infected with the same malaise (or he probably brought his low-grade homophobia with him from the London police force) which typifies the Jamaica Constabulary Force. He therefore believes that gay Jamaicans should not be seen and definitely not be heard.
‘He also seems very content to identify with those who strenuously argue that gay Jamaicans are engaged in some kind of suicide pact and most, if not all the attacks against the Jamaican gay community are self-inflicted.’
Tomlinson agreed that domestic violence was a problem in the LGBT community, though had a different view from Green.
‘Some homosexual Jamaicans engage in acts of domestic violence, just like some heterosexual Jamaicans,’ he said. ‘This is a function of our national problem with conflict resolution. The critical difference is that straight victims of domestic violence have the protection of the country’s Domestic Violence Act while gay Jamaicans do not.
‘Les Green demonstrates the classic signs of someone who is woefully deficient in critical thinking skills. Thankfully his tour of duty with the Jamaican police force is coming to an end.
‘The Jamaican government has said that more UK police are coming to the country. I sincerely hope that Green’s replacement is more familiar with basic human rights principles and has the capacity to really think for himself, instead of being sucked into the anti-gay group think of the monolithic Jamaican police force.’
An Amnesty International report published in May found that attacks and harassment of gay men and lesbians were common, and many cases were not promptly or fully investigated.
Same-sex relationships are criminalized, as they are in almost all English-speaking Caribbean countries. Local organizations continue to document threats, violence, torture, arbitrary arrests and murder of gay men and lesbians.