Police have repeatedly attempted to evict the LGBTI youths from the sewers, with attempts to 'burn' them out and conducting early morning raids
Jamaica gay teens thrown out by their families, chased out of shelters and abandoned by the state have been told they can live in sewers.
A New Kingston judge has advised police that LGBTI teens are allowed to stay in their last option for refuge as sewers are public spaces.
Police have repeatedly tried to evict the youngsters from the sewers and gullies, on the pretext they ‘attract criminals’.
Last week on 5 March, officers once again raided the gutters and demanded the youth leave immediately.
Yvonne McCalla-Sobers, a Jamaican LGBTI rights activist, said: ‘The youngsters were understandably upset and some put up quite a struggle as they literally have nowhere else to go.
‘Police had already chased them from every abandoned building they previously occupied and the buildings were then torn down.’
She added: ‘Some of the youth were arrested for resisting their forcible eviction. They were also charged with using swear words (which is still an offense under Jamaican law).’
On 7 March, the teens were brought before the court to fine them for their language.
However, the judge has told police the sewers are a public space so the youngsters have every right to be there.
Maurice Tomlinson, a lawyer and LGBTI rights campaigner in Jamaica, told Gay Star News:
‘Although the Jamaican Commissioner of Police has issued a directive that LGBT victims are not to be discriminated against…it is clear that there is a lot of work that needs to be done with the police in order for them to respect and support the human rights of vulnerable gay Jamaicans.’
Last year in October, police officers burned down the house – as well as clothing and other property – of gay and bisexual men living in New Kingston.
And in September, four gay men in the resort city of Montego Bay had to flee their home after a mob firebombed it. They asked the police to take them in and protect them but were refused.
The property was thought to be the last place where trans teen Dwayne Jones lived before she was ‘chopped and stabbed’ to death after a party in July.