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New York protests against Jamaican anti-gay hate

LGBT rights campaigners protested against homophobia and called for a repeal of anti-sodomy law in front of the Jamaican consulate in New York
LGBT rights campaigners protested against homophobia and called for a repeal of anti-sodomy law in front of the Jamaican consulate in New York

Gay rights campaigners demanded an end to Jamaican ant-gay hate in protest held in front of the country's consulate in New York.

They also demanded the goverment of Jamaica tackles growing homophobia and repeal the country's anti-gay laws.

The protest was held yesterday (19 November 19) and was precipitated by a brutal attack against a gay student by security guards of the University of Technology, Jamaica.

Two of the four guards who were caught on video during the attack have been dismissed and taken into police custody. The other guards who stood by and did nothing remain employed to the security company contracted to provide security at the university.

Since January 2011, the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) the island’s main gay rights group recorded fifty-one incidents of attacks against LGBT including, home invasions, physical assaults and mob attacks.

In June 2012, members of the Jamaican LGBT community reported that eight gay men had been murdered in the prior three months.

The protestors called upon the government of Jamaica to do more to fight against such anti-gay hate and deliver on elections pledges to decriminalise homosexuality.

During her December 2011 election campaign, Jamaica’s new prime minister, Portia Simpson-Miller, promised to call for parliamentary conscience vote to review the country’s 148 year old anti-sodomy law.

The law imposes a 10 year prison sentence at hard-labour for even private acts of consensual adult same-sex intimacy.

The prime minister also said she would appoint an LGBT individual to her cabinet, breaking with the anti-gay stance of her predecessor, Bruce Golding who in 2008 that he would never allow gays to form part of his government.

Partly as a result of her courageous stance in this notoriously homophobic country, Simpson-Miller was selected as one of TIME Magazine’s top 100 most influential persons for 2011, ahead of U.S. secretary of state, Hillary Rodham-Clinton.

However, nearly a year after her promise, the prime minister has not taken steps to bring the issue of the law to the floor of parliament.

Fundamentalist religious groups in Jamaica with strong ties to North American evangelical associations have strongly opposed a repeal of the law, claiming that it will open the door to marriage equality.

Protestors also highlighted that the law must be repealed in order to aid the fight against HIV and AIDS.

Dwayne Brown, a gay Jamaican who fled to the USA because of death threats, organized yesterday’s demonstration and said ‘It is time for the Government of Jamaica to protect and preserve the human rights of LGBT Jamaicans. We the people will continue to stand and speak out against homophobia until the civil rights of LGBT Jamaicans are protected.’

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