A fire has severely damaged the headquarters of Jamaican LGBTI rights orgainsation, J-FLAG.
The fire engulfed the building in Kingston, Jamaica’s capital, at around 9:40 PM on Sunday (30 December).
The fire department is investigating the cause of the blaze, The Gleaner reports.
A statement by J-Flag on the group’s Facebook page thanked the first responders and those offering support.
‘We are delighted there no casualties given no one was on site when the fire started and the firefighters who responded were able to extinguish the fire without anyone getting hurt,’ the statement said.
‘We will be providing an update when further details become available and how we foresee this impacting our programmes as well as to advise on the kind of support we will require to continue our operations.’
Rife with homophobia
Founded in 1998, J-FLAG is one of the most prominent LGBTI rights groups in Jamaica, which some LGBTI rights activists consider to be one of the most homophobic countries in the world.
Socio-cultural prejudices against the LGBTI community remain rife in Jamaica, and while homosexuality is not officially forbidden, male homosexual sex is illegal Sexual Offences Act (2009).
A 2014 report by Human Rights Watch found that ‘LGBT people in Jamaica face intolerable levels of violence and cannot rely on the police.’
The report highlighted a number of instances of extreme violence related to homophobia and transphobia.
However, in recent years LGBTI rights activists have been working to improve conditions for the LGBTI community.
The country saw its first Pride week take place in 2015, which has since become an annual event.
In February last year, J-FLAG released the Gay Agenda, a manifesto listing the changes the LGBTI community want to see in Jamaica.
The group chose the name as a means to reclaim the term which has been negatively leveled at the country’s LGBTI community in the past.
Jamaica’s Governor-General has also committed to revising the Sexual Offences Act throughout 2018-2019.