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Gareth Henry, Jamaican Gay Activist, Seeks Refugee Status in Canada

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Gareth Henry, one of three gay men who were surrounded by an angry mob outside a pharmacy one year ago today in St. Andrew, Jamaica, is seeking refugee status in Canada.

HenryCBC reports: "Henry says 13 of his friends have been killed in Jamaica since 2004. One 22-year-old friend who was suspected of being gay was chased by a mob, Henry told CBC News. The only place he could run to was the harbour. He couldn't swim. 'Everyone,' said Henry, 'stood and watched him drown.' Henry, who was vocal activist with the country's pioneering gay-rights organization J-FLAG, Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays, has had his own troubling experiences. On Valentine's Day last year, he was caught in a pharmacy and surrounded by an angry mob, he said. There was no protection from the police or state. 'When you find police officers who are leading mob attacks, turning up at people's home like myself, pointing guns at my window, with civilians with them, and saying that I need to leave or they're going to kill me, it reinforces homophobia.'"

Henry, a leading activist in Jamaica, says it is a place to which he can no longer return.

Jamaican gay activist seeks refugee status in Canada [tr]

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Comments

  1. It`s shocking for me that people could be so cruel that they think they have to right to persecute and kill innocent folks based on sexual orientation.
    I don`t understand why jamaicans are so anti-gay. Even in the Middle-East where gay men are sentenced to death(though the laws are rarely practiced, except for Iran), the level of hatred is not as rampant. Mob attacks, what is the world coming to!

    Posted by: ChrissieChang | Feb 14, 2008 10:44:55 AM


  2. Repressed homosexual urges, Chrissie.

    Posted by: 24play | Feb 14, 2008 10:58:23 AM


  3. He better get refugee status here in Canada. It would be an outrage if he were sent back to Jamaica.

    Posted by: Jeff | Feb 14, 2008 10:58:44 AM


  4. Well, I hope that Canada is more compassionate than the USA is towards victims of gay violence and grant him and anyone else refugee status that is as vile as it is in Jamaica to be gay and not have safety or protection of the law.

    Posted by: Sebastian | Feb 14, 2008 10:59:15 AM


  5. I've been asking myself the same question for quite some time now,CHRISSIECHANG. I don't know if Jamaicans are more homo-haters than the rest of the world. Maybe they are. But the fact remains that poverty and poor education are as rampant on that island. I've got tons of friends who are both gay and of Jamaican descent and they tell me that when one sits down with an average heterosexual jamaican, the last thing on the mind is who screws who and who they get screwed by. I think it boils down to the fact that the authorities are always trying to find a scapegoat when they can't heal the many social wounds they face, by saying to the public "...see, we're doing all we can to protect you from evil doers..." Also, keep in mind that economically speaking-and education wise-the middle east countries are doing a hell of a lot better in comparison with Africa and the West Indies.
    I wish Gareth Henry luck and I'll probably be seeing him around, in the village here in Toronto.

    Posted by: Shabaka | Feb 14, 2008 11:02:27 AM


  6. Jamaica has the world's highest murder rate. Many human-rights groups call it the most homophobic place on earth. The slums are dominated by ultraconservative Christian churches and intensely anti-gay Rastafarians. Add to that low levels of education and hateful political scapegoating and hey presto.

    Posted by: FASTLAD | Feb 14, 2008 11:18:13 AM


  7. I agree with you, SHABAKA, you bring up issues that rarely get highlighted when we discuss the blatant anti-gay violence in "Third World" countries. But what part does the anti-gay lyrics in Reggae play in what appears to be the extreme violence against Gay Jamaicans? Do Reggae performers call for the killing of any other type of people in their music? Years ago, my next door neighbor used to play records by the Calypso artist, Sparrow. Sparrow had a song that was openly about gay people, "I went with Harry, I went with Mack, I went Tony and I went Jack, and I shame, I shame, I shame to see what I do." Now, those weren't exactly positive lyrics, but no sang about killing the batty man (gay men). Something has happened these last few decades to make the hatred of gay people more intense and deadly.

    But there have been lynch mob attacks on gay people in this country too--let's not forget that. The attack on Kevin Aviance by six pieces of shit last year could've easily turned fatal. That was an attempted lynching.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Feb 14, 2008 11:24:00 AM


  8. I have said it once and I will say it again: even though withholding tourist dollars from that country might indirectly cut off those gay Jamaicans that are trapped in that little island nation, I refuse to even tacitly accept the lack of intolerance there by spending one single dime or encouraging anyone to ever visit there.

    Posted by: the other jeff | Feb 14, 2008 11:43:16 AM


  9. But is Jamaica that different from the U.S. where gay people still suffer gay bashings: 13 year old killed in junior high, young man chased onto a highway, young man killed at a picnic in California, young man murdered outside a bar, young woman punched in a bar, gay bashings in Sydney, etc.

    Vicious anti-gay violence takes place every- where. As for organized violence, we can easily look at the brutal attacks on gay activists in Russia, Latvia, and Lithuiania, too.

    Hopefully, Henry will be able to move to Canada and find peace there that's not interrupted by some angry, drunk frat boys looking to rough up a gay man.

    Posted by: noah | Feb 14, 2008 11:59:01 AM


  10. Everytime I see the Jamaican Tourist Board commercials I sing along:

    "Come to Jamaica and we sleet your troat!"

    Posted by: christopher | Feb 14, 2008 12:06:33 PM


  11. Obviously, Jamaica is overloaded with ignorance and backwards thinking fools. It's hard to speed up a people's evolution instantly, it's time for a complete gay ban of anything Jamaican until something is done there to promote awareness.

    Posted by: bryanD | Feb 14, 2008 12:12:21 PM


  12. True, BYYAND, but, you have to remember, that most of the Jamaicans are just like the religious nut cases here, all told to hate gays by the church, temple or mosque which is the reason and root of all this hate and homophobia on this planet.

    Posted by: Sebastian | Feb 14, 2008 12:16:47 PM


  13. Keep them Poor,in Poverty and stupid...that's what religion wants to Control these people...maybe they need to be shown info on Slavery,and the treatmwent of blacks with WAS religious backed!

    Posted by: Disgusted American | Feb 14, 2008 12:57:40 PM


  14. We will embrace you with open arms, Gareth. As you come in peace, we will fight for you, while you continue to fight for the rights of LGBT's to live with dignity and respect in the world.
    I hope you come to Toronto, we need more Jamaicans to reach out to the community. I am crossing my fingers.

    Posted by: Violet | Feb 14, 2008 1:36:55 PM


  15. I dunno, but boycotting Jamaica and its tourism industry would more damage to the general population than any good. I really don't know what to suggest but someone mentioned pressure from western governments as well as funding education and although that would take time to get people to see things differently, in the long run it'd benefit the nation altogether.
    And NOAH is correct. We'got the same ignorant ass bigots right here in North America, the difference is that they get to pay for their crimes whereas down there, the police is leading the lynching mobs.

    Posted by: Shabaka | Feb 14, 2008 1:38:26 PM


  16. My father's family is from Jamaica. I haven't been there since 1963. It's a lovely place but something horrible has happened to it fro reasons Shabak speels out quite well. This same attitude is rife throughout the region, including the Bahamas. No boycott needed. It's simply not safe for gay people to go there. In fact it's increasingly unsafe for anyone of any sexual orientation to go there. Once a tourist paradise these islands are now hell on earth. No effort is being made to change this. If this trend continues there will be nothing left of them in a decade's time.

    Posted by: David Ehrenstein | Feb 14, 2008 2:47:52 PM


  17. David is right - the Carribean is notoriously homophobic. Jamaica probably the worst. It really isn't safe there.

    What I always thought ironic is how half the seasonal workers in Ptown are from Jamaica. I spent a season working there at a well-known restuarant and got a real homophobic vibe, and remarks, from some of the staff.

    Also, at Fort Lauderdale Airport many of the baggage workers are from the Carribean. I know of a friend who had a worker yell at him for hugging a male friend. he had to go to management and complain. And I am sure the people who got on the intercom last year reciting Bible verses were from the same region.

    Sometimes people have to repress other people to make themselves feel better - thats all I can say.

    Posted by: A | Feb 14, 2008 4:44:19 PM


  18. What a terrible thing. Hope everything goes on well. Don't have thing kind of thing happen again, espcially on this special day.
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    Posted by: susie | Feb 14, 2008 8:55:56 PM


  19. The Rastas are anti-gay? That surprises me, as Sinead O'Connor for the past few albums has been Jah this and Jah that, i think even recording on the island. Wonder what she and other musicians who record there would have to say about it. And what about the United Nations? Isn't there some human rights court to go to when a group of people chase a man, a citizen of his own country, into the water and watch him drown?

    Posted by: Daniel | Feb 14, 2008 11:02:04 PM


  20. All I have to say to this, is that any gay person that goes to Jamaica or the West Indies for a vacation, should be ashamed of himself or herself. He/she should get some horrible disease to pay for his/hers treason to all gays. The only way to change these attitudes is hit them in the pocket. That what they understand. and YES, rastafarians are homophobics to the core. Whether they are on ganja or sober.

    Posted by: Oscar | Feb 15, 2008 1:21:39 AM


  21. i cannot figure why one disenfranchised minority gangs up against another. is it because those in power pit one against the other? although blacks in jamaica are no better off than their black gay brethern, there is a misdirected rage towards those they consider the lesser beings. i am not blaming the class struggle in jamaica. i am merely using it as a case in point.

    that battle persists in all countries, no matter how civilized or aculturated they presume to be. there seems to be a built-in antipathy towards those who are not "us". the sooner we realize that "they" are in fact "us", the sooner we can cleanse the body politic of the filth of rovian politics and the cancer of the polemics that separates jew from xtian, from moslem from the demonic west, from whites from blacks from browns, from staights from gays, and ultimately from human being to human being.

    Posted by: nic | Feb 15, 2008 2:06:10 AM


  22. How dare you Oscar for comparing a race of people to your gay life style ,you know moraly,spiritualy,physically homesexulity is wrong .
    You people need to stop confusing the young children with your abnormal behavior, do you know what's like when your 9 year old came to you and said daddy I was in the park today and saw two men hugging and kissing each other ."why"
    Iwish you people would stop useing Jamaican as a scapegoat ,yes we are against homesexulity you should all be ashame of yourselves !!! fire bun all homos.

    Posted by: Michael | Feb 25, 2008 7:14:14 PM


  23. yo Jamaica is not the only place that are against gays look at Sierra Leone where you can get a life imprisonment just for being gay. i hope all gays to boycott Jamaica so we dont have to deal with you guys any more your discusting

    Posted by: yo mom | Apr 4, 2008 11:40:19 AM


  24. Adam was meant for Eve and not for Steve...Boom BYE..BYE...They don't want Jackie they want Paul instead!

    Jamaica is not the only place that is homophobic. You have countries in Africa and Middle East that treat gay citizens worse than Jamaica is portrayed!!!!

    Yea sure you will get a lot done with boycotting Jamaica and its products. What about the rest of the Caribbean and even the Middle east where they will stone you to death for labeling your sexual orientation.........

    So are you going to boycott buying oil too?....Do your history people.....You so called Americans are so educated then why the hell do you have students from third world countries (Caribbean, Africa, Asia) score higher on standardized tests than American born.......Enroll in a community college and take a history course...U DUMB CUNTS.....BOOM BYE BYE FOR ALL OF YOU

    Posted by: Against Batty Bwoy | Mar 16, 2009 6:46:54 PM


  25. EVERY ONE IS FREE 2 HAVE THEIR OWN OPINION,THE SAME REASON U ALL SPEAK ILL OF JAMAICA[NS] IS THE VERY REASON WHY THEY HATE U BATTY BOWYS,U SAY THEY NEED 2 B INFORMED & EDUCATED SO DO U... ALL THIS SHIT ABOUT LACK OF EDUCATION..THE LITTLE THAT WE HAVE WE MAKE GOOD USE OF...WITH ALL U GOT WE STILL CAN GIVE AND BE COMPETITION TO U ALL...I DONT TAKE SIDES BECUZ I DO HAVE FAMILY THAT ARE GAY & R JAMAICANS THAT DONT HAVE THESE "HORROR" STORIES,IT IS EASY TO CAST JUDGEMENT WHEN ONE IS PISSED, BUT THE TRUTH OF THE MATTER IS..EVEN THU FIGHTING FOR SO LONG THERE IS STILL RACISIM, SO DONT EXPECT ANY SPECIAL TREATMENT FROM ANY ONE,NOTHING COMES EASY..WHAT U ALL THINK IS A CURSE {POVERTY ETC]MAYBE A BLESSING IN DISGUISE IF MY LITTLE COUNTRY HAD D RESOURCES U ALL BOAST ABOUT WE WUD B UNSTOPPABLE- U MAY B PISSED B CUZ THEY DONT ACCEPT BATTY-IZM BUT THE HEART, SOUL & SPIRIT OF A JAMAICAN IS NOT EASILY BROKEN..VENT IF U HAVE 2 BUT WHEN U SPEAK-DOWN OF PEOPLE COUNTRY U R GUILTY OF THEY VERY SAME THINK U ACCUSE US OF..I WAS ABLE 2 LEAVE MY WONDERFUL COUNTRY 4 MORE INDEPTH EDUCATION & JAMAICA NEVER LEFT MY MIND & I STILL DO ALL I CAN 4 MY COUNTRY... FOGGOTS BOUYCOTTING OUR PARADISE MEANS NOTHING BECUZ OTHERS R FALLLING IN LUV WITH US EVERYDAY...DO BE WHERE U FEEL SAFE, "EVERY ONE HAS A RIGHT 2 DECIDE THEIR OWN DESTINY... WHO LUV "WE" KEEPING LUVING "WE" who nuh like "WE!" WE D O N T CARE!! SUCH IS LIFE!

    Posted by: TRUTHFUL | Mar 24, 2009 4:01:01 AM


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