GLBT Jamaicans Facing “intolerable levels of violence” – Human Rights Watch Report

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Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people in Jamaica face “intolerable levels of violence and cannot rely on the police” for protection, according to a new Human Rights Watch.

Jamaica has long had a reputation as being of intolerance towards GLBT people, but a recent report by the New York based Human Rights Watch reveals just how bad the current situation is.

The Human Rights Watch notes that “LGBT Jamaicans are vulnerable to both physical and sexual violence and many live in constant fear. They are taunted, threatened, fired from their jobs, thrown out of their homes, or worse: beaten, stoned, raped, or killed.”

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The report titled “Not Safe at Home” notes that police investigations into violence against GLBT people were “often inadequate or lacking altogether”.

Just last year, a transgender teenager Dwayne Jones was killed by a mob just outside the city of Montego Bay, a murder which remains unsolved.

In 2013 alone, there were 56 cases of violence reported where the victims stated they were targeted because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity.

The report also documented cases of discrimination by government institutions, including health care facilities and in the private sector.

“Families and neighbours often drive LGBT people from their homes and communities. Landlords refuse to rent to LGBT people; health providers stigmatise them when they seek services; and employers arbitrarily fire them,” the report notes.

Jamaica is among a number of Caribbean nations which still have anti sodomy laws in place, which the Human Rights Watch has called on the Jamaican government to strike down, in addition to taking up measures to protect GLBT Jamaicans from discrimination and violence.

While there has been some attempts to investigate crimes against GLBT Jamaicans and to halt violence, this are seen as not enough. “In the past decade the Jamaican police have taken some steps to address the scourge of homophobic violence, but clearly these steps are not enough,” said Graeme Reid, GLBT rights director at Human Rights Watch.

“So long as discriminatory laws remain in place, piecemeal measures will never be adequate.”

Article | Levi Joule 

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