Gays Seek Asylum Outside Jamaica
Anti-gay graffiti on a Jamaican wall.
Gays living in Jamaica face difficulty reconciling two parts of themselves—being gay and being Jamaican.
Homosexuality is illegal in Jamaica, and considered a sin by church-going Jamaicans. Pastors rail against homosexuality from the pulpit, reggae lyrics glamorize gay killings and sodomy laws make homosexuality punishable by a 10-year prison sentence of hard labor.
The “Jamaica Views blog” questions whether discrimination is getting worse and suggests that the situation can only improve when churches, schools and society as a whole reform their teachings.
Last May, Jamaica’s prime minister said he would not allow homosexuals into his cabinet. Jamaicans reacted to the prime minister’s public anti-gay declaration.
According to Immigration Equality, a New York-based national organization that works to seek asylum for persecuted gays, each month brings new stories and different versions of the same crimes — murder, attacks, beatings — against gays by Jamaican citizens and police. There has also been little effort by the government to outlaw the “buggery” or sodomy laws.
Jamaica’s intolerance for homosexuals and severe anti-gay record have proven to be grounds for gays to seek asylum in Britain, Canada and the U.S. Gays make up a small percentage of 12,000 asylum cases won in the U.S. every year.
October is LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender] month in the U.S. To celebrate, “Sunshine Cathedral Jamaica: LGBT Blog” remembers Brian Williamson, a gay activist and J-FLAG founder, who was murdered in 2004.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Chrysaora under a Creative Commons license.