Bahamas police accused of harassing gay tourists

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

A gay cruise-ship operator is demanding a public apology from the Royal Bahamas Police after they raided a party for LGBT tourists.

DaJuan Xavier, Executive Director of Ebony Pyramid Entertainment, called the incident, which happened on Saturday October 6th at the Hard Rock Café in Nassau, an attempt “to harass, intimidate, and frighten.”

According to the Nassau Guardian, Mr Xavier reported the incident to the US embassy and is now preparing to make his request to police.

He will also seek assurances from the Ministry of Tourism that it will not happen again.

“This could not have been a routine patrol with a few police officers investigating a random situation,” said Mr Xavier.

“This was a full drawn out ‘raid.’ Someone, along with the local police targeted us.

“I want some official answers to my questions. I think an apology from the Commissioner of the Police is also in order.”

It was the eighth time Ebony Pyramid Entertainment had visited the island and there were 250 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender tourists at the party, as well as around 200 locals.

Police and immigration officials say they were called by an employee of Hard Rock who falsely reported naked men being present.

They arrived at 1am in riot gear with video cameras and closed the party down.

Although organisers presented their licence to hold a private party, police said a female entertainer dancing in a flesh-coloured bikini did not have a necessary work permit.

Organisers claim police failed to identify themselves, intimidated guests by threatening to arrest them, refused to let the female performer put her clothes and called her a “whore” and “prostitute.”

Mr Xavier added he had visited the port’s Immigration and Customs office an hour before the event to ask about any necessary “Short Term Work Permit” but was told nobody was available to answer his questions.

Two other gay venues, Genesis and Casbar club, were also closed down by police at around 2am on the same night.

But Mr Xavier insisted that the incident was not reflective of the reception that gay tourist usually got when visiting the Bahamas.

He said: “In my years of visits to The Bahamas, cruising, resorting, and relaxing with friends, I have come to know nothing but pride and love in The Bahamas people, not the hate displayed by this group of misguided policemen.”

Tourism Director General Vernice Walkine has written to Mr Xavier about the incident.

“At this time, our understanding is that the police were responding to a request from the venue.

“Our police are obligated to investigate such calls to ensure that public gathering places remain safe and orderly for citizens and visitors.

“We are awaiting the police force’s official statement on the matter, but do however, wish to assure you that the Ministry of Tourism and Aviation does not condone discrimination in any form.

“We can say that our goal, for every one of the five million people who visit The Bahamas each year is that their visit with us comfortable enjoyable and safe.

“Please accept our regrets,” the letter read, as quoted in the Nassau Guardian.