Homophobic mob attack Jamaican gay men

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The Jamaican government is being urged to tackle mob violence against gay people in the country after an attack on a group of men alleged to be homosexual.

The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays, JFLAG, is urging the Jamaican government to action.

“This has become a blot on Jamaica’s human rights record,” said a JFLAG spokesperson.

“No modern democracy can afford to revert to jungle justice.

“We must give real meaning to the rule of law through our constituted authorities and institutions.”

The attack took place on Tuesday in the town of Mandeville.

Two men were hospitalised, one with serious injuries, while another man is still missing.

According to reports, the men were attacked in the privacy of their dwelling by an angry mob who had days before threatened them if they did not leave the community.

JFLAG is calling for the leadership of the country, beginning with elected officials, to honour their obligation by protecting citizens from violent attacks, regardless of the circumstances.

“They must extend the full arm of the law to make examples of any proven perpetrators so that mob violence can be seen as a punishable offence under the law,” said a spokesman.

“As the global village becomes smaller in real terms, Jamaicans will have to realise that targeted acts of violence which infringe human rights will only serve to further undermine our reputation in the international community.

“This extends from the basic breach on individual human rights to undermining the confidence of potential investors who seek a civil and stable environment in which to do business.

“We are cultivating an uncivil society which seems to be itching for a reason to resort to mob violence as a redress for real or perceived grievances.

“When those with whom we entrust the responsibility of leadership fail to act decisively, they betray all Jamaicans.

“Our leaders must work to create a safe environment for every Jamaican regardless of colour, gender, religious affiliation, sexual orientation or other status.”

International human rights organisations have described Jamaica as one of the most homophobic places in the world.

Gay and lesbian relationships are largely conducted in secret.

Sex between men in Jamaica is illegal, and punishable with up to ten years in jail, usually with hard labour.

In December 2003, a World Policy Institute survey on sexual orientation and human rights in the Americas concluded:

“In the Caribbean, Jamaica is by far the most dangerous place for sexual minorities, with frequent and often fatal attacks against gay men fostered by a popular culture that idolises reggae and dancehall singers whose lyrics call for burning and killing gay men.

“Draconian laws against sexual activity between members of the same sex continue to be in force not only in Jamaica, but in most of the English-speaking Caribbean.”

According to Amnesty International, the gay and lesbian community in Jamaica faces “extreme prejudice” and are “routinely victims of ill-treatment and harassment by the police, and occasionally of torture.”

Amnesty has highlighted the growing problem of vigilante action against gays and lesbians.

Political parties have ignored the issue of gay rights. Indeed, homophobia is flourishing amongst politicians and the police.

For example, opposition leader Bruce Golding vowed in 2006 that “homosexuals would find no solace in any cabinet formed by him.”

The homophobic island nation is given money by the British government.

“The Department for International Development (DFID) have an aid programme for Jamaica worth in the region of £2.5 million a year,” according to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

“In addition, the UK also waives approximately £5-6m of Jamaican debt annually.

“Major projects include assistance to the programme to reform the Jamaican police force; assistance to the private sector to enhance the competitiveness of Jamaican exports; support for the Government’s public sector reform programme and other programmes related to social development and giving disadvantaged groups of Jamaican society a stronger voice in the development of policy by the Government.”