Jamaican police: Gay people are no more victims of crime than ‘the ordinary citizen’

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

A Jamaican Assistant Commissioner of Police has said LGBT are no more at risk of criminal abuse than any other group in the country, despite its current upsurge of homophobic hate crimes.

Devon Watkins told Jamaica’s The Gleaner newspaper: “Our numbers generally show that we have had some violence committed against the citizens of Jamaica, inclusive of all groups.

“I have no specific evidence outside of those isolated ones, that this group is a target group as opposed to the ordinary citizen.

“I won’t dispute that there has been some cultural intolerance manifested in the public, but I have known individuals who have chosen that lifestyle but they have practiced their choices with responsibility and as a result they have not been subjected to any major taboo from the citizens of Jamaica.”

Mr Watkins comments follow a long series of anti-gay and transphobic crimes in the country.

In July, 16-year-old Dwayne Jones was stabbed multiple times and shot at a party in the Jamaican suburban parish of St James.

At least nine homophobic or transphobic killings occurred in Jamaica last year.

Elsewhere in Jamaica reggae artist Sizzla has defended fellow singer Queen Ifrica from criticism over her recent use of homophobic language.

In an exclusive interview with PinkNews.co.uk this month, S Chelvan, one of the country’s leading barristers commented on how those fleeing homophobic and transphobic persecution abroad are still being failed by the UK when it comes to providing asylum.

He referred to the example of a woman in Jamaica, who although straight, is still subjected to persecution and harassment for refusing to accept male advances.

The barrister believes there is a need to improve understanding of what it means to fear persecution because of a person’s sexual gender identity.