A new way for gay people in the Caribbean to communicate and meet up has been launched.
Rainbowvibes.com is described by its founders as “an online hub for Caribbean gay, lesbian, bisexual individuals living at home and overseas, in addition to the many others across the globe.”
Matthew Raine, a gay Jamaican IT executive who lives in Canada and Andrea Rainford, a Jamaican lesbian marketing executive who lives on the island, created the site.
“The need was glaring and since it’s something we craved ourselves and had the know how to get it done,” explained Matthew.
“Our focus is on making the site it a fun,vibrant and meaningful destination online where our members are happy to spend time and tell their friends about it too.
“We’re expecting it to do great things.”
Matthew and Andrea said that “a good chunk of the funds generated” will be donated to Caribbean LGBT organisations.
The site has interactive similar to those on Facebook.
Members can create and join groups, add music, events, videos, chat, make friends, find dates, create and join discussions, write blogs and read news from the Caribbean and the World.
While Jamaica is notorious as for its homophobia, LGBT people face varying degrees of prejudice across the Caribbean region.
Sex between men in Jamaica is illegal, and punishable with up to ten years in jail, usually with hard labour.
Hatred for gay people is often publicly expressed by political and religious leaders in Jamaica.
Last month Prime Minister Bruce Golding told the BBC that he would not be granting gay people any rights and that he would not allow gay people to serve in his Cabinet.
“We’re going to have to determine that for ourselves and we’re going to have to determine to what extent those values will adapt over time to change; change in perception, change in understanding, as to how people live,” he said.
A World Policy Institute survey on sexual orientation and human rights in the Americas said:
“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.”