Jamaican police have been forced to rescue a gay man, after he was besieged by a homophobic mob for wearing lipstick.

The incident occurred on Saturday evening, when the man took refuge inside a clothes shop in May Pen, Clarendon.

Television Jamaica reports that the crowd built up following rumours of a “homosexual man putting on lipstick in public”, with several hundred people gathering outside the store.

Armed police guarded the entrance of the store before leading the man – with his face covered – away from the scene in the back of a police car.

The Jamaican criminal code prohibits sex between men and sentences for buggery can include 10 years imprisonment with hard labour, and police have been accused of harassing gay men in the past..

It is not known if the man himself faced charges following the incident.

Last month, gay rights campaigner Kenrick Stephenson was murdered outside his home in Montego Bay.

Also last month, former Prime Minister PJ Patterson called for greater acceptance of gay Jamaicans.

He said: “It’s an issue, I know, where people have very strong positions, but we have to find a way of moving away from polarised positions into one that accepts that differences of race or colour, differences of class, [and] differences even in terms of sexual preferences may have to be addressed in conformity with the prevailing global environment in which we live.

“Those who wish to have changes must accept the right of persons to speak freely, reflecting their convictions and they can’t expect to have all the say going one way, they must expect others to have contending positions.”