Homophobic violence at Jamaica funeral
A funeral service in the Carribean island of Jamaica has been disrupted by a mob attempting to attack a group of mourners.
The Easter Sunday funeral of Kirk Wayne Lester, a Jamaican businessman, was attended by “gay cross-dressers,” reports Real Jamaica Radio.
A mob surrounded the church and attacked people thought to be gay with knives, stones and bottles.
Missiles where thrown through the windows.
The island’s gay rights movement, the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All Sexuals and Gays (J-Flag), is forced to operate underground and anonymously.
It called on police to find the people who attacked the church in Mandeville.
Pressure group Jamaicans for Justice agreed that a urgent police investigation is needed.
JFJ said it is deeply disturbed by yet another incident involving mob violence against gay people latest incident is particularly daring because it occurred during a church service.
In February three gay men were stoned by a huge mob in a homophobic attack in Jamaica.
Police came to rescue the men from a pharmacy in Saint Andrew Parish, where they had been hiding for almost an hour.
An angry crowd had gathered outside the pharmacy, hurling insults and threatening to kill the men.
When the police arrived, the mob demanded the men be handed over to them.
The police tried to escort the men to their car, but the crowd began to throw stones at the objects of their hate, hitting one of them on the head.
Finally, officers were forced to disperse the crowd with tear gas. According to the Jamaica Observer, as many as 2000 people were involved in the attack.
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 said that:
“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.
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“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 – Wednesday was just one example of this.
In 2004, the organisation revealed that “gay men and lesbian women have been beaten, cut, burned, raped and shot on account of their sexuality,” and that they are one of the “most marginalised and persecuted communities in Jamaica.”
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 last year that “homosexuals would find no solace in any cabinet formed by him.”