Jamaica is marketed as a vacation paradise, but for gay people, the danger can be shocking.
Gareth Henry, a Jamaican gay activist, has had 13 of his friends murdered by lynch mobs in the past four years, and has now fled to Canada to seek refugee status.
Sadly, Canada has an atrocious track record of protecting endangered gay refugees. Alvaro Orozco was ordered to be deported to Nicaragua in October because his adjudicator didn’t believe he was gay. Leonardo Zuniga, a Mexican claimant, also had his refugee plea rejected last summer despite the threat of anti-gay violence in his home country. With Jamaica’s popular image as an easy-going tourist spot, Gareth Henry might not have better luck.
Jamaica’s perception needs to be challenged; the country’s most popular musicians habitually call for the murder of gay people, and the public acts accordingly. Montreal Simon regularly reports on Jamaica’s horror stories (I’m borrowing his recurring zombie island motif), but very little attention is paid by the mainstream media—and Jamaican police are often mob members themselves.
I wish Gareth the best of luck with his claim and hope his stories will gain the attention they deserve. If governments become aware enough of the issue to put out traveler warnings, Jamaica may finally be forced to stop the madness.