Already viewed by the world as the most homophobic place in the hemisphere, LGBT Jamaicans have taken to seeking asylum in countries where their lives are not in danger .
The Washington Post has an excellent piece by Shankar Vedantam on the experiences of one such person – Andrae Bent. His experiences are, I am sure, a daily reality for many others in Jamaica. The article also notes that the Jamaican government continues to tell the world that they are a caring society in an effort to keep those tourist dollars flowing while the reality belies their PR message.
“From the time he was in grade school in his native Jamaica, Andrae Bent was the target of taunts and attacks.
A classmate once stabbed him near his eye with a pencil for being effeminate. Another time, a man pulled a knife on him and asked if he was “one of them,” Bent said, meaning homosexual. Fearing for his life, Bent denied his homosexuality.
“I was called faggot, gay, batty man, chichi man,” he said. “This would be from classmates, from people on the streets when I was walking home. Wherever I went in Jamaica, it was a nightmare.”
Five months ago, Bent, now 24, won asylum in the United States on the grounds that he had credible fear of persecution as a gay man if he were to go back to Jamaica. He joined what has become a small wave of gay Jamaicans fleeing homophobia in the Caribbean nation.
Despite its image as a laid-back island paradise for American tourists, Jamaica still criminalizes sodomy and has long been regarded by human rights activists as virulently anti-gay…
Read the rest in the Washington Post here.