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Jamaica police join attacks on homeless LGBT men

The gully where the homeless men lived.
The gully where the homeless men lived.

On Tuesday night, Oct. 15, police raided the gully in New Kingston where some homeless MSM (men who have sex with men) were living. The officers piled up the youngsters’ clothes and burned them before warning that they should not be seen in the area again.

Yesterday (Oct. 16) some of the MSM went to the New Kingston police station to make a report about the incident: they were refused. The officers claimed that the report had to be made to the police complaints department.

As I am writing this, seven of the men are at the police complaints department making their reports. They had to borrow clothes from their comrades so they would be “presentable” enough.

We are currently engaged in an appeal for clothing or food items to assist these young men. We are trying to at least restore some dignity to them.

A report on On the Ground News Reports (OG.NR) was filed about the incident, which we tried unsuccessfully to get the police to record yesterday:

“Police in New Kingston on Tuesday night conducted a crackdown of gay men who have been described as violent and unruly in the area. The men who fled as the police arrived on the scene are accused of offering services to male clients at the location and vandalism of business establishments. A number of their personal belongings were set ablaze by the lawmen in a gully where they reside.”

As usual, the homeless MSM who now live in gullies after being hounded out of every other residence are cast as villains, despite the fact that chronic homophobia contributes to these men engaging in anti-social behaviour.

OG.NR report on police crackdown on homeless LGBT men.
OG.NR report on police crackdown on homeless LGBT men.

The vulnerability of homeless Jamaican MSM is real. Those who engage in sex work are also paid a premium by their clients to ride “bareback.” The potential for the spread of HIV and other STIs is clear. But, the government is claiming it is powerless to intervene. So we cut off our nose to spite our face.

We hope to engage more authorities to arrive at a real solution to this problem. Certainly, burning the men out cannot be a solution. Last week it was a community that burned gay men out of a residence in the tourist capital Montego Bay. Now the police are joining in the campaign to rid society of the “scourge” of homeless gays.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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