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8 arrests, not help, for homeless Jamaican LGBTs

Homeless LGBT youths sleeping in Jamaican sewers. (Photo courtesy of Micheal Forbes)
Homeless LGBT youths sleeping in Jamaican sewers. (Photo courtesy of Micheal Forbes)

Police in New Kingston, Jamaica, arrested eight homeless men on robbery charges  Dec. 1, even as concerned Jamaican citizens and activists work to help LGBT men forced to live in the sewers.

Some activists expressed doubt that police were targeting the right people. Others saw criminal behavior as a predictable outcome of unrelenting homophobic harassment that the men have endured. Many criticized newspaper coverage of the arrests.

What should be done?

One Jamaican activist wrote:

More Anti-Gay Reporting by the Sandals Resorts-Owned Jamaica Observer

Once again the homophobic Jamaican tabloid, the Jamaica Observer, which is owned by Gordon “Butch” Stewart of Sandals Resorts, seeks to demonize and vilify all gays through an inflammatory headline. Exactly why is the sexual orientation of these young men relevant? Are we going to start seeing headlines “heterosexual man murders his girlfriend?” Or ” straight pastor rapes female congregant?”

Some Jamaican gays were kicked out of their homes as young as 12 years old because of the country’s crushing homophobia. Some of them now engage in anti-social behaviour to survive. Should we as a society be surprised that some of these youngsters choose to steal from a society that so blatantly rejected them?

This is the Jamaica Observer’s story about the arrests:

8 homosexuals in custody for robbery

KINGSTON, Jamaica — Eight homosexual men believed to be involved in a series of robberies in the New Kingston area were taken into custody at the Half Way Tree Police Station Sunday [Dec. 1].

Police say the one-hour joint operation conducted by the New Kingston Police Post, the St Andrew Central Division and Delta Special Operations started at 12:00 pm on Antigua and Trafalgar Roads and culminated on Dumfries and Ruthven Roads.

The lawmen say they accosted and searched the men who reside in a close by gully and recovered several items of stolen property.

The police also listed five other men believed to be involved in the spate of robberies as ‘Persons-of-Interest’. The men, only known by their aliases, are ‘Marlene Malaboo-Forte’, ‘Michelle’, ‘Pebbles’, ‘Goodas’ and ‘Bat Man’.

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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