Jamaica: Ignore or respond to murder of gay teen?

Dwayne Jones, also known as "Gully Queen." (Photo courtesy of Minority-Insight)
Dwayne Jones, also known as “Gully Queen.” (Photo courtesy of Minority-Insight)

Jamaicans are trying to come to grips with what conclusions to draw from the vicious murder of a cross-dressing gay 17-year-old.

Or at least some Jamaicans are. Many are simply unaware of what happened, because Jamaican newspapers were slow to report true nature of the crime. The Jamaica Gleaner’s first account of the crime omitted the fact that Dwayne Jones, 17, was attacked after a woman complained that Jones was wearing female attire but was not a woman.

The Jamaican government has not spoken out about the crime, a silence that Jamaican LGBT activist Maurice Tomlinson contrasted with the response from the government in Haiti to two murders there on July 17:

“Two gay Haitians were rumored to have been attacked during a religious anti-gay march. Their government condemned the blatant homophobia and promised to protect the gay community. A 17-year-old gay Jamaican is brutally slaughtered and our government is silent. For shame!”

The Jamaican blog Minority-Insight said:

“The lack of respect and protection for the life of gays living in Jamaica demonstrates a systematic and cultural prejudice and hatred for homosexuals and the air they breathe.”

Dwayne Jones, also known as "Gully Queen." (Photo courtesy of Minority-Insight)
Dwayne Jones, also known as “Gully Queen.” (Photo courtesy of Minority-Insight)

The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) said it was “appealing to Jamaicans to be more respectful of persons who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) and encourages all persons to stand up for justice.”

In a statement, the women’s human rights group Quality of Citizenship Jamaica joined with J-FLAG in calling for constructive dialogue between traditional religious leaders, politicians, the LGBTI community, and others:

“Jamaica is a melting pot of diversity; however in order for us to live harmoniously, we must strive to achieve respect and tolerance for all persons. … Quality of Citizenship Jamaica calls upon the Government of Jamaica, churches and other stakeholders to engage in dialogue with the local LGBTI organisations including but not limited to QCJ and other LGBTI individuals in order for us to find a common ground …”

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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