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Jamaican police seize, burn donations to LGBT youths

Jamaican police seize, burn donations to LGBT youths

No place like home: LGBT youths forced to live in the sewers. (Photo courtesy of Michael Forbes)
LGBT youths forced to live in the New Kingston sewers. (Photo courtesy of Michael Forbes)

Jamaican police on Dec. 1 seized and burned food and clothing that concerned citizens had donated to LGBT youths who have been living in the sewers of New Kingston, activists say.

The youths moved into the sewers after being evicted first from their families’ homes and then from abandoned buildings.  The donations were part of an effort to help the men, with the goal of providing them with housing and basic social services.

The destruction of the donated goods occurred during a police crackdown that resulted in the arrest of eight homeless young men on robbery charges.

A human rights activist who spoke by telephone with one of the arrested youths on Dec. 1 reported the following information, provided by Rick (not his real name):

Maurice Tomlinson (Photo courtesy of
Maurice Tomlinson (Photo courtesy of

Police burned their clothes, as they had also done on a previous raid, including clothes that LGBT rights activist Maurice Tomlinson had given to them.

Police also burned canned food that was donated to them last week.

The youths only remaining possessions are what they were wearing and what they carried in their bags.

Although the Jamaica Observer reported that police recovered several items of stolen property, Rick said he saw no such goods and heard no such claim from the police.

When the group came out of the gully, on orders from police who raided the site, they were met with television cameras and reporters from television stations and from the Jamaica Star.

Police then took the youth to Half-Way Tree police station where the police photographed the youths, took their names, their parents’ names, and their parents’ addresses.

The youth were then told that the gully [also described as the sewers] was now a forbidden area, and if they were found in the gully they would be locked up.

Police told them that it was the holiday season, so more people would want to be in New Kingston, but  the presence of the youth was scaring people away.

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Police told them to go back home to their parents [who previously threw them out because of their sexual orientation].

Rick and about 10 or 11 others were on the road , and they are likely to have little choice but to return to the gully.

Concerned citizens are seeking donations to Dwayne’s House, which is the name of the shelter that they hope to provide for the homeless LGBT youths.

To contribute online, go the website of the gay-friendly Open Arms Metropolitan Community Church; indicate that your donation is for “Dwayne’s House.”

To see distinctly different responses to this news, see the comments section below. One commenter believes that the seized goods were all stolen, not donated, and expresses relief that the homeless youths will leave the gully (whether that is likely to occur or not, since the youths have essentially been told to leave everywhere they have ever stayed).

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View Comments (13)
  • The kids are human beings…Police have gays in their midst also, so they should be sympathetic towards these kids who obviously are risking their lives to live the way they were born.. If they could help it I’m sure they wd not want to live the way they’re forced to by coming out as gays in such a harsh environment as the Jamaican society. Living abroad we encounter many gay Jamaicans and they did not become gay after coming abroad so wake up Jamaica and stop condemning these people as long as they are not affecting you and your way of life. I’m talking as a non-gay Jamaican individual who feel sorry for these kids and cannot comprehend the absolutely terribly harsh and unforgiving nature of Jamaicans for their fellow human children and fellow citizens. Wake up Jamaicans and have a loving heart for your own people, no matter their orientation. Society should leave them alone, offer them refuge and somewhere humane to live and thrive and so they can become productive citizens like everyone else.

  • First of all, I must say that this article is very misleading and is lacking a lot of important information. I work in the New Kingston area, I walk pass that gully almost every evening after work. The New Kingston area is home to a lot of business places & hotels, where business people/tourist consistently occupy. These Tourist are always walking in and around the New Kingston area. These men that were asked to leave the gully were a daily nuisance to persons walking by. They have robbed numerous locals and tourist. They are always loud and boisterous, shouting nasty and disgusting bad words to people who dare to stare at them. AND the so called ‘clothes donated’ were actually clothes that were stolen. A clothing store in the area was robbed cleaned of EVERYTHING and they were the ones that were seen on the surveillance camera. This and other numerous robberies were reported. People, included myself had to be in fare to pass the gully and its surrounding areas because these men never hesitate to rob you. I am NOT against the gay society. But I am very relieved that they were asked to leave. I understand that they are homeless, but robbing and being a huge annoyance to our tourist, visitors, business places and locals is not something to sit back and ignore.

    • Its so counter productive that in society we don’t take responsibility for how people turn out…we just want them to go away and stop it….this is not higher thinking people of Jamaica.

    • Shannek i understand what you are saying about how they make the New Kingston atmosphere displeasing and uncomfortable for locals and tourist abroad. And i too believe that the area of occupancy was not conducive for any human being to live. These are boys my age. I am 21 and i am disgusted by the attitude and the display of these young men in such a commercial area.
      I wrote this reply because i heard you states “I understand that they are homeless, but robbing and being a huge annoyance to our tourist, visitors, business places and locals is not something to sit back and ignore.”
      But that’s the exact same thing many advocates are saying the Jamaican society and out old stained culture. Refuses to change and adapt. Yes you cannot sit and ignore tourist and yourself from been annoyed and robbed…But it seems Jamaican can sit and ignore a Jamaican Boy, Gay 16-20 or so, homeless, suffering and abused to the highest extent, because he is attracted to the same sex.
      The rational behind Jamaicans arguments should be considered a laughing stock. Ignorance is at the heart of your people and the heart of our country frankly and for that i try as best as possible apart from my distance myself from the Jamaican Brand.

    • So the Police burned the recovered stolen clothes instead of returning them to the store owner or saving them for evidence of theft? Either the Police were spiteful and wrong (see: HISTORY) or…. yeah. Jamaicans’ methods of ‘problem solving’ has always been super counterproductive.

  • More deceptive crisis reporting to get attention on a matter that has been around for so many years when these same opportunists were consulted they turned their backs yet it is now some activists who turned up their noses at the very group see them?

    what a convenient distraction from the tolerance ad case and the fact that it was thrown out of the supreme court revealing some issues that some do not want the scrutiny searchlight to be turned on to, case in point the amendment of the plead in the middle of the trial knowing fully well that the PBCJ in particular does not take paid ads by virtue of section 4 of the act that brought it into being and also the fact that the lawyers for all three station intend to apply for costs to be awarded to them and paid by the claimant photographed above.

    Not all of us can be fooled or diverted.

  • Maurice Tomlinson introduced a documentary film “The Abominable Crime” and gave a talk with Q and A recently in St. Louis. He says that there are LGBT homeless teens hiding in the sewers for lack of any other safe area. The clothes and food are donated so they don’t have to steal to eat. I find Tomlinson to be credible. The Pulitzer Foundation also found him credible, they funded the filmmaker’s news story and analysis of anti-gay conditions in Jamaica and the activist response. The Pulitzer Foundation funds high-quality documentaries on human rights issues that are neglected in the mainstream press. Go see the film.

  • Heads of Government state how they support and fight for human rights and equality….Explain to me then how do you separate the rights of these humans (gays) from the rest of us? Jamaica? I travel and i here foreigners make comments about out ignorance and illiteracy…..Its applauding and ridiculous.
    I dont want to be proud of part my country and dislike the rest….#SMH

  • It is quite clear that the police and other Jamaicans try so hard to demonize these children because of their own personal views towards them. Instead of putting personal views of one’s lifestyle aside and doing what is right these people lie and paint a picture of these children making it harder for people to accept them and help them yet make it easier for the others with hate in their heart to spew all types of violence and evil towards this kids. Who are the real criminals here? It’s quite obvious that it isn’t the children here. These kids are failed by their parents,siblings, neighbors and country.

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