Despite calls for tolerance by Jamaica’s religious, political and human-rights leaders, as well as outright denials by others, attacks against Jamaica’s gay community still continue.
The latest such attack occurred at about noon on Tuesday, August 17. On that occasion, a young man was walking along Lady Musgrave Road in St Andrew, when he noticed three males and a female leave the construction site where they were working and started following him. Instinctively, (as this was not the first time his dress and mannerism had got him unwanted attention) he went into a nearby grocery store and used his cellphone to call the police.
Two of the men and the woman came into the shop and pretended to be buying things and then the woman loudly enquired of the young man if he was a man or woman.
He didn’t answer. The woman went outside and returned with five more men demanding that the young man leave the store. The young man remembers talking with the woman and then falling to the ground.
He woke up covered in blood from a gash in his head.
The police eventually came and took him to the hospital where he received stitches to his head. The police took his statement and advised him that if he saw his attackers again he was to contact them. Fat chance of that happening. This young man is so traumatised that he will, no doubt, steer clear of that area from now on. But that is exactly what his attackers wanted.
How long will it be before Jamaicans understand that the tolerance spoken of in our motto, ‘Out of Many One People’, doesn’t have to mean acceptance, but it does mean respecting the rights of others, including their right to dress how they want, which harms no one?
I am, etc.,