Complex factors fuel Jamaica's violent homophobia

Published: September 13, 2013

Dwayne Jones, 16, was the pretty girl with the lovely long legs, chiseled cheekbones and fierce dance moves all the boys at the party were vying to get next to. At first no one questioned Jones’ gender – the transgender teen in female attire finally coming out. But Jones coming out moment resulted in her death, caused by being beaten, stabbed, and run over by a transphobic mob. Jamaica has a history of assaults on its LGBTQ denizens. And in 2013 nothing has changed. Intense homophobia in Jamaica is so unchallenged people simply speculate about peoples’ sexual orientation or gender identity then plot to kill them. The intent to murder is unabashedly announced without fear because the police won’t protect Jamaica’s LGBTQ citizens from mob-led murders and violence. Those who are supposed to protect instead incite the country’s homophobic frenzy – by either being present and inactive during these assaults or by following and watching the members of the LGBTQ community. Human rights advocates around the world have spoken out against the violence. Many LGBTQ rights advocates query what fuels Jamaica’s form of homophobic violence. There are, at least, five factors: slavery, anti-sodomy edicts, anti-gay dancehall reggae performers and music, the sex tourism industry, and HIV and AIDS.

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