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Jamaica youth minister to develop plans for LGBT homeless youth

The Jamaican Minister of Youth and Culture the Hon. Lisa Hanna announced on April 15 that the Youth Ministry is in the process of developing new services, initiatives and programmes to address the needs of Jamaica’s children and youth. These groups include youth with sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) issues.

Avatar of Alessia Valenza

22nd April 2014 20:13

Alessia Valenza

The announcement appeared Wednesday, April 16, on the Facebook page of the Jamaican Ministry of Youth and Culture. Regrettably there was no reference to any timeline for the implementation of these plans to help Jamaica’s very vulnerable LGBT youth. I hope this is not just another political platitude, like the Jamaican P.M.’s 2011 campaign promise to call for a Parliamentary review of the anti-sodomy law. On April 3, the PM stated that this review would not happen any time soon as it did not affect “the majority of Jamaicans who are poor.

I suspect the April 15 meeting called by the Youth Minister and the subsequent announcement were the result of the work being done by Dwayne’s House to bring local and international attention to the barbaric conditions under which Jamaican homeless LGBT youth are forced to live. Some of these youngsters were kicked out as young as 10 years old and are now living in the sewers of the capital city, Kingston, where they sell sex to survive.

The Chair of Dwayne’s House, Yvonne McCalla-Sobers, gave a presentation to the Minister and others at Tuesday’s meeting and provided an update on what Dwayne’s House is doing to assist the homeless LGBT youth. These interventions include providing food and clothing as well as, arranging for basic medical care and coordinating legal assistance (e.g., finding legal aid lawyers, paying some small fines and posting bail).