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Jamaican police claim equal danger faces gays, straights

LGBT Jamaicans and straight Jamaicans are equally at risk of violence, the Jamaican police allege.

Avatar of Alessia Valenza

9th September 2013 10:26

Alessia Valenza

"I have no specific evidence outside of those isolated ones, that [LGBT people are] a target group as opposed to the ordinary citizen," said Jamaican Assistant Police Commissioner Devon Watkis.

The "isolated" incidents that he referred to are a recent series of attacks in Jamaica that have targeted allegedly gay men and a cross-dressing youth, who was killed at a street party. Watkis did not suggest, however, that heterosexuals are targeted for their sexual orientation.

Watkis implied that LGBT people can live peacefully in Jamaica as long as they keep their sexual orientation secret. He said:
"I won’t dispute that there has been some cultural intolerance manifested in the public, but I have known individuals who have chosen that lifestyle but they have practiced their choices with responsibility and as a result they have not been subjected to any major taboo from the citizens of Jamaica."

LGBT rights activist Maurice Tomlinson left Jamaica for safety in Canada because he received receiving death threats after his marriage was publicized in his home country. Tomlinson’s decision to marry his partner apparently would not qualify as "practicing his choices with responsibility," in Watkis’s viewpoint.