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Gay Rights leader murdered and mutilated

in JAMAICA, 14/06/2004

Jamaican PM urged to combat homophobic violence

LONDON - "The Jamaican Prime Minister PJ Patterson must repeal the ban on homosexuality, order a police crackdown on homophobic hate-crime, ban dancehall lyrics that incite the murder of gay people, and initiate an education programme in schools to combat homophobic prejudice."

The call comes from Brett Lock, speaking on behalf of gay rights
group OutRage! in response to the latest homophobic murder in Jamaica
which has claimed the life of one of the country's leading gay
activists, Brian Williamson.

Mr Lock also called on the British Home Secretary, David Blunkett, to give "a clear public undertaking that lesbian and gay Jamaicans fleeing persecution will be eligible for refuge in Britain."

"This killing is a wake-up call to the Jamaican government and police. It's time they stopped tolerating widespread violence against lesbian and gay Jamaicans. They are allowing queer-bashers to get away with murder. Killers of gays are almost never arrested and put on trial in Jamaica," says fellow OutRage! campaigner Peter Tatchell.

OutRage! condemns the murder of Brian Williamson, a leading human rights campaigner in Jamaica and a founder of J-FLAG, the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays. Mr Williamson's mutilated body with multiple stab wounds was found at his home by a friend.

J-FLAG has been campaigning since 1998 to overturn Jamaica?s harsh sodomy laws which outlaw homosexuality, punishable by 10 years hard labour. Violence against lesbians and gays is commonplace and is given free reign by the government's refusal to tackle it. Queer-bashing is also fuelled by Jamaican popular music which glorifies the murder of gays.

OutRage! has been working very closely with J-FLAG over the past two years to draw international attention to the plight of lesbian and gay Jamaicans. Despite widespread homophobic violence, Home Secretary David Blunkett includes Jamaica on his so-called "white list" of supposedly safe countries. This has frustrated asylum appeals by lesbian and gay Jamaicans fleeing the violence and oppression.

"Because some of Mr Williamson's possessions were missing, the
Jamaican authorities are refusing to treat his murder as a hate crime" says Lock, "This is consistent with the Jamaican Government's callous disregard for the rights and safety of lesbian and gay Jamaicans."

Source OutRage! News Service
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