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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 26, 2013 - Volume 41 Issue 30
Murder in Jamaica - Gender-nonconforming teen's body found chopped, stabbed
Section One
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Murder in Jamaica - Gender-nonconforming teen's body found chopped, stabbed

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Jamaica has once again earned the title given it by Time magazine - 'the most homophobic place on earth.'

At 5 a.m. on July 22, police discovered the body of 17-year-old Dwayne Jones in bushes along Orange Main Road in St. James, Jamaica.

According to Kingston radio station Irie FM, Jones attended what was described as a 'river party' the night before. The teen was presenting as female and was dancing with a man.

Jones reportedly was recognized by another partygoer, who revealed Jones' assigned male gender.

'It's understood that one of the men at the party held on to the teen, searched him, and discovered that he was, in fact, male,' the station reported on its website.

'Some of the patrons reportedly set upon the teen, and chopped and stabbed him to death.'

OFFICIAL INDIFFERENCE
Jamaican police promised only to increase patrols in the neighborhood where Jones was murdered, leading the Jamaican LGBT advocacy group J-FLAG (the Jamaica Forum of Lesbians, All-Sexuals, and Gays) to express dissatisfaction with the impotent response.

'We send our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the teenager who was slain,' the group said in a statement. 'We call for a thorough investigation into the murder of the teenager in Montego Bay and hope that the family and loved ones of the slain teen will find the justice they deserve.'

Maurice Tomlinson, an LGBT and HIV activist who fled Jamaica in 2012, told the Washington Blade that anti-Gay hate crimes have resulted in nine deaths this year alone. This is a '400 percent increase in the number of reported attacks against LGBT Jamaicans since 2009,' Tomlinson said.

'The Jamaican religious right keeps claiming all attacks are Gay-on-Gay violence. They even have the police say this is foolishness,' Tomlinson said. 'The Jamaican government refuses to show leadership on the issue of human rights of LGBT people.'

The U.S. State Department, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch have all criticized the Jamaican government for not doing enough to curb anti-LGBT violence in the country.

STIFF PENALTIES
Currently, sex acts between people of the same sex are illegal in Jamaica, and carry up to a 10-year prison sentence.

When Portia Simpson-Miller became Jamaican prime minister in 2012, she promised to repeal the anti-Gay law, but under pressure from religious groups she later backed down.

On February 7, Gay rights activist Javed Jaghai and the AIDS advocacy organization AIDS Free World filed suit in Jamaica's Supreme Court to overturn the law. In his filing, Jaghai charged that his landlord evicted him because of his sexual orientation. The suit is still pending.

'It is a reminder that there is much more work to be done to achieve equality for gay Jamaicans,' Jaghai said about his case.

'We can sit patiently while our humanity is denied and wait for the paradigm to shift in a generation or two, or we can aggressively agitate for change now. I choose to do the latter.'

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