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October 16, 2008
Gays seek asylum outside Jamaica

Anti-gay graffiti on a Jamaican wall.

Gays living in Jamaica face difficulty reconciling two parts of themselves—being gay and being Jamaican.

Homosexuality is illegal in Jamaica, and considered a sin by church-going Jamaicans. Pastors rail against homosexuality from the pulpit, reggae lyrics glamorize gay killings and sodomy laws make homosexuality punishable by a 10-year prison sentence of hard labor.

A video captures the story of a gay Jamaican police officer and his search for asylum in Canada.

The “Jamaica Views blog” questions whether discrimination is getting worse and suggests that the situation can only improve when churches, schools and society as a whole reform their teachings.

Last May, Jamaica’s prime minister said he would not allow homosexuals into his cabinet. Jamaicans reacted to the prime minister’s public anti-gay declaration.

According to Immigration Equality, a New York-based national organization that works to seek asylum for persecuted gays, each month brings new stories and different versions of the same crimes — murder, attacks, beatings — against gays by Jamaican citizens and police. There has also been little effort by the government to outlaw the “buggery” or sodomy laws.

Jamaica’s intolerance for homosexuals and severe anti-gay record have proven to be grounds for gays to seek asylum in Britain, Canada and the U.S. Gays make up a small percentage of 12,000 asylum cases won in the U.S. every year.

October is LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender] month in the U.S. To celebrate, “Sunshine Cathedral Jamaica: LGBT Blog” remembers Brian Williamson, a gay activist and J-FLAG founder, who was murdered in 2004.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Chrysaora under a Creative Commons license.

  • Watch all the Worldfocus In the Shadows video signature series
  • Listen to Worldfocus Radio on LGBT politics and gay asylum
  • For more information on homophobia and HIV in Jamaica, visit The Glass Closet, a multimedia project produced in partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting




[…] gay pride parade on the streets of Kingston, Jamaica, as in New York or San Francisco. In Jamaica, anti-sodomy laws criminalize sex between men, fundamentalist interpretations of the Bible and pride in reproduction […]


I go there TREASURE BEACH exactly…7 mouths
gay people exist everywere…Bad story in my souvenirs about two youths,
at southfields…it’s horrible


[…] gay pride parade on the streets of Kingston, Jamaica, as in New York or San Francisco. In Jamaica, anti-sodomy laws criminalize sex between men, fundamentalist interpretations of the bible and pride in reproduction […]


the Sunshine Cathedral blog has been renamed to

thanks again Lisa


i’m a u.s.a citizen and if gays is illegal in jamaica , that’s there rights to be as for u.s.a we don’t allow immigrate he that’s illegal so we don’t have no say, but as for killing them that should no happen. since ii not allow then american should let them come here with out no promblem.jamaica don’t pay us the u.s.a no mind


i from u.s. and i feel we should mind are business this is how they run there country no us


As a reader it breaks my heart to hear that violence and crimes occur against other human beings because of thier sexuality. What ever happened to acceptance is that not what we are ask to do? Are we ask or told by the higher power to love our neighbor as we love ourself…than we obviously do not love urselfs because look at how and what we are doing to each other.

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