June is International Gay Pride month and June 18, 2010 marks the sixth (6th) anniversary of the mob slaying in Montego Bay of 26 year old Victor Jarrett on the mere suspicion of being gay. Victor was sitting with some friends on Dump-up beach when two police officers approached, accused him of being gay and watching men on the beach, started hurling insults at him and ordering him to leave the public beach. A mob soon formed and Victor was chased from the beach into his community in Canterbery St. James where he was bludgeoned to death.
To commemorate this tragic event, the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) organized a memorial on Dump-up beach under the theme ‘Never Again’ to draw attention to hate crimes which continue to be perpetuated against Jamaican gays. While police instigated attacks against Jamaica’s gay community have declined in recent times, there is insufficient prosecution of crimes committed by private citizens.
Jason McFarlane, Programme Manager at J-FLAG stated ‘We are here to honour Victor’s memory, calling to the mind the many brothers and sisters who have suffered at the hands of Jamaica’s intolerance towards gays. It is sad that in 2010 this is still happening. Maurice Tomlinson of AIDS Free World stated “We are proud to stand with this group to call for an end to the intolerance and abuse of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community which is driving them underground and severely undermining the national fight against HIV.”
Despite Jamaica signing onto three Organization of American States (OAS) Resolutions condemning violence against citizens because of their sexual orientation and gender identity, the country continues to record numerous human rights abuses of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender citizens. Between 2009 and 2010, J-FLAG received reports of some 16 cases of persons who suffered some form of discrimination and abuse including but not limited to being ejected from their homes, Lesbians being raped to ‘make them straight.’ and men being stabbed.
A wreath of 26 red roses representing Victor’s age and 6 yellow representing the years since his death lay on a rainbow flag symbolizing the reason for his murder. Participants shared memories of Victor being a mild-mannered, warm, caring, fun-loving friend. At the end of the 20 minute memorial participants ripped the petals off the roses and scattered them in the sea representing the waste of a beautiful life.