Human Rights Watch Calls for Increased Police Protection for MSM, WSW in Jamaica
HIV/AIDS advocates at Human Rights Watch on Friday called on Jamaican authorities to scale up their efforts to protect men who have sex with men, as well as women who have sex with women, the AP/International Herald Tribune reports. The announcement comes after a group of about 20 people attacked several men at their home in Mandeville, Jamaica, on Jan. 29, leaving one man severely injured and another missing. "While Jamaican police have begun to reach out to gay and lesbian communities, this change hasn't reached many police stations, where protection remains an illusion," HRW HIV/AIDS advocate Rebecca Schleifer said in a statement (AP/International Herald Tribune, 2/1).
During the recent attack, a group approached the house and demanded that the four men leave the community, according to human rights advocates who spoke with the survivors. The men called the police twice before the group attacked the house. The police arrived about 90 minutes after the men first called for help and 30 minutes after the group broke into the house, according to the statement. HRW said the incident is the most recent in a series of "homophobic mob violence" in the country during the last year (HRW statement, 2/1).
Police spokesperson Camika Parker said that MSM and WSW receive the same level of police protection as the rest of the population (AP/International Herald Tribune, 2/1).
HIV-positive people and MSM are discriminated against heavily in Jamaica. Many MSM in Jamaica have been reluctant to disclose their HIV-positive status because they fear discrimination if their sexual orientation or HIV status becomes known. Some HIV/AIDS advocates in the country have been increasing HIV education in an effort to reduce the violence and discrimination (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/22/07).