Human Rights Watch: Growing number of LGBT homeless in Jamaica due to discrimination

Last Updated on Thursday, 23 October 2014, 21:52 by GxMedia

San Juan, Oct 22 (EFE).- Family and community discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Jamaica has boosted the number of LGBT people living on the streets, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch.

In its report “Not Safe at Home,” uploaded Tuesday to HRW’s Web site, the human rights organization warns that LGBT people are often driven “from their homes and communities.”

Furthermore, “landlords refuse to rent” to members of this community and deny them housing, forcing many on to the streets, HRW says.

The most vulnerable victims are children and young adults who have been rejected by their families and live on the streets, “where they face violence and harassment from the police and the public,” according to the study.

To prepare this comprehensive report, HRW conducted 71 interviews of LGBT people between April and June 2013.

Fifty-six said they were victims of some type of violence based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. Nineteen people reported the crimes, but police only took formal statements in only eight cases.

Meanwhile, the other 37 did not report the cases “due to fear of retaliation from the perpetrators or because reporting a homophobic or transphobic hate crime would ‘out’ them to broader society.”

The Jamaican LGBT rights organization J-FLAG reported 231 attacks against LGBT people between 2009 and 2012 and says 53 LGBT people also were driven from their homes and forced to live on the street.

J-FLAG says government programs primarily assist homeless people dealing with mental illness, drug addiction or HIV-AIDS, but that no specific program addresses the needs of the LGBT homeless.

Due to the attacks and discrimination suffered by the LGBT community on the Caribbean island, HRW called on the Jamaican government to “consistently condemn violence and discrimination” and also “strike down all discriminatory laws and replace them with laws that protect Jamaicans from discrimination on the grounds of gender identity and sexual orientation.”