A day before former Assistant Commissioner of Police Les Green left the island at the end of his eight years of service, he rubbished a common claim by the gay community and international rights groups that homosexuals in Jamaica are victims of wanton murder, mob-mauling and marginalisation.
His pronouncement came just weeks after gay lobby group Jamaica Forum For Lesbians All-sexuals and Gays (JFLAG) suggested that two men killed in the New Kingston area were slain because of their sexual preference.
In an interview on Thursday with the Sunday Observer, Green said despite claims by JFLAG that Jamaicans are intolerant of their lifestyle, and are targeting them for death, his experience during his tenure here was totally different.
JFLAG has, for years, contended that gay people have been marginalised in Jamaica, but Green said while that may have been the case in the past, the country has come a long way in tolerating the homosexual lifestyle.
“I think Jamaica is far more tolerant than the public hype. There is a vibrant community in Jamaica and there isn’t the sort of backlash that some people say. I think we are much more tolerant and accepting. Just go around and you will see they are more flamboyant in the way they dress and behave as if they are comfortable with it. If that’s the case, why are they stigmatised?” Green said.
“It’s just the hype from some who claim Jamaica is very anti-homosexual, but the reality is far from that. There are many homosexuals who live and work freely in Jamaica,” he said.
Green explained that as a homicide investigator he worked closely with the gay lobby group which referred him to several incidents in which members of their community were murdered.
However, the former Scotland Yard detective said his findings show that the majority of gay killings are carried out by members of the gay community.
“All of those murders that I have investigated have been in relationships and are victims of gay attacks, domestic situations,” he said.
On June 13, the badly mutilated bodies of Winston Ramsey and Jermaine Thompson were found in an open lot on Trafalgar Road. Since the gruesome find, homicide investigators have reported that the killings had all the signs of a gay-on-gay crime. However, days after the killing JFLAG, in a release to the media, used the murders as a launching pad to call on Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller to look into the plight of homeless gay men.
“Among the most recent attacks against the gay community was the savage killing of two young men. The men were apparently brutally murdered with blunt instruments in the vicinity of the intersection of Trafalgar Road and Lady Musgrave Road. People who are homeless frequent this area. Among them are young gay men who have been made homeless because of the continued intolerance of homosexuality in Jamaica... We call on the prime minister and the ministers of national security and labour and social security to listen to the cries and needs of members of our community who continue to be subjected to discrimination and violence, have nowhere to live and no food to eat because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,” the JFLAG release read in part.
However, Green flatly rejected that line of reasoning and said of all the murders of gay men that he has investigated only one was not committed by a member of the gay community. “That was Steve Harvey and that case was a robbery,” Green said.
Harvey was a Jamaica AIDS Support employee who was abducted from his Duhaney Drive, Kingston 20 home by gunmen and later found dead on Pinewood Terrace. Harvey’s ATM card and other items were taken. His vehicle was found parked at a football field in Grants Pen, St Andrew.
In 2002, the body of selfstyled psychic and television show host, Safa Santura, was found badly bruised and slashed at Cavaliers in St Andrew. Police say he was also murdered by his jealous lover who was later sentenced to life in prison.
Two years later, gay rights activist Brian Williamson was chopped and stabbed multiple times with the murderer leaving his remains inside his house at Haughton Avenue in St Andrew. At the time police reported that Williamson’s home was a hangout spot for gays. His killer, Dwight Hayden, was also sentenced to life.
In December 2006, the decomposing body of Wayne Pinnock was found in an upscale apartment owned by late Trade Ambassador Peter King. His nude body had eight stab wounds and his throat was slashed.
A member of the gay community who was present at the murder scene admitted to the Observer that Pinnock was gay and was in fact killed by his male lover.
King was himself the victim of a gay-on-gay murder. His nude, mutilated body was found in a pool of blood in his bedroom at Waterloo Road, Kingston 10. His killer, Sheldon Pusey, was sentenced to 15 years for manslaughter.
At the time of his sentencing, his attorney pleaded with the judge that his client stood a great chance of being sodomised due to “rampant homosexuality” in Jamaica’s prisons.
At least one foreign national has also fallen victim to the vicious blades of a gay killer.
Former British diplomat John Terry was found strangled at his home in Mount Carey, St James in September 2009. His body was wrapped in a sheet. Police reported at the time that a hand-written note was found in the house which suggested the reason why Terry was slaughtered.
Green, who at the time was the head of Serious and Organised Crime, was forced to refute claims by the British media that Terry’s death was a hate crime.
“I don’t think it is a homophobic attack, although it’s been run in the UK press. It isn’t consistent with the information that we have. It is unlikely,” Green said at the time.
A security guard was arrested, charged and convicted of Terry’s murder.
While Jamaicans are becoming more tolerant of the gay lifestyle, most are not willing to allow public displays of affection or cross-dressing as obtains in Europe and North America.
In February 2007, three cross-dressing men were saved by the police from an angry mob outside a pharmacy in a St Andrew plaza. A similar incident occurred a few weeks later in downtown Kingston.
“I am not into gay-bashing, but the problem is cross-dressing and going downtown. Do they do that to create a media blitz? That just seems too contrived,” Green said.