By Julie Bolcer
Originally published on Advocate.com July 13 2012 12:27 PM ET
Former Jamaica assistant police commissioner Les Green brushed back reports of widespread homophobic violence in the country and said that gay people for the most part murdered each other in an interview just days before he left office last week.
The Jamaica Observer reports on his statements. The remarks coincided with reports from the gay rights group Jamaica Forum For Lesbians All-sexuals and Gays (JFLAG) that two men, Winston Ramsey and Jermaine Thompson, were killed in the New Kingston area last month because of their sexual orientation. JFLAG responded to the murders by urging Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller to act on behalf of homeless gay men.
“I think Jamaica is far more tolerant than the public hype,” said Green. “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 stigmatized?”
“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.
The former Scotland Yard detective said that all but one of the murders he had investigated involving gay victims could be pinned on other gay people in domestic situations. That case concerned Steve Harvey, an HIV/AIDS worker, and the motive was robbery.
Gay sex is illegal in Jamaica, and international human rights advocates have reported instances of antigay mobs receiving support from law enforcement on the Caribbean island. Asylum organizations routinely report large numbers of gay Jamaicans seeking refuge in the nearby United States.
Green suggested that gay people could curb the violence if they toned down their self-expression.
“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,” he said.
Maurice Tomlinson, a Jamaican gay rights activist, blasted the statements from Green. The police official had come from London to serve an eight-year tour of duty in the former British colony.
“The Jamaican government has said that more UK police are coming to the country,” he said, according to Gay Star News.“I sincerely hope that Green’s replacement is more familiar with basic human rights principles and has the capacity to really think for himself, instead of being sucked into the anti-gay group think of the monolithic Jamaican police force.”