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St. Lucia Sorry to Gay Tourists

St. Lucia Sorry to Gay Tourists

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The tourism minister of St. Lucia apologized Monday to the three American tourists brutalized this month in an antigay attack and said that the southern Caribbean island is safe for gay visitors.

According to the Associated Press, "Tourism Minister Allen Chastanet issued an apology Monday to three men from Atlanta after masked bandits broke into their mountain rental home in Soufriere. One victim said the gunmen made slurs against gays, white people and Americans during the March 2 assault."

According to the victims' account, Michael Baker and his boyfriend Nick Smith were in the shower in the evening when they heard their friend Todd Wiggins scream in another part of the house. Baker emerged to find masked men beating Wiggins, and he and Smith eventually were tied up and beaten, too. The men hiked down a mountain barefoot to escape after their attackers left.

St. Lucia police said Monday that two suspects have been arrested and three more are sought. However, in an e-mail to the AP the same day, Baker said he was not notified of any arrests. The men also differ from authorities in their accounts of what items were stolen during the attack, and who was treated at the hospital.

Wiggins said he was frustrated with the portrayal of the attack, according to the AP.

"I feel that the gay media rushed to declare this a hate crime and the St. Lucian police and government officials rushed to dismiss the possibility that any part of the incident was a hate crime," he said in an e-mail.

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