Justice for Dwayne Jones
By Cathy Kristofferson, August 29, 2013
Light panels calling for justice illuminated the street outside the Jamaican Embassy in Washington D.C. last night, as a coalition of organizations including GetEQUAL, Stop The Hate and Homophobia Coalition (Springfield, MA), The DC Center, Center Global, Spectrum Human Rights, CodePINK, and Light Brigade Maryland participated in a light panel display, protesting in conjunction with ‘Justice for Dwayne,’ vigils held in London and Boston. The events shed light on the brutal murder of Jamaican LGBT youth Dwayne Jones, calling for justice and the Jamaican Government to bring an end to its institutionalized homophobia.
On July 22nd Dwayne Jones, a 16 year old youth who had been bullied in school, kicked out of his home at 14, and who dared to show up at a party dressed in women’s clothes was outed by someone who pointed him out as ‘male’. Dwayne tried to escape but was chased, beaten, stabbed, run over and his body dumped by the side of the road. This is just one of the horrific homophobic attacks and killings that have occurred of late in Jamaica. Last week 5 gay men were trapped in their own home by an angry mob having to be rescued by police. This was the 6th anti-gay mob attack in the last month. And just yesterday another gay man was stabbed to death, his house set on fire and his car stolen.
Homosexual acts between men is illegal in Jamaica and punishable by 10 years in prison.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 2012 said that “discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression is widespread throughout Jamaica, and … discrimination against those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex … communities is entrenched in Jamaican State institutions. Those who are not heterosexual or cisgender face political and legal stigmatization, police violence, an inability to access the justice system, as well as intimidation, violence, and pressure in their homes and communities.”
These pictures show the messages displayed on light panels in D.C.:
The following statement was made during the D.C. action by Cathy Kristofferson of Stop The Hate and Homophobia Coalition:
”Jamaica has long been called ‘The Most Homophobic Place on Earth.’ The violence due to homophobia has prompted hundreds of LGBT Jamaicans to seek asylum in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States.
Currently the country is doing nothing to distance itself from that label. A challenge to the anti sodomy law, which punishes those convicted with 10 years in prison, began at the end of June. A few days before the court case began, conservative churches called for a rally in support of retaining the law. 1500 people turned out. The rally contributed to an already escalated state of homophobia. There were even reported attacks on people perceived to be gay at the churches’ rally.”
We are calling on the Jamaican authorities to fully investigate Dwayne’s murder while we call on those authorities to do more to protect the country’s LGBT community against these vicious attacks. We are calling on the international community to boycott tourism and investments in Jamaica until the hate and homophobia ends.”
Organizers of the London vigil are demanding “Jamaican authorities need to send an unequivocal message that there will be zero tolerance for violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people” and “the police thoroughly investigate Dwayne’s murder.”
The London organizers have launched a CHANGE.ORG petition demanding:
“PETITION TO SEND A STRONG MESSAGE TO THE JAMAICAN GOVERNMENT THAT THEY MUST ACT NOW TO: 1. FIND AND PROSECUTE THE MURDERERS OF DWAYNE JONES 2. REPEAL THE BUGGERY LAWS IN JAMAICA THAT MAKE HOMOSEXUAL ACTS BETWEEN CONSENTING ADULTS IN THE PRIVACY OF THEIR HOMES A CRIME.”
Also the Boston vigil remembered Martin Luther King Jr. on this 50th anniversary of the DC March week, and the latest Jamaican hate crime victim Dean Moriah, who was murdered on Tuesday in Montego Bay.