According to a recent study on the developmental cost of homophobia in the Caribbean island, three out of four LGBTI Jamaicans want to flee their country to escape persecution.
74.4% of LGBTI Jamaicans have considered migrating abroad, and of those surveyed, 75.9% felt that discrimination against the LGBTI community was a ‘very serious’ problem in Jamaica – particularly against gay men.
It was also reported that 71% of gay men experienced some form of harassment or discrimination in the last 12 months, compared to 59% of lesbians, 35% of bisexuals and 29% of transgender people.
However, sadly the majority of respondents (51.3%) did not report their last incidence of physical or sexual assault to the police.
41% did not report it because they did not think the police would do anything, while 30% thought the matter was too minor. One in four feared a homophobic reaction from the police, and one in five felt too embarrassed and did not want anyone to know.
The study’s lead author, MV Lee Badgett of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, wrote
The results of this study suggest that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in Jamaica face violence, stigma, and discrimination, which hold those individuals back – and hold back Jamaica’s economy.
Fear of violence and discrimination are preventing LGBT people in Jamaica from full participation in society and the economy, and this fear encourages behaviors which are detrimental to the affected persons’ wellbeing.”
Consensual sex between men is a crime in Jamaica punishable by up to 10 years imprisonment and hard labour under a colonial-era law, which is supported by 77% of the population.