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  • Nic F. Anderson

New Podcast Raises Awareness About Safe Houses for LGBTQ+ Jamaicans

A new podcast, Ring the Alarm, highlights the human rights abuses happening in Jamaica and the secret network of safe houses keeping LGBTQ+ Jamaicans safe.

The host of Ring the Alarm is Jasmyne Cannick, a prominent and award-winning journalist. She covers race issues and politics and is an advocate for underrepresented and marginalized communities.

“I have always used my platform to elevate Black stories and issues I felt were being ignored, and Ring the Alarm is no different,” Cannick told the Advocate in an interview. “When I was asked to come to Jamaica to speak to the LGBTQ+ community and share their stories, I immediately said yes. I said yes because American’s have had so much to say about the plight of queer people in places like Iran and Afghanistan but for decades have ignored the murders of lesbian women, gay men, and trans men and women in Jamaica ... well, not anymore.”

Homosexuality is criminalized in Jamaica and dates back to te 1863 Offenses Against the Person Act, legislation that can imprison someone for up to 10 years and face intense labor. The Offenses Against the Person Act typically targets gay men though transgender women are also disproportionally affected.

LGBTQ+ Jamaicans are denied access to basic rights which ends up “resulting in alarming rates of homelessness and HIV,” according to Human Rights First. Between 2009 and 2012, the Jamaian Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals, and Gays (J-FLAG) reported 231 incidents of discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

In 2011, Jamaica’s Parliament approved the Charter of Fundamenal Rights and Freedoms but left out sexual orientation and gender identity. Activists in and out of Jamaica have called for the country’s parliament to include broader nondiscrimination language to protect more marginalized groups beyond the LGBTQ+ community, for example, protection for people with health problems and individuals with physical and mental disabilities.

Cannick is raising money for the safe houses because these houses keep LGBTQ+ Jamaicans safe and help them escape the country before being murdered.

“Americans love vacationing in Jamaica, but just beyond the carefully curated tourism corridor, people are being murdered for being queer. We can’t be OK with that. We can’t keep ignoring that,” Cannick told the Advocate.

The first of eight episodes is available on Apple Podcasts, Amazon, Spotify and other podcast streaming platforms.

For more information on the human rights violations against LGBTQ+ people living in Jamaica, please see the following:

Violence and Discrimination Against LGBT People in Jamaica by the Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Body Calls for Repeal of Jamaica’s Anti-LGBT Laws by the Human Rights Watch

LGBT Rights in Jamaica by Equaldex

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