|Sewer in Jamaica|
By most accounts, some 40% of homeless youths in America are LGBT and are homeless in many cases because their "godly" parents threw them out for being gay. The problem of homeless LGBT youth is hardly unique to America - especially because of the efforts of American Christofascists to export anti-gay hatred and discrimination overseas. Uganda and Nigeria are but two examples. But closer to home Jamaica has a similar track record and homeless LGBT youth in that country are often living in desperate situations. Even living in sewers. But even that was too good for them in the eyes of Jamaican police who sought to evict homeless youth from the sewers. Thankfully, a judge ruled that the youths could remain. Here are highlights from Erasing 76 Crimes:
A New Kingston court ruling is the latest news for LGBT youths in Jamaica, who have been thrown out of their homes by their families, chased out of abandoned houses by police, and arrested when they found shelter in sewers and gullies. This account is from activist Yvonne McCalla-Sobers, who is chair of Dwayne’s House, the initiative seeking to provide a home for the LGBT youths.
Jamaican police tried again last week to evict homeless LGBT youth from the sewers in New Kingston where they have been forced to take refuge.
The police have previously tried to burn the youth out of the gullies on the pretext that they attract criminals.
The latest incident took the form of a day-time raid on March 5, Ash Wednesday (ironically, a religious holiday marking the beginning of the Christian sacrificial season of Lent). Officers from the New Kingston police post swooped down on the gutters running beneath the commercial district and demanded that the several youth who lived there had to leave immediately. The youngsters were understandably upset and some put up quite a struggle as they literally have nowhere else to go.
Police had already chased them from every abandoned building they previously occupied and the buildings were then torn down.
The kids are afraid of going to the few government shelters because of the abuse they experience there.
Some of the youth were arrested for resisting their forcible eviction. They were also charged with using swear words (which is still an offense under Jamaican law).
When the youngsters were brought before the court on Friday, March 7, the judge fined them for their so-called “calumnious language” but also advised the police that the sewers are a public space. Hence the youngsters have every right to be there. With no other options, the kids have simply returned to living in the sewers.
Dwayne’s House, a Jamaican organization established to feed and clothe the youngsters living in the sewers, paid the small fines for some of the arrested youth. See the Web page of Dwayne’s House for more information or to contribute (in the United States or in Canada).
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