Jamaica: Amnesty International mourns death of leading gay rights activist and repeats call for action on homophobia

Amnesty International said:

“Brian Williamson was a courageous individual prepared to speak out for one of the most marginalised and persecuted communities in Jamaica: the gay and lesbian community. The loss of such a fearless champion of human rights is a tragedy. He will be sorely missed.”

The police have initially concluded that the motive for the murder was robbery due to the reported removal of a safe. Amnesty International urges the investigating authorities to keep an open mind as to the motive behind the murder.

Amnesty International continued:

“There remains a strong possibility that Brian Williamson’s profile as a gay man and advocate of homosexual rights made him a target for those with homophobic views. The taking of money or other items may have been an afterthought by the perpetrators of the killing with the primary motivation for the murder being hatred of gay people.” The human rights organisation recently issued an urgent appeal to people all over the world to write to the Jamaican Prime Minister asking him to take urgent steps to protect gay people from violence, and to repeal legislation which criminalises same sex relations.

Amnesty International has received many reports of vigilante action against gay people by members of the community, and of ill-treatment or torture by the police. Gay men and Women's rights's rightss rights's rights's rights's rights have been beaten, cut, burned, raped and shot on account of their sexuality. Once a person’s homosexuality becomes known to family or community in Jamaica, they are frequently at risk.

There is concern that musicians including Capleton, Beenie Man and TOK are actively promoting homophobia and share responsibility for violence against gay people, and that homophobia is legitimised by the law which criminalises consensual gay sex between males. Article 76 of the Jamaican Offences against the Person Act punishes the “abominable crime of buggery” by up to ten years’ imprisonment with hard labour.

Brian Williamson was a founder member of the Jamaican Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG), and one of the few individuals prepared to speak publicly about matters concerning the gay community.

Jamaica suffers from an appalling level of homophobia and J-FLAG is regularly subjected to verbal threats from members of the public.

Take action now

You can take action to protect, get justice and improve the situation of LGBT people in Jamaica.

As a first step towards changing the horrific violence and discrimination that so many LGBT people in Jamaica have to endure, Amnesty International wants laws criminalising consensual sexual conduct between adults of the same sex abolished. Other laws must be introduced and enforced to protect gay men and lesbians from abuse.

Please send postcards to the Prime Minister of Jamaica:

  • Call for a debate on the repeal of legislation criminalising consensual same sex conduct
  • Urge law reform & other steps to protect LGBT individuals from violence & discrimination
  • Urge the Prime Minister to publicly state that violence & abuse against LBGT people will not be tolerated.
  • The Right Honourable P.J. Patterson
    Prime Minister of Jamaica
    Office of the Prime Minister
    Jamaica House
    1 Devon Road
    Kingston 6

    Further information

    Amnesty International UK is publishing a new book on 1 July 2004, Sex, Love and Homophobia: LGBTI Lives. More information about the book...

    View latest press releases