The Caribbean island of Jamaica, notorious for its often anti-gay stance, is again in the news following the death of another apparently gay man. Reports from JFLAG, the Jamaican gay rights organisation, say that a man suspected of being gay was chased by a mob in a gay-hate frenzy in the capital Kingston.
In a desperate effort to escape being beaten by the crowd Nokia Cowan was allegedly forced to jump into the sea in the harbour, where he drowned. It is not known if Cowan was actually gay.
Jamaica has been slammed in the past by Human Rights Watch because of its homophobic laws, which support a culture of intolerance and homophobia against lesbians and gays. Homosexuality is illegal and punishable by up to ten years in jail and / or hard labour.
Last month, a well known gay activist, Lenford “Steve” Harvey, was murdered, as was another, Brian Williamson, in 2004, and there have been multiple reports of physical abuse of people because of their sexual orientation.
Jamaica’s dancehall and reggae music has also come under fire for its homophobic lyrics and violence-inciting comments by performers.
JFLAG has implored “the highest members of government to clearly indicate that violence based on sexual orientation, both perceived and actual, is unacceptable in Jamaica”.