Gareth Henry: The Jamaican Gay Activist

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Gareth Henry is a 35 year old openly gay badminton player, gay right activist, and social worker. His birth place, Jamaica, is one of 76 countries that still criminalize same sex relationships. Gareth Henry filed for refugee status in 2008 and fled to Canada due to a death threat delivered by local police in his hometown. This death threat was following beating that Henry took at the hands of four local police officers, due to his advocacy work that he was doing for the Jamaica Forum of Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG). This attack took place in front of 200 by standers. Gareth Henry has gone through the pain of 13 friends being killed due to homophobic attacks, some of which he had to identify.

On a few occasions Henry reported the harassment and threats delivered by the local police to the local government, to no avail. There was even no response to him after he was attacked in 2007, which made national headlines. Gareth Henry is currently working to hold the government of Jamaica accountable because although he was able to make it out and find asylum in Canada, there are so many other gay individuals in Jamaica that are still suffering.

Gareth Henry volunteers with Rainbow Railroad, a non profit in Canada that helps with relocating LGBTQ individuals faces with the same violence and threats he once did. In 2016 alone, he helped relocate 60 refugees, many from his home country.

“We need to band together. We need to become more of a community trying to find creative ways to be our brother’s keeper,” Henry told Ubuntu Biography Project. Although the list of LGBTQ community members seeking asylum has increased, Henry is still working to bring that LGBTQ community together, so that they can least have each other.

In August of 2017, Jamaica had it’s 3rd annual PRIDE celebration was held and Henry could not make it due to not being allowed back in the country. He continues to encourage members of LGBTQ community to stay steadfast and continue the fight justice against discrimination and hatred.

Visit More : www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/outfront-gay-jamaican-refugee-helps-others-flee-persecution-n696551