1:47 PM on 02/15/2011
In an unprecedented victory, 28 homosexual Jamaicans, who were persecuted due to their sexual orientation, have gained political asylum in the United States. The success of their claims reflects the degree of of persecution suffered by homosexuals in Jamaica.
Since 2007, Great Britain, the former colonial power which introduced the island's sodomy laws, has granted asylum to at least five Jamaicans on the grounds that their lives were in danger due to their sexual orientation.
The individuals were assisted by Immigration Equality, a network of pro-bono attorneys which strives to secure asylum for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders, because they were persecuted in their country as a result of their sexual orientation, gender identity or HIV-status.
The Immigration Equality spokesperson said:
"By offering them a safe haven, the United States is not only saving their lives, but benefiting from the talent, skills and service these asylees bring to our country. We are proud and honored to help them begin life anew here in their adopted homeland."
The organization is reported to have 97 additional cases filed in 2010 and several filed previously that are awaiting review.
Renowned largely for its music, culture and reputation as one of the most-favored Caribbean travel destinations, the island is also infamous for its intolerance and unbridled violence against homosexuals. Homosexuality, known throughout the Caribbean as "buggering," remains a criminal offense in Jamaica and is punishable by up to 10 years in jail.