Jamaican Judge Rules Homeless LGBT Youth Can Live In Sewers
The sewers are apparently the only "refuge" for LGBT youth in Jamaica after they've been thrown out of their homes and abused and chased out of homeless shelters.
While police have actively tried to burn youth out of the sewers, a New Kingston court judge has ruled that because the sewers and gullies are public spaces, the youth have a right to be there.
Heaven forbid they have the right to a safe home.
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.
The youths' best current resource appears to be Dwayne's House, a Jamaican organization created to feed and clothe the youth in the sewers. Dwayne's House managed to pay some of the small fines for the arrested youth. In the event that you'd like to help, head to the Dwayne's House website.
(H/T: The Gaily Grind)