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Anti-Gay Violence Claims Another Life In Jamaica
by Newscenter Staff

Posted: January 4, 2006 - 3:00 pm ET

(Kingston, Jamaica) A young Jamaican man plunged to his death off a pier in Kingston after reportedly being chased through the streets by a mob yelling homophobic epithets.

In a desperate attempt to flee his tormentors Nokia Cowan leaped from the pier into Kingston harbor. Unable to swim he died in the rancid water.

Whether Cowan actually was gay or not is known, but he became the third man to recently die as a result of homophobia in Jamaica.

JFLAG, the country's gay rights organization Wednesday called for a police investigation into the events that led to his drowning.

"Most importantly, we implore the highest members of government to clearly indicate that violence based on sexual orientation, both perceived and actual, is unacceptable in Jamaica," JFLAG said in a statement.

Last month, Lenford "Steve" Harvey who ran Jamaica AIDS Support for Life was shot to death on the eve of World AIDS Day. Support for Life provides support to gay men and sex workers. (story)

Police are looking for three men who broke into Harvey's home confronting him and his two roommates. 

The armed men demanded money. "We hear that you are gay," the gunmen yelled at the trio.  The two housemates denied it but Harvey apparently remained silent. The housemates were gagged and bound.  

Harvey was ordered at gunpoint to help the gunmen carry valuables to his car.  He was forced into the vehicle and kidnapped by his attackers.

Two hours later, he was found, shot dead.

Last year Brian Williamson Jamaica's most vocal advocate of LGBT rights was murdered. (story)

According to Human Rights Watch: "Police actively support homophobic violence, fail to investigate complaints of abuse, and arrest and detain [men] based on their alleged homosexual conduct."

Gay sex is illegal in Jamaica, punishable by ten years in jail, with the possibility of hard labor.

Jamaican reggae star Buju Banton and two other men are facing trial on assault charges in a vicious attack on six gay men earlier this year.

Reggae, or Jamaican dancehall music, is blamed for fueling homophobia.  Banton's hit song Boom Boom Bye Bye which threatens gay men with a "gunshot in ah head". 2006

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