Gareth Henry, the voice of the Jamaican LGBTQ community

In the year 2007, the name Henry Gareth made the international headline. This happened when the man was beaten up by policemen in front of a two hundred person mob that had ganged up on him at a pharmacy in Kingston Jamaica. The reason behind the attack was homophobia. After years of putting up with constant abuse, bullying and the death of several of his friends, Gareth Henry sought asylum in Canada in 2008.

Jamaica is one of the 76 countries around the globe where same-sex relationships have been criminalized. Activists have over the years come forward to speak for the rights of the LGBTQ community in Jamaica among them Gareth Henry.

Gareth Henry and the Jamaica Forum of Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays J-FLAG

J-FLAG is an organization that seeks to fight for the rights of the LGBTQ community in Jamaica. Upon the death of its former leader Brian Williamson in 2004, Gareth Henry took on the forum’s leadership role. Williamson died of stabbing in a homophobic attack against him. The struggles became real when Henry had to step up to the role and go public with his sexuality. He became the target of several homophobic attacks over the four years he held the position. During this time, he also witnessed the violent death of 13 of his friends most of whose bodies he had to identify.

His fight for change made him a target of the law enforcement leading to the 2007 incident on Valentine’s Day. On this day, he and a large group of gay men were chased into a pharmacy and attacked causing him to abandon his role in J-FLAG and flee to Canada thereafter. While in Canada, the now refugee continues to fight for the same cause and help people like him flee the persecution in Jamaica. In the process, Gareth is trying to make the Jamaican Government accountable for the inhuman acts and injustice against the LGBTQ community.

Gareth Henry as a sportsman

Gareth is an accomplished badminton player. He competed in the 2011 and 2014 commonwealth games as well as the 2015 Pan American Games. He is also a gold and bronze medalist in the game. Badminton is his core career and his free time is spent as an activist.