Political Ombudsman and clergyman, Bishop Herro Blair (foreground) makes a point to journalists during a press conference at the Stella Marris pastoral centre in St. Andrew yesterday. Beside him is executive director of Jamaicans for Justice, Dr Carolyn Gomes
The forum, headed by Political Ombudsman and clergyman, Bishop Herro Blair, said while the act is illegal and immoral, Jamaicans must abstain from mob violence and should instead seek to build a culture of tolerance for such individuals.
In recent months, there has been a drastic increase in the number of mob attacks on homosexuals, the group claimed with as many as 16 since January according to the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians and All-Sexuals (JFLAG). This is coming from a figure of 40 beatings in 2006, JFLAG claimed.
The group is also calling on the police to be more sensitive to cases involving alleged homosexuals and to treat them equally under the law.
He said if the security forces make the first move, then the rest of society might follow suit.
"Our people must be told that the law must have its course and until, if and when (and I pray that it will never be that the law is changed), then we have to abide and play by the rules," said Bishop Blair. "I heard of a case last week where a member of a family went to visit someone and, in visiting the person, was labelled to be homosexual and was thoroughly thrashed. It (did not come out) that the person was not a homosexual until he sought help of members of the security forces, who said they literally had nothing to do with homosexuals," said the Bishop.
His comments were echoed by Dr. Carolyn Gomes, executive director of Jamaicans For Justice, who added that a request had been made to meet with the police to discuss the issue.
"(We must) ensure that the police force knows for itself and sends the message down that they are to protect, serve and reassure all Jamaicans and uphold equal treatment for all Jamaicans," she said.