The local gay community has expressed pleasure at the Police High Command's withdrawal of Senior Superintendent Fitz Bailey's recent controversial claims about links between homosexuals and organised crime.
In a swift response to yesterday's statement by Police Commissioner Owen Ellington, a relieved Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) commended the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) for the withdrawal of the senior policeman's assertion.
Earlier this week Bailey, who heads the Organised Crime Investigation Division (OCID), stated that gays made up a large number of persons prominently involved in the lottery scam, an organised and highly lucrative criminal enterprise.
In his statement yesterday, Ellington said his intervention in the matter was prompted by Bailey's attempt to clarify his statement, noting that placing it within the context of offender profiling had not fully resolved the concerns of the gay community and its sympathisers.
The police commissioner said he discussed the matter with Bailey, who shared information with him supporting his assertion and cited discussions he has had with representatives of J-FLAG about the problem.
According to Ellington, Bailey fully understands the basis of concern for the safety and well-being of members of the gay community who might be targeted by misguided individuals simply because of the statements under reference.
"The JCF, therefore, withdraws the statement and expresses regret to all Jamaicans and our international partners for any concern, anxiety and any appearance of unfair labelling which may have been construed from the message," Ellington asserted.
"We wish to assure all that the JCF has no policy of singling out any particular social grouping for special police attention. Our focus is on enforcing the laws without fear, favour, prejudice or ill will," he added.
The commissioner's comments were released two days after Bailey insisted he would not back down.
"Owen Ellington must be lauded for his leadership on the issue," stated J-FLAG in a release. "Both the decision to retract and SSP Bailey's efforts to clarify his original statement are well received by members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual (LGBT) community."
Dane Lewis, J-FLAG's executive director, said his organisation sincerely hoped the police force would use the experience as a guide to how it frames issues regarding LGBT persons, especially those who are victims of crimes and are at risk of violence.
At a meeting yesterday, Lewis said he assured the Organised Criminal Investigation Division (OCID) that J-FLAG supports the efforts of the police to arrest all crimes and mitigate their impact on all Jamaicans.
Lewis also stated that J-FLAG remained committed to working with the police to address issues of crime and violence especially where they directly concern the LGBT community.