Beating of gay student by Jamaican security guards draws international condemnation

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Wednesday November 7, 2012 – Jamaica has captured international attention again, but this time for all the wrong reasons, as viewers worldwide recoiled in horror from a YouTube video depicting an alleged gay student at the University of Technology (UTech) being beaten by two security guards.

The incident took place last Thursday when the student was reportedly caught on campus in “a compromising position” with another man in a bathroom.

Incensed fellow students are said to have pursued the pair, one of whom escaped, while the other sought refuge in the guard room at the entrance of the Papine campus where he was attacked by the apparently homophobic security personnel.

“This student was physically assaulted by on-duty security guards employed by the contracted security company, Marksman Limited, while several other students encircled the guard room attempting to get hold of the student,” according to a joint statement issued by UTech, the UTech Students’ Union, and Marksman Limited.

The student, said the statement, was protected from the mob by security officers and removed from the campus with support from the police.

(Video credit: TVJ – YouTube)

“The university’s administration, the university’s Students’ Union, and Marksman Limited strongly condemn the assault on the student by the security guards, and other individuals,” the statement noted.

The two security guards implicated in the beating were subsequently fired by Marksman Limited and taken into police custody.

Meanwhile, UTech said it was conducting an in-depth investigation into the incident and was providing counselling to those involved, while the Students’ Union executive has initiated a series of discussions and sensitisation sessions to encourage appropriate behaviour to support the safety and security of the wider student body.

In expressing concern about the incident, the National Youth Council of Jamaica said all forms of abuse must be soundly condemned, regardless of an individual’s sexual orientation.

For its part, human rights group Jamaicans For Justice (JFJ) said that the horrifying act of violence was yet another example of society’s willingness to accept violence as an appropriate response in too many circumstances.

The Jamaica Civil Society Coalition, meanwhile, said it was appalled by the violence meted out to two alleged homosexual students at the university.

“All persons, whether heterosexual or otherwise, should be circumspect in their sexual conduct. Indiscretion cannot, however, be justification for the violence which was captured on video. The fact that a security guard, trained and employed to protect the students, staff and visitors to the UTech campus, would be the perpetrator of the vicious attack is particularly reprehensible,” the coalition stated.

It added that the behaviour of the students was an indictment on the whole society, its values and failure to inculcate in its youth any modicum of respect for life, tolerance of differences or basic self-control.

The incident was also condemned by the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays, while several overseas groups have expressed outrage at the episode, which received widespread coverage in the international media.  Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)