Earlier today, while in Jamaica, President Obama held a town hall where he invited and recognized LGBT advocates from the country. Following the meeting, US National Security Advisor Susan Rice tweeted, “Anti-LGBT discrimination and violence is unacceptable everywhere. This is US policy globally, as we discussed here in Jamaica today.”
President Obama was in Jamaica to meet with Caribbean government leaders. As part of the trip, the President participated in a town hall meeting with “young leaders.” During his opening remarks, he acknowledged Angeline Jackson, the executive director of Quality of Citizenship Jamaica, the only organization in Jamaica dedicated to the needs of lesbian and bisexual women, for her bravery and advocacy. Dane Lewis, the executive director of J-FLAG, a Jamaican LGBT organization, attended the town hall.
"To hear Angeline being acknowledged and celebrated by the President was awesome to behold. It showed inclusion," Lewis said in response to the meeting. "The US Human Rights agenda was made even clearer by that bold move to single out persons who had come through 'hard times' and persevered in-spite of their social background, gender, race or sexual orientation."
Prior to President Obama’s visit, a broad group of US-based human rights organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign, sent a letter to President Obama requesting that he meet with Caribbean LGBT advocates while in Jamaica and make clear his support of the human rights of LGBT people in the region. Caribbean LGBT advocates made a similar request in a separate letter.
The letter sent to President Obama by Caribbean LGBT advocates stated that LGBT people "remain at risk in the Caribbean region. Eleven nations criminalize same-sex relationships, including Jamaica. Even in places where laws have been repealed or are not enforced, societal stigma, willful discrimination and bias violence are still major concerns, and hate crime goes prosecuted."
"We commend the President for including LGBT advocates in his meetings in Jamaica," said Ty Cobb, director of HRC Global. "By including them in his visit to Jamaica, he honored their brave work and demonstrated our country’s commitment to standing up for the human rights of all people."