Gareth Henry is a gay rights activist and Jamaican badminton player who is now also a refugee. He spends a lot of his time now helping Jamaican members of the LGBTQ community to flee Jamaica before they suffer brutality or death. Same-sex marriage is not legal in Jamaica, and many LGBTQ people, often, find themselves as the target of bigotry and hate. Gareth Henry now calls Toronto, Canada his home and has been a target and witness of the kind of violence that many gay people deal with daily.
Gareth Henry was trying to change all of that in Jamaica until he was targeted by law enforcement officials in his home country. In 2007, he was beat by policemen while a crowd watched on. He had already been attacked by police two other times and had decided to go into hiding afterwards. Some time later while he was driving one day, he was stopped by a police officer and was told that they had found him. The police officer told Henry that they were going to kill him, and that is when he fled the country.
Gareth Henry now serves as the interim director for the Toronto People With Aids Foundation. He also volunteers with Rainbow Railroad, which is a Canadian organization that works to relocate members of the LGBTQ community who are facing violence and persecution all over the globe. Some of Gareth Henry’s stories about how LGBTQ people in Jamaica have been abused would make most peoples’ stomachs turn. On the other hand, he has been inspired by people who stand up for gay family members by contacting the Rainbow Railroad to help get them away from those who would abuse them.
Gareth Henry, through his work with the Rainbow Railroad, has been able to help 60 refugees relocate to different countries in 2016, alone. He is glad to be able to help but hopes to see a better solution because people simply can’t just continue to leave their homeland. He has been happy to see politicians speaking up in defense of the LGBTQ community in Jamaica but really wishes they would take action rather than just talk.