Why Jamaican Badminton Player Gareth Henry Had To Flee To Canada

Gareth Henry is a gay activist and professional badminton player. He first started playing in international competitions in 2010 when he partnered with Kristal Karjohn at the Central American and Caribbean Games. He has since competed in other tournaments such as the BWF International Series, the Pan American Games, and the Commonwealth Games. During his professional career, he has won a bronze and gold medal.

His birthplace is Jamaica. He was born in 1977 and started going to high school when he was 10 years old. Gareth Henry says that it was during his teenage years that he became aware he was gay. In Jamaica being gay gets you harassed, attacked, and even killed. He mostly kept this information to himself but other boys could tell and would shout insults at him.

He went on to earn both a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree at the University of the West Indies. These were in social work and communications for social and behavior change respectively. He was also a volunteer for two gay rights organizations while he was in college and still in Jamaica. He says that it was after three vicious beatings by police officers and one telling him that he was going to be killed that he knew he needed to get out of Jamaica.

Canada accepted Gareth Henry as a refugee in January 2008. He began living in Toronto and found a job at a gay rights nonprofit, Toronto People With AIDS Foundation. He is one of their service access managers and also spends time volunteering his time at Rainbow Road. This latter organization helps people who are LGBTQ and need to escape violence and oppression targeting them.

Gareth Henry says that he has heard a lot of horror stories from people the Rainbow Road are trying to protect. This includes people being attacked by dogs or having acid dumped on them. To date, he has helped over 60 refugees and find them new homes internationally. The people he has helped live not just in Jamaica but all over the world. In Jamaica and 76 other nations, it is against the law to be in a same-sex relationship and treated harshly by society.

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