Gareth Henry-Gay Rights Activist

Gareth Andre Theodore Henry was born on October 20,1977 in St. Mary’s, a small northern coastal town of Jamaica. Raised mostly by his grandmother and aunt, Gareth was a loner. He graduated from Titchfield High School in Port Antonio, Portland Parish before studying at Excelsior Community College and the University of the West Indies, both in Kingston. He hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Work, and a master’s in Communications for Social and Behaviour change.

Gareth Henry is a badminton player. He has won numerous tournaments as both a singles and doubles player. He played mixed doubles with his sister Geordine Henry, and won the Jamaican National Badminton Championships six times.

Because of homophobic violence and harassment in Jamaica, Mr. Henry felt he could not come out to anyone during his teenage years. But once he moved away from his hometown he felt free to be himself.

In 1997, Gareth Henry starting volunteering his time at JASL (Jamaica AIDS Support for Life). In 1998, he started volunteering at J-FLAG (Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays), a newly formed, and first in Jamaica, human rights organization supporting the LGBTQ community. In 2004 the cofounder and spokesman for J-FLAG was murdered and Mr. Henry became the new director.

From 2004-2007, Gareth Henry had 13 friends killed in homophobic attacks. He was the victim of three such attacks. Police either turned a deaf ear or were involved in the attacks. So in 2008, he left Jamaica and sought refugee protection in Canada. He was granted refugee status that same year thanks to groups like EGALE Canada, Metropolitan Community Church of Toronto, and Amnesty International’s assistance.

Gareth Henry currently works at the Toronto People with AIDS Foundation. He also volunteers at Rainbow Railroad. There he helps relocate LGBTQ refugees that are also trying to escape persecution and oppression.

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