2009-02-05 15:40:56
Killing Gays in The Bahamas is Practically Legal
A Bahamian court's murder acquittal of a man who claimed he stabbed a gay, HIV-positive man to death while defending himself against an attempted rape, has attracted the attention and concern of gay communities around the world.

Last week, a Supreme Court jury decided that Frederick Green-Neely, 25, should be absolved of a murder charge stemming from the February 9, 2004 stabbing death of Dale Williams. Green-Neely had told the jury that he stabbed Williams three times after Williams grabbed his genitals. Green-Neely's attorney, Dorsey McPhee, had argued that his client was "defending his manhood" and Williams' death was lustified".

Yesterday, the acquittal was receiving widespread attention in cyberspace with links to articles about the matter landing near the tap of web searches on The Bahamas throughout the course of the day.

At the Internet website of UK-based pinknews, a story under the heading "Nassau man freed after using gay panic defense at murder trial" was listed as the second most popular story.

Pinkn.ews says it is Europe's largest gay news service. Meanwhile, at the Internet website of American-based gay magazine, OnTop, the story, was also carried: "This is a case of stupidity, of an antiquated government style and island mentality that I hope people, especially gays, will never visit again," one pinknews reader, who gave his name as Robert, said in a section of the magazine's website reserved for comment on the story. "The preposterous idea of a gay defense is creepy and shows the island mentality. Human is human, gay or not, and this supposed 'man' that was acquitted should still face charges of civil rights violations."

A pinknews reader who gave his name as Johnny, wrote: "They (The Bahamas) hate us, but they certainly love our money."

A professional in the gay travel industry noted yesterday that negative publicity from the news stories about the acquittal could potentially dissuade both gay and straight tourists from vacationing in The Bahamas.

"I think whether it's gay travel or any travel, someone should be advised that when someone is [acquitted of] murder... that, possibly, that area, that destination, is not very safe," said Tom Nibbio, manager of global partnership, at the Florida-based International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association.

Nibbio said his organization's policy was to steer away from advising tourists where not to travel, and instead focus on recommending destinations that are friendly to gay tourists.

He added: "From previous incidents around the world, where there has been danger, it is always a deterrent for tourism."

The Bahamas has received negative publicity in the past, following protests by conservative elements against cruises catering to gay visitors. But despite the protests in downtown Nassau, as such cruises arrived, there has been little fallout.

Grand Cayman and Jamaica have also received negative press over moves to prohibit gay cruises. Grand Cayman has since lifted its ban, but gay-orientated cruises are still not permitted in Jamaica, where a strong anti-gay sentiment is known to persist.

Yesterday, Director General of Tourism Vernice Walkine pointed out that The Bahamas neither promotes nor encourages tourism geared toward sexual orientation, but conceded that publicity dissuading tourists of any sexual persuasion was cause for concern.

"We have people of the gay persuasion who come through our ports every day, but they don't announce themselves as such, and so we don't know and we don't care because it doesn't matter," she said. "We are not asking people their orientation because that is discrimination." Wallkine said negative publicity in gay communities "would be of concern because we do not want to be characterized as people who are unfriendly to people on the basis of their sexual orientation."

By RAYMOND KONGWA
NG Senior Reporter
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