Jamaican gold medal winner hit with anti-gay slur

Omar McLeod

Omar McLeod

Jamaica’s president has stepped in after a Jamaican company posted an anti-gay slur about one of the country’s new Olympians.

Omar McLeod, who won gold in the men’s 110-meter hurdles last week Tuesday, was celebrated by many of his compatriots for his fantastic victory.

Things turned sour, however, when the Jamaica Gleaner newspaper asked its readers on Twitter for suggestions for a caption for McLeod’s picture for the next day’s edition.

Shockingly, the Twitter account of Lasco, a leading Jamaican company, responded with the word “goldfish”. The term “fish” is a derogatory term for a gay man in Jamaica.

It appeared to be a comment about McLeod’s perceived or speculated-about sexual orientation.

The company at first claimed, as so many do when faced with the consequences of a controversial or offensive tweet, that its account had been hacked. Lasco later admitted that the tweet had indeed been posted by an employee who, it said, it had fired.

Lasco also deleted the tweet and deactivated the account. The company wrote that the post was “a clear breach of our values” and insisted that, “We at Lasco have the utmost respect for the remarkable achievement of Omar McLeod.”

Even President Portia Simpson Miller entered the fray, by tweeting: “I encourage all J’cans to celebrate our athletes who make us proud with their accomplishments. Let us unite to reject hate & bigotry. #OneJa”

In 2011, before she took office, Simpson-Miller said that she opposed discrimination against LGBT people and indicated a willingness to review the country’s criminalisation of homosexuality, but has since taken no action.

According to Section 76 of the Jamaican Offences Against the Person Act of 1864, a maximum sentence of 10 years can be issued for committing the crime of “buggery”.

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