Gareth Henry is a world famous badminton player who hails originally from the island nation of Jamaica. He has competed is prestigious badminton competitions such as the Pan American Games in 2015 and the Commonwealth Games in 2011. He also had the honor of playing on the bronze medal team at the Pan Am Games in 2018. Gareth Henry is also an outspoken advocate for the LGBTQ community and knows first hand the kind of oppression that members of the community still continue to face today. The Jamaica native had to flee his homeland due to his gay identity. Fearing for his life, he fled to safety in Canada, but he continues to fight for LGBTQ rights and for those still affected back in his home of Jamaica.
Gareth Henry spends his free time from competitive badminton actively fighting for the Jamaican LGBTQ community. He is very thankful that he was able to find sanctuary in Canada as an escape from the persecution he faced. None the less, he is deeply concerned about LGBTQ community members back in Jamaica who do not have the choice of being able to remove themselves from the situation. Jamaica still carries a law that criminalizes same-sex relationships. This is a shocking situation in today’s world where there are still seventy-six countries with similar statutes on their books.
The sad part about what members of the LGBTQ community in Jamaica face is the fact that there is a culture of violence that has cropped up and many community members live in a recurring state of fear of homophobic groups seeking to cause them harm. Gareth Henry was outspoken against this violence when he was living in Jamaica and this led the authorities to make a target out of him. He received a beating and was made to feel that his life was truly in jeopardy.
Gareth Henry knows of many first-hand stories that are similar to his and he feels thankful that he had the opportunity to escape to a safe place. He will not remain quiet though and continues to fight for his community while exiled from his home country.