Badminton Pioneer Gareth Henry

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Badminton star and gay rights activist Gareth Henry was born on October 20, 1977 in Mandeville, Jamaica. He participated in the 2011 and 2015 Pan American Games as well as the 2014 Commonwealth Games. In 2016, he was rated as Jamaica’s number one badminton player. In 2018, he won bronze with the Jamaican national team at the 2018 Pan Am Men’s Championship and gold at the Central American and Caribbean Games.

Gareth Henry made headlines internationally when he was beaten by Jamaican policemen in front of a large crowd. This beating occurred merely because of Henry’s homosexuality. Henry complained of this incident to the Jamaican Ministry of Justice, hoping to receive their support, but these efforts were unsuccessful. Following this, Gareth Henry relocated and received asylum in Canada.

Henry earned a bachelors degree in social work and a masters degree in communications for social and behavior change. Gareth Henry has been a vocal advocate for LGBT rights. Along with the discrimination and harassment he has experienced, Henry has seen friends killed because of their sexual identity. He serves as a leader of the organization Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals, and Gays (J-FLAG). Henry filed a lawsuit against Jamaica with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Henry has also been an advocate for rectifying HIV/AIDS and other social issues. In 1997 he was an activist for Jamaica AIDS support for Life. In Canada he has been involved with Toronto People With AIDS Foundation and Rainbow Railroad. These organizations help relocated LGBTQ individuals who face abuse, discrimination and violence similar to that experienced by Henry. In 2016, Henry helped relocate 60 refugees through these programs.

Gareth Henry has seen some signs of progress in his home country Jamaica, but recognizes there is a long way to go. In 2017, Jamaica held its third PRiDE Jamaica celebration, however violence and discrimination against LGBTQ individuals is still prevalent.