Outspoken gay badminton player Gareth Henry has dedicated his life to helping members of the LGBTQ community in his home country Jamaica. According to him, he has lost 13 friends who were killed in Jamaica for being gay. Currently, Jamaica has criminalized same-sex relationships, leaving those who are involved in this practice liable to arrest and even death. His commitment towards this cause is drawn from his own experience of being harassed because of his sexuality.
Gareth Henry has been an activist for the gay community from his young age. At one point, he was the co-chairperson of the Jamaica Forum of Lesbians, All-Sexuals, and Gays (J-FLAG). Now 39 years old, Henry helps people report anti-gay harassment to the police. Despite what could be seen as a humanitarian act by some people, his advocacy has landed him in trouble sometimes. At one point, Gareth said he was almost killed by the police and mob in Jamaica. This threat to his life forced him to seek asylum in Canada where he now lives as a refugee.
The LGBTQ community in Jamaica is living in fear because there are no laws to protect them. Gareth Henry uses his position as a volunteer in the Rainbow Railroad organization to help people who are being persecuted for being gay in their countries. The organization relocates people across the world using the Underground Railroad. His work so far has seen him witness horrific moments of people trying to hide from the wrath of their communities. Gareth Henry says some of the people he has helped to relocate were at one point forced to live in the sewers because they were being hunted down.
So far, Gareth Henry has assisted 60 refugees through the Rainbow Railroad most of who were of Jamaican origin. He now lives in Toronto with Gareth Henry’s fiancée who is also a refugee from Jamaica. His family has since joined him in Canada after they were targeted for supporting him. His work now aims at providing safety for the LGBTQ community who need a haven.