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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 June, 2004, 16:42 GMT 17:42 UK
Jamaican gay activist murdered
Kingston, Jamaica
Jamaica has a reputation for intolerance towards gays
Jamaica's best-known gay rights activist has been found dead at his home with multiple stab wounds.

Brian Williamson, 59, was discovered by a neighbour, lying in a pool of blood.

The J-Flag gay rights group he founded said it believed the killing was a hate crime, but police said they were treating it as a robbery.

Male homosexuality is illegal in Jamaica, and the island has a reputation of intolerance towards gays, including a trend of homophobic songs.

J-Flag mourned Mr Williamson's death, and urged police to consider his known homosexuality as a motive for the murder.

He was so courageous...he was very selfless
J-Flag volunteer Tony Hron
"The condition of his body ... and his visibility as a gay man lead us to suspect this is a hate-related crime," the group said.

But police said they have not reached that conclusion.

Corporal Devon Hugh Williams of the Constabulary Communication Network (CCN) was quoted by the Jamaica Observer as saying: "At this time the police are theorising robbery to be the motive, as a money safe he had is missing and the apartment was ransacked."

But officers had a "strong lead", he added, saying two men had been spotted at the apartment on Wednesday.

Violence in songs

Mr Williamson lived in one flat in the block in the capital Kingston, and let others out to tenants, the Observer said.

He was one of the first Jamaicans publicly to oppose discrimination against gays and HIV/Aids victims.

"He was so courageous," said J-Flag volunteer Tony Hron.

"He never stopped to think, 'oh, I might get in trouble for this,' so in that sense he was very selfless."

At least 30 gay men are reported to have been murdered in Jamaica since 1997.

Popular songs on the island often advocate violence against gays, or even their murder.

Jamaica's Prime Minister P.J. Patterson has resisted pressure from human rights groups to repeal the anti-sodomy law.

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