Back in St Kitts and Nevis, where gay sex is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, Ryan was subject to constant harassment. Walking home from work, men would use homophobic slurs calling him “anti man” and “batty man.” Currently, Ryan is facing deportation from Canada, and will be sent back to a place where he has been viciously attacked.
Like Ryan, Sargeant is a gay man from St Kitts and Nevis who came to Canada seeking asylum.
But the difference between Sargeant and Ryan is that while the Canadian government plans to deport Ryan, Sargeant has been allowed to live in Canada as a refugee.
Sargeant, who spoke to Daily Xtra on the phone, had his refugee application approved in 2012 and provided an affidavit in favour of Ryan’s application this year.
Much of the abuse Sargeant suffered in his home country echoes what Ryan described.
He recalls attending a street party where he was heckled for being gay.
“When I was on my way home, I had to go through a park, and two of the guys I got in a fight with, they attacked me and stabbed me in the back over my right shoulder,” he says.
Sargeant says that when he went to parties, he would worry about them playing Jamaican dancehall music. Many dancehall tracks contain extreme homophobic language, and some even call for gay men to be burned alive.
“People [were] coming for me with the lighter, light the lighter literally in my face and I had to leave the party,” he says.
One time, a group of men started harassing him while he was working at a casino. They used homophobic slurs all night while he was dealing blackjack. He eventually had enough and mouthed them off. A few nights later, he was attacked on his way to work and beaten with a two-by-four board.
Like Ryan, Sargeant reported some of this violence to the police. After he was stabbed, Sargeant says he filed a report. But the police did nothing.
In fact, Sargeant says that he was called “anti man” and “batty man” by police officers, who laughed at him. And the police didn’t follow up on his case, despite numerous attempts by Sargeant to get them to act.