Metro Weekly

Former Westboro member visits LGBT homeless in Jamaica

“There’s an irony there that I couldn’t ignore: that I share a fate with the very people I was taught to dehumanize so fiercely.”

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Grace Phelps-Roper, granddaughter of Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps Sr., in a statement sent to The Huffington Post. Phelps, who left the notoriously anti-gay church famous for its “God Hates Fag” slogan, travelled to Jamaica with Planting Peace to learn about the plight of LGBT people there.

“I spent twenty years learning why God hates gays, preaching that they’re ‘beasts’ and ‘depraved,’ and protesting anyone who dared to speak up for them,” Phelps stated. “When I heard about the young people living in Jamaican sewers because their parents kicked them out for being gay, my heart hurt for them. I know what that’s like, being rejected by your family for not going along with their beliefs. There’s an irony there that I couldn’t ignore: that I share a fate with the very people I was taught to dehumanize so fiercely. I wanted to meet them, to see their plight for myself, and help tell the world their story.”

Arron Jackson, President of Planting Peace, travelled with Phelps to Jamaica and stated that conditions in the sewers of Jamaica’s capital Kingston were “…nothing short of horrific. We documented acid attacks, stab wounds and even personally witnessed an altercation.”

Jamaica is one of the most anti-LGBT places on earth, with up to ten years in prison for same-sex sexual activity and, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, “No law which prevents discrimination against an individual on the basis of his or her sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. There is no legislation addressing hate crimes in Jamaica.”

Image Credit: Planting Peace/ Grace Phelps-Roper

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's online editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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