Gareth Henry – Badminton Champion And Champion For Gay Rights

Gareth Henry is a world-class Jamaican-born badminton player. He is the winner of numerous tournaments both as a singles player and in mixed doubles partnering with his sister, Geordine Henry.

After coming out publicly as a gay man, Gareth Henry became a leader in the fight to combat homophobia and violence against the gay community in Jamaica. He ascended to the a leadership position of J-Flag (the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All Sexuals and Gays). During his four years with J-Flag he experienced the violent deaths of 13 friends at the hands of anti-gay perpetrators of violence.

Gareth Henry, himself, was subjected to brutal attacks on three occasions. His activism led to resentment among authorities culminating in a 2007 incident where he was beaten by a group of policemen while inside a pharmacy. Others stood by and watched, doing nothing to intervene. Subsequently, while stopped at a traffic light, he was approached by a police officer who knocked on the car window and told him, “We know where you are,” and that he might be killed.

This threat led Gareth Henry to seek asylum in Canada. In 2008, he moved to Toronto after the Canadian government granted him refugee status. Not deterred, he picked up where he left off; working at Toronto People With AIDS Foundation and becoming interim director there. On a volunteer basis, he works with Rainbow Railroad, a non-profit dedicated to helping to relocate refugee members of the LGBQT community who suffered persecution and violence in many countries where this hatred persists.