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Tourism Minister Allen Chastanet
As St Lucia braces for the possible fallout from an attack on three gay men from the United States as they showered together in a cottage in the west coast town of Soufriere, tourism officials are this week arranging meetings with the visitors to do some damage control.
“One of the sensitive issues in this regard is that… there were some discriminatory remarks which were made to them, and which obviously offended them tremendously,” Tourism Minister Allen Chastanet said.
“Given the fact that homosexuality is against the law in St Lucia, the visitors harboured concerns about going to the police.”
Chastanet said that one of the men who had become very attached to St Lucia was in the process of raising funds to help slow learners in the various schools on the island.
In another reaction to the incident Foreign Minister Rufus Bousquet told reports Friday that there was more to the incident that meets the eye.
“Sometimes in government we are privy to information which we can’t necessarily release and which in some cases is speculative because you can’t actually prove it, so while there may be more to this the fact of the matter is it is a most unfortunate incident and not the kind of thing that we like to see in St Lucia,” he said.
“Generally the government will never condone such a thing as we find it reprehensibly and should be condemned in every circle in which there is a facility to condemn it.”
One of the men has taken his story to several leading gay publications in the United States and has also documented his ordeal on various social networks, suggesting that the incident represented a hate crime directed at gays.
The local organisation United and Strong, which has in the past advocated on behalf of gays and lesbians, has condemned the incident and said that the risk to the men increased once the criminals recognised their sexual orientation.
United and Strong, a representative of which is currently in the United States, is seeking a meeting with the victims.
The three visitors said that in addition to being attacked, robbed and beaten, they were subjected to certain discriminatory remarks.
Police said they have captured two of the five men involved in the incident and have found most the stolen items which have since been returned to the tourists.
They said the search is continuing for the other three.