News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. June 28, 2013: Hemish Gervis has been standing up for gay Caribbean immigrants with his Gay Caribbean USA Pageant since 2009. As Gervis tells it, the contest was launched “to help foster tolerance of the gay lifestyle within the Caribbean American Community. “ On Wednesday, Gervis was among those welcoming the Supreme Court’s decision to repeal the “Defense of Marriage Act – DOMA”
The Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that married same-sex couples were entitled to federal benefits in a 5 to 4 vote, sending the gay community in New York and across the nation, into celebratory mode.
Gervis is among those celebrating, along with his friends and contestants of his annual pageant.
“The Caribbean American Gay Community are in high spirits and view the repel of the “Defense of Marriage Act – DOMA” as a fundamental step towards equality for all of humanity,” Gervis told NAN, while calling the vote a “historic moment in our times.”
But the pageant founder says the U.S. Supreme Court ruling now puts the spotlight on gay rights in the Caribbean, where homosexuality is still illegal in many nations and where gays still face discrimination even in the Caribbean American community in the United States.
So much so that a protest action is being planned for Friday at 129th Street and Liberty Ave. in Queens N Y. to support the Guyanese contestant, Sundari Indian Goddess, who pageant officials say “was gay bashed last weekend.”
The Indo-Caribbean drag queen, whose real name is Mohamed “Zaman” Amin, 28, was bashed over the head on Sunday, June 23rd by a man who hurled homophobic slurs at him and his friends. New York police are investigating the attack as another hate crime in a wave of rising violence against the city’s LGBT community.
The incident began about 9 p.m. when one of the men, who was emceeing a duck curry cook-off at Players, announced to bar patrons that “the gays are in the house,” the victim said.
“I approached him and told him, ‘What you just did is very disrespectful to our people,’” Amin told DNAinfo New York on Tuesday.
“He laughed about it and walked away,” added Amin, who’s also known as drag queen Sundari Indian-Goddess. “I held his hand and told him, ‘You have to understand this is not a laughing matter.’”
The men continued to hurl more homophobic slang at the group, the victim said. Amin’s sister Bibi Amin jumped in and began arguing with one of the men. Another member of Amin’s entourage, Anoop Pandohie, traded punches with one of the alleged harassers.
That’s when the attacker, who is yet to be identified, picked up the second-place trophy Pandohie had won in the cook-off and allegedly bashed Amin over the head with it.
The Caribbean-born Amin, who’s an activist at the Queens gay rights group Chutney Pride, was rushed to Jamaica Hospital and needed seven staples to stop the bleeding.
“This was an attack on me but it’s also an attack on the LGBT community at large,” he tond DNAinfo. “There have been so many attacks in Manhattan and now they’re moving to Queens.”
The U.S. Supreme Court repeal has now put the “discussion on the state of gay rights in the Caribbean region,” Gervis said. “Many Caribbean American Gays are now turning their attention to the possibility of gay rights being taken more seriously and placed on the front burner of Caribbean decision makers and leaders. It is our hope that Wednesday’s decision by the U.S Supreme Court will pave the way for easing legislation towards the gay Community in the Caribbean.”