Tyler Perry faces backlash from Grenadians over homophobia remarks

July 29, 2023  -In response to a statement made by American actor and director Tyler Perry, numerous Grenadians took to social media this week to contest the portrayal of their nation as one plagued by homophobia and criminal activity.

Perry had recently offered a $100,000 reward for information regarding the murder of Josiah ‘Jonty’ Robinson. Robinson, a resident of Beaulieu, St George, was discovered deceased on BBC Beach on June 18, 2023.

The call to action from Perry occurred after he spoke with Yvette Noel-Schure, a Grenadian publicist and intimate friend to Jonty, who had served as a maternal figure in his life.

Perry shared his heartbreak with his Instagram audience.

“A few days ago I got an extremely heartbreaking phone call from my friend, Yvette Noel-Schure. Through her tears and grief she was telling me that in her home country of Grenada, a young man that was like a son to her was murdered. My soul ached as she shared that he was a young, gifted singer who was murdered because he was gay,” Perry wrote.

The actor-director drew parallels between Jonty’s death and other instances of violence.

“My mind immediately went to Mathew Shepard, and all the other victims of racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic, xenophobic, senseless violence. This kid was 24, how is this ok? His mother is devastated,” he continued.

The Royal Grenada Police Force (RGPF) has since dispelled allegations that Robinson’s murder was a hate crime.

Autopsy reports indicate that Robinson was strangled before his body was discarded into the sea.

Josiah ‘Jonty’ Robinson
Josiah ‘Jonty’ Robinson.

A strong response: Grenadians counter Perry’s accusations

Locals, while acknowledging the gravity of the crime, called on Perry and others to withhold judgment and allow the police investigation to proceed before casting their homeland in a negative light.

They argued that such accusations could jeopardize the tranquil island’s tourism-reliant economy.

Some of the comments on Perry’s post expressed concern over this hastily drawn portrait of their nation.

One individual commented expressing that murder over sexual orientation is not a common occurrence in Grenada, adding that such a heinous act is not comparable to practices in countries like Afghanistan, Brunei, Iran, Mauritania, and others.

Many echoed these sentiments, criticizing Perry for prematurely implying a hate crime in an ongoing investigation with no concrete evidence.

Despite the predominant defense of Grenada’s reputation, some users spotlighted the obstacles faced by queer individuals.

One user noted that Jonty and others from the queer community have been ridiculed when reporting violence against them.

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