Trini artiste a victim of gay hate crime in NY

(Trinidad Guardian) While gay communities celebrated Wednesday’s US Supreme Court ruling which gave federal recognition to married same-sex couples, one Caribbean activist group has been rallying support after a hateful attack against a Trinidadian-born artiste.

Zaman Mohammed Amin
Zaman Mohammed Amin

New York newspaper Times Ledger reported that on June 23, Zaman Mohammed Amin suffered head injuries after his Caribbean Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual (LGBT) activist group, Chutney Pride, was attacked by a Caribbean tassa group at Players Restaurant and Bar in Richmond Hill, Queens. Amin, an East Indian dancer whose stage name is “Sundari Indian Goddess,” has performed alongside several local chutney artistes including chutney queen Drupatee Ramgoonai.

His group, Chutney Pride, is a social organisation made up of Caribbean natives whose aim is to promote equality for LGBT communities. According to Times Ledger, Amin was cheering on his brother Mohamed Q Amin’s boyfriend who had entered a cooking competition at the bar. It was alleged that a customer made demeaning comments about Amin’s group, and when he took offence, it drew attention to his sexual orientation.

The report stated that Amin and his brother were dragged outside the bar where members of the tassa group were engaged in an altercation with Amin’s friends. During a scuffle, a suspect allegedly seized a trophy won by one of Amin’s friends in the cooking competition and struck him. Amin received seven staples at the Jamaica Hospital to close the gaping wound on his head.

Days after, the attack Chutney Pride and other groups held an anti-violence rally and even engaged in a placard demonstration outside the bar. According to various news outlets, Richmond Hill police are investigating the assault as a hate crime. Despite the LGBT community claiming victory from the court nullifying of the Defence of Marriage Act, Amin’s assault was the 22nd against the city’s gay community for 2013.

The attack has caught the attention of local LGBT group, Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation (Caiso), which said the incident was saddening because it was committed by another Caribbean group. “It is tragic that the perpetrators were also Indo-Caribbean. They were players in a tassa band. It helps reinforce the idea of the Caribbean person as particularly homophobic.

“That kind of narrative, while it may reflect part of the reality, it often ignores the progress being made by Caribbean people in advancing equal rights for sexual minorities,” said Richie Maitland, deputy director of Caiso. Maitland also extended condolences as Caiso had collaborated with Chutney Pride in the past.

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