Gays attacked in St Lucia

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Castries Harbor from Morne Fortune, St Lucia

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CASTRIES, St Lucia (CMC) - The St Lucia government today that the recent attack on three gay visitors to the island appeared to be perpetrated by individuals whose views do not reflect the sentiments of the majority of law abiding citizens.

In a statement, the authorities said that they were extending "sincere apologies" and a speedy recovery to United States citizens Todd Wiggins, Michael Baker and Nick Smith, who were assaulted while on the island.

"St Lucia does not condone such acts of violence appeared to be perpetrated by individuals whose views do not reflect sentiments of the majority of law-abiding citizens.  

"Whether or not this crime was motivated by anti-gay sentiment, or during the course of robbery, it is none-the-less unacceptable behaviour and our destination will not tolerate it. Our law enforcement authorities are pursuing this matter relentlessly," the statement noted.

The three visitors were attacked as they showered together in a cottage in the west coast town of Soufriere.

One of the men has since 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 visitors say that in addition to being attacked, robbed and beaten they were subjected to certain discriminatory remarks.

Police said they have arrested two of the five men involved in the incident and have recovered most of the stolen items.

In the statement, the government said that St Lucia has always been a safe destination, respectful of people's own choices for religion, beliefs and perspectives on life.

Tourism Minister Allen Chastanet over the weekend warned that the situation had the potential to tarnish the island's reputation and tourism sector.

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