In recent development in response to Jamaica’s consistent negligence and abhorrent behavior towards the members of the LGBTQ community, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights made a public decision to call on Jamaica to repeal its anti-LGBTQ laws.
The commissions decision comes as no surprise considering that even among the 72 jurisdictions that have prohibited consensual same sex marriages, Jamaica has been notorious for its appalling treatment to its own queer citizens. Particularly with the cases of Gareth Henry, a gay man and Simone Edward, a lesbian woman both which became subject to international concern. The two individuals were made to bare extreme forms of abuse, at one point Gareth became the target of homophobic gang members who shot him multiple times.
Today, both Gareth Henry and Simone Edward have been granted asylum in foreign countries, however, Simone still holds hope that one day she can return to her homeland without having to fear prejudice and abuse. This story, however, is not limited to Henry and Simone, the ostracization and abandonment of queer individuals has been well incorporated into the law of Jamaica, through the 1864 Offences Against the Person Act. According to which any person who is found guilty of “buggery” or acts of “gross indecency” can face a sentence of up to 10 years in prison with hard labor.
In a shadow report submitted in 2011 to the Human Rights Committee it was discovered that the Jamaican government deliberately exposed queer people to discrimination based on their gender identity and sexual orientation by explicitly excluding protection based on ‘sex’ in their constitutional amendment. Even though this clause was met with scrutiny the politicians of Jamaica still continue to publicly engage in homophobic speech. This has had a ripple effect over the course of time, which has led the Jamaican population to foster an atmosphere of intolerance towards the LGBT community. Even the Jamaican Constabulary Force has known to be complicit in crimes of hate and violence towards the LGBT community.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights strongly establishes that sexual orientation is an aspect of persons private life and can not be held subject to state interference. It was only the logical step for the commission to move against the bigotry held so strongly by the Jamaican government.
It is our greatest wish that Jamaica embraces this movement and let’s go of its past, that Jamaica breaks the shackles of discrimination and can do right by its own LGBTQ community.