By Maurice Tomlinson
At the Universal Periodic Review of Jamaica's human-rights situation, held before the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva on November 9, the head of the Jamaican delegation, Senator Marlene Malahoo-Forte, misinformed the world about Jamaica's human-rights record with regard to gays.
One of her more glaring inaccuracies was that Jamaica has a documented policy to protect women, girls and homosexuals! No such policy exists.
Her statement that "Jamaica does not condone discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation" was startling, in light of our prime minister's very public statement to the British Broadcasting Corporation that no gays will form part of his Cabinet.
She also said that in Jamaica "there is no legal discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation". This belies Section 79 of the Offences Against the Person Act, which discriminates against gays by criminalising any form of intimacy between two men, whether done in private or public.
As a lawyer, a former member of the director of public prosecutions' office and resident magistrate, Senator Malahoo-Forte must surely know about this infamous section.
A fanciful notion
She also denied the existence of "credible" evidence of continued human-rights abuses against gays. Yet, when the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays requested a meeting with the prime minister to discuss these abuses, they were denied.
From the senator's presentation it would appear that effeminate gay Jamaican men can now walk openly downtown Kingston without fear of attack. Truly a fanciful notion. No wonder 11 countries were unimpressed with her presentation and called on Jamaica to end its homophobic laws and policies.