Sunday, 23 October 2011

Report: The state of LGBT human rights in Jamaica

Coat of arms of Jamaica.Image via Wikipedia
Human Rights Violations of Lesbian, Gay,  Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) people in Jamaica: A Shadow Report
  • Submitted for consideration at the 103rd Session of the Human Rights Committee
  • October 2011, Geneva 
  • Submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Committee by:
•  Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals, and Gays (J-FLAG)
•  Women for Women (Kingston, Jamaica)
•  Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights
•  International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC)
•  AIDS-Free World (AFW)
•  The George Washington University Law School International Human Rights Clinic
The human  rights situation of  Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) people in Jamaica is dire. The Jamaican government recently amended its Constitution, adding a new Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms (Charter). However, the Charter does not contain protection against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

In fact the Jamaican government explicitly excluded protections on the basis of “sex” and instead granted  protections  against  discrimination on the grounds of being  male or female, thus excluding any possibility for judicial interpretation of the Charter as including protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Jamaica retains colonial legislation criminalizing same-sex sexual conduct. A constitutional provision prevents judges from reviewing the constitutionality of any laws enacted prior to the adoption of the constitution. The only potential manner of overturning these laws is through legislative mechanism. However, the legislature has refused to take steps to strike down these provisions, and the Jamaican Prime Minister has explicitly stated that he does not support any attempt to repeal these laws.

Jamaican politicians publically engage in homophobic speech, which fosters an atmosphere of intolerance towards LGBT people within the Jamaican population.  Violence and discrimination against LGBT individuals  is  common  and  widespread. Often the police, the Jamaican Constabulary Force(“JCF”), are complicit in these crimes. Even when the police are not involved, the government is in violation of its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) for failing to protect, investigate, and prosecute perpetrators of violence and discrimination against individuals on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Further, the Jamaican government offers no protections to LGBT individuals. Similarly situated
individuals in opposite-sex and same-sex relationships are treated differently under Jamaican law.

Transgender persons are afforded no legal recognition of their preferred gender, which marginalizes them from the rest of society. Additionally, the atmosphere of intolerance denies LGBT individuals access to minimum state services, such as health care and police protection.

The state of LGBT human rights in Jamaica

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