Gays and Lesbians in Jamaica

by Yolanda King
(Chicago, Illinois)

I understand that life in Jamaica is extremely dangerous for gay and lesbian people in Jamaica.


This is something that is never really publicized and is almost always covered up by Jamaican websites or Facebook pages, but the I understand that the reality is that there are laws in Jamaica that work to keep gay and lesbian Jamaicans in the closet and that gay people can be killed in Jamaica without any punishment at all by the offenders.

Jamaica will advertise itself as a "paradise on earth" but will always stay silent on the fact that if you are gay in Jamaica, then your life is not worth anything.

Editor's Note

Hi Yolanda,

Thanks for bringing up this topic - albeit a very sensitive issue.

I am not certainly not a lawyer and cannot speak on the legal stuff, but I will share a bit of insight into this based on my reading.

Apparently, it is Article 76 & 79 of Jamaica's Offences Against the Person Act that have some literature around this.

Article 76 for example, makes "the abominable crime of buggery" but it does not require the use of force for it to be considered an offence; so therein lies the argument that there might be some legal discrimination for gays.

But that is only for gays, there is apparently nothing legally preventing sexual acts between women.

The concern appears to be more of the cultural orientation and there is some positive development as in 2012, the governrning PNP administration proclaimed that:

"It is committed to the equal and fair treatment of its citizens, and affirms that any individual whose rights are alleged to have been infringed has a right to seek redress."

The government also claimed that "there is no legal discrimination against persons on the grounds of their sexual orientation" and that it "is opposed to discrimination or violence against persons whatever their sexual orientation."

The assistant commissioner of Police (in 2012) reported that Jamaica's reputation as homophobic was merely "hype" and that life for LGBT persons was improving.

He went on to say that "the real problem was 'gay-on-gay' crimes, and members of the community cross dressing in public"

One thing I know though, is that JFLAG - the principal non-governmental organization (NGO) advocating on behalf of gays and lesbians in Jamaica, are hot on the heals of the government, media and the wider society for even an even wider acceptance of the group.

What's my personal view?
I think the temperature is cooling much more. I am not certainly not hearing any new dancehall songs bemoaning homosexualty and is seeing an even wider tolerance level on the ground.

So what's your view? Share it below I only ask that you please remain balanced and respectful in your comments and opinions.


References:
http://www.refworld.org/publisher/IRBC.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_rights_in_Jamaica

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Nov 30, 2013
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Gays and Lesbians in Jamaica
by: Yolanda King

Thank you for your response to my inquiry regarding gays and lesbians in Jamaica. I would like to add however, that although you state that the life for the LGBT community in Jamaica is showing signs of improvement, I can only respectfully disagree. The more that I read about it I see that there has been in increase of murders of gay and lesbians, and NOT by other gay people, but by other homophobic Jamaicans. These murders are done in such a public way because most people know that no repercussions will come their way. The police look the other way, the government is silent, the church is silent and even in some instances the legal system looks the other way. I find all of this extremely sad and disturbing because my parents were from Jamaica and Jamaica is a country that I grew up with strong affection for growing up. It hurts me to know that this is really part of the culture and will probably always be part of the culture of Jamaica.

Nov 29, 2013
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