J-FLAG backs IACHR ruling calling for Jamaica to abolish buggery laws

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J-FLAG backs IACHR ruling calling for Jamaica to abolish buggery laws

Friday, February 19, 2021

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J-FLAG (Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays) yesterday welcomed the recent ruling of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) calling on Jamaica to repeal its buggery law following petitions filed by two Jamaicans who claimed they were victimised because of their sexuality.

“Their ruling is reflective of the positive wave within local and regional judicial bodies as noted in Belize, Trinidad and Guyana to affirm and protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in the Caribbean,” said the Jamaican group.

“Importantly, the commission presented a menu of options for the Government of Jamaica to address the situation faced by the petitioners and others like them who have faced stigma, discrimination, violence and exclusion. We think, like every thing that happens at the international level, the case and the recommendations therein present an opportunity for increased dialogue between us and the Government of Jamaica on how to best secure the rights of LGBT Jamaicans and ensure that the tragic incidents experienced by the petitioners do not recur.

“J-FLAG remains open to having that dialogue and providing the space for our leaders to engage members of the LGBT community around their experiences and challenges, and begin the process of addressing the prevalence of stigma and discrimination identified within the petition,” said the group.

The two Jamaicans who brought the case — Gareth Henry and Simone Edwards — convinced the IACHR that Jamaica's laws against buggery and gross indecency violated their rights and legitimised violence towards the LGBT community in Jamaica. These laws, they said, were originally imposed by the British colonial administration in Jamaica and still remain on the law books even though Britain has since abandoned those provisions.

Both Henry and Edwards told the IACHR that they were forced to flee Jamaica following violent attacks because of their sexuality. In its decision, which was handed down in September 2019 but could not be reported before now, the IACHR ruled that Jamaica was responsible for the violation of multiple rights of the claimants.


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