J-FLAG welcomes IACHR ruling on Jamaica's buggery lawThursday, February 18, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) has welcomed the ruling of the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR) that Jamaica's government violated the rights of a gay man and a lesbian.
The historic ruling sets a precedent for lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender (LGBT) rights across the Caribbean and is the commission's first finding that laws that criminalise LGBT people violate international law.
Decisions from the IACHR are not binding, but its strongly worded recommendations will give hope to LGBT communities in the nine Caribbean countries that still have colonial-era laws criminalising same-sex intimacy on their books.
“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, bisexual, gay and transgender persons in the Caribbean. “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,” J-FLAG said in a statement today.
The IACHR also urged the Jamaican Government to repeal the sections of the 1864 Offences Against the Person Act that criminalise consensual sexual conduct between men, and recommended enacting anti-discrimination laws to protect LGBT people. It also advised training for the police and security forces, who have long been complicit in or perpetrators of violence and harassment against LGBT Jamaicans.
“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,” said J-FLAG.
The human rights organisation said it remains open to having that dialogue and providing the space for the country's 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.
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