"The health of all Jamaicans regardless of their race, religion or sexual preference is of utmost importance. We want to foster a safe and friendly public health delivery system, one that Jamaicans will feel comfortable engaging with for both information and treatment," said Tufton, as he reiterated his call for a more open dialogue around risky sexual practices that increase infection rates.
The 2011 Charter of Rights amendment to the constitution prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, place of origin, political opinion, color, or creed. The government generally enforced these prohibitions, although there continued to be widespread discrimination based on party affiliation in the distribution of scarce governmental benefits, including... Expand
The 2011 Charter of Rights amendment to the constitution prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, place of origin, political opinion, color, or creed. The government generally enforced these prohibitions, although there continued to be widespread discrimination based on party affiliation in the distribution of scarce governmental benefits, including employment, particularly in the poor inner city communities.
The law prohibits “acts of gross indecency” (generally interpreted as any kind of physical intimacy) between persons of the same sex, in public or in private, punishable by two years in prison. There is also an “antibuggery” law that prohibits consensual same-sex sexual conduct between men, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, but it was not enforced during the year. Homophobia was widespread in the country, perpetuated by the country’s dancehall culture through the songs and the behavior of some musicians. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons faced violence, harassment, and discrimination.
In July an official at J-FLAG, a prominent LGBT NGO, withdrew the petition he had filed with the Supreme Court in 2013 challenging the antibuggery law. In dropping the suit, the petitioner cited threats against himself and his family.
In May the University of the West Indies fired the director of the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Regional Training Network--a leading authority on HIV/AIDS and a pioneer in infectious diseases--for testifying on behalf of a group of churches seeking to retain a law in Belize that criminalizes consensual sex between adult men. The dismissal came after a coordinated, year-long campaign by LGBT rights advocates and civil society groups, and it sparked a series of backlash demonstrations to protest what the organizers termed “the university’s cowardice for failing to uphold his right to free speech.” Local newspapers extensively covered both sides of the debate.
NGOs continued to report serious human rights abuses, including assault with deadly weapons, “corrective rape” of women accused of being lesbians, arbitrary detention, mob attacks, stabbings, harassment of gay and lesbian patients by hospital and prison staff, and targeted shootings of such persons. Stigma and intimidation were likely factors in preventing victims from reporting incidents of discrimination in employment, occupation, and housing. Although individual police officers expressed sympathy for the plight of the LGBT community and worked to prevent and resolve instances of abuse, NGOs reported the police force in general did not recognize the extent and seriousness of bullying and violence directed against members of the LGBT community and failed to investigate such incidents.
Prison wardens held male inmates considered gay in a separate facility for their protection. The method used for determining their sexual orientation was subjective and not regulated by the prison system, but inmates reportedly confirmed their sexual orientation for their own safety. There were reports of violence against gay inmates, perpetrated by the wardens and by other inmates, but few inmates sought recourse through the prison system.
J-FLAG, in cooperation with the Ministry of Health, trained approximately 60 health-care workers to sensitize them to LGBT patients. Most health-care workers were not familiar with the specific health concerns and issues of their LGBT patients, resulting in a lack of adequate care and treatment. Although the country has universal health care, members of the LGBT community relied mainly on the Jamaica AIDS Support for Life clinic, claiming that the staff in the government’s health system did not understand their needs and was unwelcoming. Training programs such as those conducted by J-FLAG, public advocacy by various NGOs and international donors, and increased focus by the government on the public health issue of HIV/AIDS increased the number of LGBT persons accessing the regular public sector health-care facilities.
Source: U.S. Department of State's  Human Rights Report
Human Rights Watch (2004): Hated to Death: Homophobia, Violence, and Jamaica’s HIV/AIDS Epidemic
International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, Heartland Alliance - Global Initiative for Sexuality and Human Rights, Jamaica Forum of Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG), Women for Women, AIDS-Free World (AFW), George Washington University Law School International Human Rights Clinic submission to the United Nations Human Rights Committee (2011): Human Rights Violations of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) People in Jamaica
Human Rights Watch (2014): Not Safe at Home: Violence and Discrimination Against LGBT People in JamaicaContract
Dexter Pottinger, Jamaica’s ‘Face of Pride,’ was murdered while he screamed for help from his neighbors. LGBT activists want to know why. In 1964, the murder of Kitty Genovese, who screamed for help while most of her neighbors did nothing, shocked the conscience of America. Last week, Dexter Pottinger was murdered in his home in Kingston, Jamaica. He, too, screamed for help, but his neighbors did nothing. He, like Kitty Genovese, was queer. Now, some friends of this talented and outspoken designer, dubbed “the face of Pride” in 2016, say that his neighbors did nothing because he was gay.
A gay LGBT activist has been found dead in his home in Jamaica. Dexter Pottinger’s body was found with multiple stab wounds earlier this week on Thursday. It is not yet known when Pottinger was killed because he was found decomposing. The death of the activist, who was also a fashion designer and model, has shaken the community. His brother found him after he failed to turn up to a scheduled shoot.
Happy independence day and Happy Pride, Jamaica! Many in Jamaica see it this way: This is a fight for freedom, respect, and justice. This is a continuation of all progressive Jamaican. This is a fight for Jamaica and all her inhabitants. Though it’s illegal to be gay in Jamaica, some in the LGBTI community there celebrated Pride regardless. Sexual acts between men are prohibited by law and punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Many reggae dancehall lyrics by big-name stars could be classified as antigay hate speech. Gay-bashing incidents are almost never prosecuted, with law enforcement, in most cases, looking the other way.
Canadian High Commissioner to Jamaica, Sylvain Fabi is urging Jamaicans to be on the right side of history by advancing inclusiveness towards the local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Speaking with The Sunday Gleaner following a courtesy call on the Montego Bay Chamber of Commerce and Industry last week, Fabi, whose tour of duty began in September 2015, said that the Canadian Government continues to support human-rights activities in the island, including efforts of the LGBT community. "We are doing activities with the LGBT group here in Jamaica and these are issues we have raised from time to time, in our private conversations with the local government," said Fabi. He suggested that history will be the judge of Jamaica's stance on the LGBT issue, while calling for "inclusiveness, not just for sexual orientation, but of all races, gender and age."
Queen’s Counsel Ian Wilkinson is now working feverishly to secure the release from jail of LGBT and women's rights activist Latoya Nugent. “I’m working on having the matter listed in the night court and I’m trying to get her bail by the police,” Wilkinson told Loop News Wednesday afternoon. Wilkinson’s efforts come even as Nugent was rushed to hospital Wednesday morning, reportedly suffering from shock. However, the attorney declined to discuss the hospitalisation with Loop News. Nugent was to appear in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court Wednesday morning but the matter wasn’t listed because the file didn’t arrive in time, hence Wilkinson’s effort to have the matter listed for the night court. Nugent, a high ranking executive of women advocacy groups WE-Change and Tambourine Army, was arrested and charged Tuesday night with three counts of using computer for malicious communications on allegations that she maligned several individuals as sexual predators on social media.
Nugent, who is the executive director at WE-Change and co-founder of the Tambourine Army, is being investigated for allegedly using a computer maliciously. Police said a call was made for Nugent to turn herself over to the authorities from Monday but she still has not complied. Nugent has even been mocking the police in a series of Facebook posts since the call was made. "Me feel disappointed dat fi a Counter Terrorism unit, de police cyah find me all now. Me not even hiding. Look how many people know which part me deh. Me Facebook location also on. Ah wah really a gwaan, lol!" she wrote on Monday evening.
The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) says stigma and discrimination are major barriers to health for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people throughout the Americas, including the Caribbean. “By universal health, we mean that everyone – irrespective of their socioeconomic background, ethnicity, gender or race – is covered by a well-financed, well-organised health system offering quality and comprehensive health services,” said PAHO Dominican-born director Dr Carissa F Etienne.
Jamaica’s leading organization advocating for the rights of LGBT people, celebrates 18 years of spectacular change-making work having been launched on International Human Rights Day Dec. 10, 1998. While many would ask, “What is there to celebrate?” citing continued incidences of homophobic and transphobic violence and harassment, we have seen, through the implementation of our programs over the years, a significant shift in the attitudes of Jamaicans toward the LGBT population.
Opinion: Maurice Tomlinson, a lawyer by profession is calling on fellow Anglicans to fight against anti-LGBTI abuses occurring at home and more importantly in the places where those abuses continue: namely Jamaica.
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