Seven out of every 10 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Jamaican has considered leaving the country. The statistic, taken from the study The Developmental Cost of Homophobia: The Case of Jamaica, is not at all surprising given the challenges many face. Since 2010, I have met countless LGBT Jamaicans - young and old, rich and poor, employed and unemployed, and from country or town whose dream is simply to leave the country to find better and eke out a living and live without the fear of being harassed and harmed physically. I've also met quite a number of LGBT Jamaicans who sought refuge in Canada, The Netherlands, England and the United States. Their disillusionment is most palpable but, sadly, no one seems eager to do anything about it. Like many others, they have grown weary, hopeless and discontented about the lack of opportunities afforded to them to live their fullest potential.
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
United States Baptist minister Steven Anderson has blasted Jamaican male preachers for allowing women to move into leadership positions in some local churches. The Reverend Karen Kirlew will be sworn in as the president of the Jamaica Baptist Union (JBU), the first woman to lead that denomination in Jamaica. She will join the Reverend Christine Gooden Benguche, who recently became the first woman to be elected as the president of the Methodist Church in Jamaica, and the Reverend Phyllis Smith Seymour, who assumed the presidency of the Moravian Church in Jamaica last year. Anderson, the controversial 'hate preacher' who was prevented from entering the island last month to preach the gospel, says the churches which are allowing women to lead them are not in keeping with biblical principles.
Human rights activists, online campaigners — and many other Jamaicans — were pleased with the government's recent decision to deny entry to American fundamentalist pastor, Steven Anderson. While concerns regarding free speechlinger, it was not just the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) lobby that expressed satisfaction at the decision to keep out Anderson, who has a reputation for extreme homophobia, and preaches a volatile stance against homosexuality. News of the ban (Jamaica is the fifth country to have done so) broke via the change.org website on January 29, 2018. The petition to deny Anderson entry to the island, which was started by a Jamaican gay rights activist, had garnered 38,682 signatures by that date.
Steven Anderson, pastor from the Faithful World Baptist Church who says gay people should be stoned to death, denied entry. Jamaica has banned a Holocaust-denying pastor from Arizona who has called for gay people to be stoned death, after outcry from activists on the island. Steven Anderson, from the Faithful World Baptist Church in Tempe, said he was about to board a flight to Kingston when he was informed he would not be allowed into Jamaica. Anderson, who once prayed for the death of Barack Obama, has previously been denied entry to South Africa, Canada, the United Kingdom and Botswana.
Gay sex could be about to be legalized in eight Caribbean countries.The potentially momentous ruling would come about through Trinidad-born LGBT rights activist Jason Jones, who is taking his country to court in an effort to decriminalize homosexuality. If the campaign is successful, it would also make gay sex legal in Antigua, Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Kitts, Saint Lucia and Saint Vincent. As it currently stands, men convicted of penetrative sex with another man can be imprisoned for 25 years, while any other gay or lesbian sexual acts can result in a five-year prison term.
Jamaican officials are facing international pressure to either block or monitor an anti-gay American pastor who plans to visit the Caribbean island country later this month. Pastor Steven Anderson of the Phoenix-based Faithful World Baptist Church announced his forthcoming visit to Jamaica on a "Mission Trip" January 28 through February 4, via a YouTube video in late December, reported the Southern Poverty Law Center, the anti-hate watch-dog organization.
A Jamaican activist is petitioning his government to ban an anti-LGBT American pastor from entering the country. A petition that Jay John posted to Change.org notes Steven Anderson has previously said gay men should be stoned to death. The petition also notes Anderson has celebrated the 2016 massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., and has spoken against women’s rights. Anderson is a pastor at the Faithful Word Baptist Church in Tempe, Ariz. His church’s website says Anderson will be in Jamaica from Jan. 29-Feb. 3 for a “Missions Trip.” “Folks like this set us back in our discussion surrounding LGBT rights as a country,” John told the Washington Blade on Tuesday.
These Jamaican LGBTIs found an amazing way to build bridges – by painting the local police station. Gay sex is illegal in Jamaica. And the police station in question has a particularly painful history for one of the organizers of the painting party. In 2010, Jamaican gay lawyer Maurice Tomlinson received an email death threat. The cowardly stranger threatened to kill him if he kept advocating for LGBTI human rights. Tomlinson often got threats like this. But this time, the nature of it was more immediate and vulgar. So he had to take it seriously.
"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.
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.
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