Government to Report on the state of "Buggery" Laws in 2012

Published: November 4, 2011

Kingston, Jamaica:

Jamaica has been requested by the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee to take
specific actions to protect and promote the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender
(LGBT) Jamaicans and to report on the steps taken in 2012.

In expressing its concern about the continued discrimination and of acts of violence being
perpetrated against members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, the
Committee has requested that the government take steps to amend the buggery law and
provide protection for LGBT persons and human rights defenders. Specifically, they
recommended that the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms be reviewed to prohibit
discrimination on the grounds of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity and provide an
update in one year.

In its statement, the Committee has strongly recommended that Jamaica ‘… send a clear
message that it does not tolerate any form of harassment, discrimination or violence against
persons for their sexual orientation, and should ensure that individuals, who incite violence
against homosexuals, are investigated, prosecuted and properly sanctioned.’

According to Dane Lewis, J-FLAG’s Executive Director, “this is unprecedented and sends a
strong message that the continued abuse perpetrated against persons because they are gay,
lesbian, bisexual or transgender and the impunity for those carrying out such abuse is an
urgent matter that must be addressed by our parliament.” Acts of violence and discrimination
based on sexual orientation and gender identity is a major issue of concern to J-FLAG and its

The recommendations were part of a list in the concluding observations on the third periodic
report on human rights submitted by the government and civil society groups. While the
Committee commended Jamaica for the legislative and institutional steps taken over the past
10 years to protect and promote human rights, it had a number of concerns on matters that are
in contravention of the principles of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
(ICCPR), which Jamaica ratified on October 3, 1975.

Among other issues on which the committee made recommendations was the establishment of
an independent national human rights institution, addressing issues relating to the welfare of
children, extrajudicial killings, state of prisons and detention centres and questions around
corporal punishment.

In light of this development and the recent announcement by Britain of the intention to cut aid
to countries with anti-buggery laws, J-FLAG is urging the new Prime Minister, Hon. Andrew
Holness, to show he respects the rights of all Jamaicans, to include protection for lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender persons from discrimination and violence in our legislation.

“While J-FLAG does not support the UK’s proposed foreign aid cuts, it is clear that as a country,
we can no longer ignore the suffering of thousands of Jamaicans who identify as lesbian, gay,
bisexual and transgender. We invite the government, in light of frustrations with our poor
human rights record, to dialogue so we can work together to develop possible actions to
protect and promote the rights of all Jamaicans ” Lewis said.

It is clear that as a country we can no longer ignore the suffering of hundreds of thousands of
Jamaicans who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. J-FLAG stands ready to support the
government in demonstrating its commitments to protect and promote the human rights
of all Jamaicans, regardless of their socio-economic status, sexual orientation, health status,
disability, work, and political and religious persuasions.
Dane Lewis
P.O. Box 1152, Kingston 8, Jamaica
T: (876) 978-8988 | M: (876) 875 2328 | F: (876) 946-3244
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