2012 was another challenging year but there are a number of noteworthy achievements. Jamaicans—government and citizens—continue to show we are able to recognize and respect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, regardless of our differences.
The 2012 Boxill Survey on Homophobia showed that one in five Jamaicans respects LGBT people. Additionally, one in five would support a Charter of Rights that includes sexual orientation as a ground for non-discrimination.
Here are our top ten achievements for the year 2012:
In an unprecedented move, the administration of the University of Technology (UTech) Jamaica has shown great leadership following the homophobic beating of an alleged gay student by other students and security guards on November 1, 2012. The university has undertaken a number of initiatives to address the matter, including the development of a plan of action for strengthening tolerance and respect for diversity among its various populations. It has held public discussions regarding tolerance and has developed diversity-training courses for security personnel to begin this year.
The Ministry of National Security (MNS) has agreed to conduct a study (this year) on perceptions of safety and security within the LGBT community. The Ministry has expanded the 2013 Jamaica National Crime Victimization Survey (JNCVS) to include questions about crimes believed to result from assumptions about the sexual orientation of victims.
J-FLAG continued to strengthen its relationship with the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), including the Office of the Police Commissioner. This has led to an increase in LGBT persons reporting homophobic crimes and harassment to the police. The JCF has also named sexual orientation as a protected identity in the Police Ethics and Diversity Policy. Additionally, J-FLAG is part of a taskforce commissioned by the Police Commissioner to review issues within the St Andrew Central police division and identify and develop strategies to address them.
About a third of the population—over 900,0000 Jamaicans—believe the government is not doing enough to protect LGBT people from violence and discrimination.
An unprecedented constitutional legal challenge launched by human rights lawyer Maurice Tomlinson (of AIDS Free World) against Television Jamaica (TVJ), Public Broadcasting Corporation (PBCJ) and CVM for their refusal to air an advertisement promoting the humanity of LGBT people. This is the first use of the (new) Charter of Rights and Fundamental Freedoms to access the media.
Beenie Man (Moses David) in a very bold move apologised for anti-gay music he produced and performed in the past. Later in the year, international reggae artiste, Diana King, came out as Jamaica’s first lesbian entertainer. To top it off LIME canceled its school campaign with Potential Kidd as a result of national outcry over lyrics, which glorified (and promoted) sexual violence as better than being gay.
Research by the Ministry of Health shows that more gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men (MSM) are accessing health facilities for services related to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Twenty public health professionals from Kingston & St Andrew, St James and St Ann completed a nine-module capacity building training hosted by J-FLAG to better provide services to the LGBT community.
J-FLAG hosted its first public forum on homophobic bullying and human rights on May 17, 2012 at which the Minister of Education, Hon. Ronald Thwaites was the keynote speaker. Other government ministries were represented.
In December 2012, Minister of Health, Hon. Dr. Fenton Ferguson highlighted at some events that the buggery law should be amended for Jamaica to better facilitate the rights and development of LGBT Jamaicans.
Increased media output on human rights and LGBT issues, including the launch of Anti-Gay Fact Check (AGFC), television and radio interviews. There were also a number of media exposes on the situation of homelessness among gay, bisexual and transgender Jamaicans.
These achievements remind us that regardless of the colour of our skin, race, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, geographical location and other priceless unique qualities that we are all one people — we are one Jamaica— and we can respect everyone.
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