Jamaica, Caribbean

LGBT rights in Jamaica are dominated by the prohibition of sexual acts between men. Sexual acts between women are legal, by virtue of the absence of any reference to them in law. Sex between men is punishable with up to ten years jail. Social leaders in Jamaica accuse international groups of meddling in domestic affairs. They defend laws against homosexuality as upholding Christian values. Neither one of the two major political parties in Jamaica have expressed any official support for gay rights. Verbal and physical violence, ranging from beatings to brutal armed attacks to murder, are widespread. For many, there is no sanctuary from such abuse.

Men who have sex with men and women who have sex with women reported being driven from their homes and their towns by neighbors who threatened to kill them if they remained, forcing them to abandon their possessions and leaving many homeless. Jamaican Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) is the only LGBT rights organization in Jamaica. The organization was created in 1998 and operates underground and anonymously. In June 2004 founding member and the public face of J-FLAG Brian Williamson was stabbed to death in his home. A recent poll showed that 96% of Jamaicans were opposed to any move that would seek to legalize homosexual relations.

 

News & Reports:

 

Growing up gay in the Caribbean, I was in constant survival mode

On an island where everything from pop music to the church demonises your sexuality, you police your every move It is a strange thing growing up in an island called “Little England”. You inherit the legal system, the educational system and even the old English mannerisms and words. But you also inherit something far more… Read more »

Problem with men who have sex with men?

…Ask yourself: What would Christ do? The important matters of individual and public health are seldom discussed from the perspective of culture, society’s history, or religious norms. Yet, the social determinants of health include all these factors, in addition to matters such as disease vectors and the social issues surrounding communicable and non-communicable diseases. When… Read more »

Stop Calling Jamaica “the Most Homophobic Place on Earth”

In April 2006, Time magazine branded Jamaica with an epithet it has yet to shake: “The Most Homophobic Place on Earth.” The article mentioned the murders of two of the island’s leading gay activists and detailed acts of mob violence, including the brutal bludgeoning of a gay man at the hands of assailants who included… Read more »

The number of Jamaicans who ‘hate’ gays has risen over 20% in four years

The number of people in Jamaica who “hate or reject” homosexual relationships has risen over 20% since 2011, a new survey has revealed. The 2015 Awareness, Attitude and Perception Survey asked employers, politicians and members of the public a number of questions in regards to same-sex relationships between June and July last year. Commissioned for… Read more »

Jamaican gay rights activist challenges law against sex between men

Gay rights campaigner and attorney Maurice Tomlinson brings rare legal challenge to the Caribbean island’s anti-sodomy laws A Jamaican gay rights activist has brought a rare legal challenge to the Caribbean island’s anti-sodomy laws that criminalize consensual sex between men, according to the Canadian advocacy group he works for. Gay rights campaigner and attorney Maurice… Read more »

‘My selfish reasons for fighting Jamaican homophobia’

LGBTI rights activist Maurice Tomlinson is back in Jamaica this week, preparing for a hearing at the Caribbean Court of Justice in connection with his case challenging the ban against gays entering Belize and Trinidad & Tobago. That case is just one instance of his work combating anti-gay laws and homophobia in the Caribbean, particularly… Read more »

On Being Queer in the Caribbean

Tallahassee, Fla. — “Listen. Dead people never stop talking.” So begins Marlon James’s novel “A Brief History of Seven Killings,” which last month won the Man Booker Prize. The statement has a particular resonance both in the book and outside it. In March, Mr. James, who was raised in Jamaica but now lives in the… Read more »

On Being Queer in the Caribbean

Tallahassee, Fla. — “Listen. Dead people never stop talking.” So begins Marlon James’s novel “A Brief History of Seven Killings,” which last month won the Man Booker Prize. The statement has a particular resonance both in the book and outside it. In March, Mr. James, who was raised in Jamaica but now lives in the… Read more »

On Being Queer in the Caribbean

Tallahassee, Fla. — “Listen. Dead people never stop talking.” So begins Marlon James’s novel “A Brief History of Seven Killings,” which last month won the Man Booker Prize. The statement has a particular resonance both in the book and outside it. In March, Mr. James, who was raised in Jamaica but now lives in the… Read more »

Comment: Jamaica’s first LGBT Pride shows how far the country has come

Writing for PinkNews, David Lowis shares his experiences of last week’s Jamaican Gay Pride celebrations and how the tide is changing for the country’s LGBT community. Emancipation Park in Kingston, Jamaica, August 1. A crowd of around 40 LGBT people, activists and allies has gathered, still on a high from the Pride pre-launch party the… Read more »

Jamaica to hold its first gay pride celebration in the island’s capital

Weeklong event that was previously almost unthinkable in a Caribbean country long described as the one of the globe’s most hostile places to homosexuality Jamaica’s LGBT community is holding its first gay pride celebration in the island’s capital, a weeklong event that was previously almost unthinkable in a Caribbean country long described as the one… Read more »

Mayor of Jamaican capital to speak at Pride event

The mayor of the Jamaican capital on Friday said she has “a responsibility” to represent all of her city’s residents, including those who are LGBT. “I come from the point of view that I, as mayor, have a responsibility to all the individuals of Kingston,” Angela Brown-Burke told the Washington Blade during a telephone interview.… Read more »

Progress in Jamaica toward ‘world as it should be’

Jamaican lesbian activist Angeline Jackson, executive director of Quality Citizenship Jamaica (QCJ), sees signs of progress in the fight against homophobia in Jamaica, as she explained in a commentary for Time magazine. See below for excerpts from the commentary, titled “Is ‘The Most Homophobic Place on Earth’ Turning Around?” Attitudes toward civil rights in Jamaica… Read more »

Death threats won’t stop Jamaican LGBT advocate

Why I sued Belize and Trinidad and Tobago for banning gays from entering those countries (Editor’s note: Maurice Tomlinson is one of the best-known LGBT rights advocates from Jamaica. His activism over the years have brought him death threats, so he now lives in Toronto with his Canadian husband. He continues to fight for LGBT… Read more »

7 battlefields: The fight for LGBTI rights in the Caribbean

A recap of recent gains, losses and ongoing battles over LGBTI rights in seven Caribbean nations (Guyana, Jamaica, Trinidad, Belize, Barbados, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands), with help from coverage in the Caribbean IRN Blog of the International Resource Network: Areas With Anti-Gay Laws Guyana U.N. action: During Guyana’s recent Universal Periodic Review before the… Read more »

Jamaican Parliament to review anti-gay Sexual Offences Act

The Jamaican Parliament is set to review the country’s Sexual Offences Act – which stipulates penalties against same-sex sexual activity. A joint select committee will begin the task of scrutinising the law on Wednesday 17 September. The Jamaican criminal code has long prohibited sex between men through the colonial era buggery law, but the 2009… Read more »

Don’t Blame Yesterday’s Colonialism for Today’s Homophobia

Last Sunday, 25,000 Jamaicans rallied in support of their country’s explicitly homophobic anti-sodomy law, comparing homosexuality to rape and murder and arguing that anti-gay laws are “righteous and Godly.” Jamaica’s anti-sodomy law, as many Western news sources are eager to remind us, is a “colonial leftover,” a “holdover” from Britain’s bygone rule over the island.… Read more »

Risking everything to advance LGBT rights in Jamaica

San Diego, California – Angeline Jackson wishes she could bottle up Hillcrest and The San Diego LGBT Community Center, then uncork them in Jamaica. Her homeland is noted for its laid-back spirit … and its rampant homophobia. The U.S. State Department noted in a 2012 report regarding Jamaica that “homophobia was widespread in the country.”… Read more »

Why do so many Jamaicans hate gay people?

Our research shows dancehall is a strong predictor of homophobia – but at last some Jamaicans are saying boom bye bye to bigotry Jamaica has a bad reputation for anti-gay prejudice. This small island in the Caribbean has become notorious not only for its anti-gay laws, political rhetoric and murders, but also for its broad… Read more »

New Campaign Aims to Help Jamaican LGBT Community

In honor of International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, Human Rights First unveiled a new campaign. Human Rights First is embarking on a major endeavor in Jamaica, trying to make the Caribbean island a safer place for LGBT people. Last month, the organization announced a new campaign to combat homophobia and anti-LGBT discrimination in the… Read more »

Leading Jamaican Newspaper Endorses Marriage Equality

“It is unassailable logic” that a ban on same-sex couples marrying “represents an assault on the principle of equality of people,” via the Jamaica Gleaner. One of Jamaica’s leading daily newspapers called for the elimination of the country’s ban on marriage equality and its law criminalizing sodomy in an editorial published Thursday. The Jamaica Gleaner… Read more »

PJ Urges Tolerance – Former Prime Minister Calls For Understanding In Gay Debate

Former Prime Minister PJ Patterson is urging that the debate over Jamaica’s buggery law be framed within the context of current world trends and the realities that various differences exist in the society. Patterson, addressing a Rotary Club of Spanish Town meeting at the Police Officers’ Club in St Andrew Tuesday night, said both sides… Read more »

New Effort To Halt Spread Of HIV In The Caribbean

Kingston, Jamaica (AP) — A handful of sex workers sit on discarded cardboard along a filthy sewer channel, sharing food and razors to shave their legs and faces as they prepare for the night’s labor on the streets of Jamaica’s capital. Gay sex and prostitution is illegal in Jamaica, and LGBT people who sell sex… Read more »

LGBT tolerance growing in Jamaica, push to repeal of anti-gay law

Prince Jones says he will never go back to Jamaica, not even to visit. The 25-year-old, who is gay and uses a pseudonym to protect himself and his family, grew up in Kingston and recalls how he was repeatedly harassed over his sexuality before moving to the United States in 2012. The plight of gays… Read more »

Gay-rights community fights to advance cause in Latin America and Caribbean

United Nations – Two years ago, a gay couple and their friend vacationing in St. Lucia were tied up, beaten, threatened with knives and guns, and told that they would be killed if they tried to escape. The men later freed themselves, climbed out a window and hiked down the mountain to a friend’s house.… Read more »

Why Some LGBT Youths In Jamaica Are Forced To Call A Sewer Home

Young LGBT Jamaicans are chased out of their communities by family and neighbors using vigilante justice to enforce the country’s laws against homosexual conduct. Now police are trying to push them out of their shelter of last resort. Kingston, Jamaica — Around 11 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 1, police officers led by Cmdr. Christopher Murdock… Read more »

Jamaican police seize, burn donations to LGBT youths

Jamaican police on Dec. 1 seized and burned food and clothing that concerned citizens had donated to LGBT youths who have been living in the sewers of New Kingston, activists say. The youths moved into the sewers after being evicted first from their families’ homes and then from abandoned buildings. The donations were part of… Read more »

Panos to launch MSM publication today

Panos Caribbean — A publication documenting the stories of 32 Jamaican men who have sex with men (MSM) will be released today, Monday, September 30 at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in Kingston. The publication, titled Speaking Out! Voices of Jamaican MSM, highlights the issues that affect MSM, including high levels of stigma, discrimination and homophobia,… Read more »

Another homophobic attack in Jamaica

At around 11 p.m. on the evening of September 21, 2013, a young gay Jamaican man was walking home after visiting a friend in the community of Newlands, Portmore, St. Catherine. Without warning he was set upon and stoned by a mob of men shouting “Ketch di battyboy” [catch the faggot], “Kill the battyman,” “Hol’… Read more »

Comment: With all eyes on anti-gay Russia, there are three countries with a shocking need for coverage

Paul Canning looks critically at media coverage of the LGBT situation in Russia, highlighting other areas around the globe where hate crimes and violence have also soared, yet where media coverage is still minimal. It’s Russia, Russia, Russia when it comes to ‘foreign gay news’ these days. But it’s a much bigger and badder gay… Read more »

Visibility is liberty

Outside of this country’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community, few might be familiar with the name of Maurice Tomlinson, a gay Jamaican activist and attorney who is fighting regionally for LGBT people. But if Tomlinson’s lawyer, Lord Anthony Gifford QC, who won the case against the anti-sodomy law in Northern Ireland, gets leave… Read more »

Jamaica TV must not ban gay adverts, Supreme Court hears

A landmark case has begun in Jamaica with gay activist Maurice Tomlinson demanding the constitutional right to screen an ad promoting ‘love and respect’ Banning a gay campaign advert from being televised in Jamaica breaches the constitution, judges have been told. Gay activist Maurice Tomlinson is taking action against three Jamaican TV stations who refused… Read more »

The Struggle for Gay Rights Vs. Jamaican TV: The Court Case Begins

Unprecedented case deals with constitutional right to freedom of expression, addresses systemic homophobia Kingston, Jamaica — Freedom of expression is at the core of a major constitutional challenge using Jamaica’s new Charter of Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. From May 27-31, AIDS-Free World’s Maurice Tomlinson will put those rights to the test against three of Jamaica’s… Read more »

Javed Jaghai, Gay Jamaican Man, Set To Challenge Country’s Anti-Sodomy Laws

A gay Jamaican man is planning to “aggressively agitate for change” to his country’s anti-sodomy law after allegedly being kicked out of his home because of his sexual orientation. As the Washington Blade is reporting, AIDS-Free World filed a Feb. 7 complaint with the Jamaica Supreme Court on behalf of local lesbian, gay, bisexual and… Read more »

Gay student challenges Jamaica’s anti-sodomy law

A gay student from Jamaica is set to challenge the legality of the country’s anti-sodomy law Javed Jaghai, a student and Jamaican gay rights activist has initiated a challenge to the country’s anti-sodomy law. AIDS-Free World, a Jamaican advocacy charity, filed a complaint against the law with Jamaica’s Supreme Court on behalf of Jaghai on… Read more »

Jamaica – Top 10 LGBT Achievements in 2012

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… Read more »

Human rights group worried at “alarming level of violence in Jamaica”

Washington D.C., United States,- The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) says it is concerned at the alarming level of violence in Jamaica that has been affecting all sectors of society for many years and has led to progressive deterioration of the human rights situation. In its “Report on the Situation of Human Rights in… Read more »

Jamaica hints a law banning gay discrimination may be passed

Jamaican Minister of Justice hints a law banning anti-gay discrimination may be introduced due to pressures to accept ‘Western’ human rights In response to a report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) criticizing Jamaica for its abuse of its LGBT citizens, the country’s Minister of Justice hinted that an anti-discrimination legislation, inclusive of… Read more »

2013 David Kato Vision and Voice Award

AIDS-Free World’s Maurice Tomlinson, recipient of the 2012 David Kato Vision and Voice Award, delivered this speech in Johannesburg, South Africa, at the ceremony honoring the 2013 recipient of the award. Access changes attitudes. This is true of any civil rights struggle. If you are not at the table, you can’t challenge the hateful rhetoric… Read more »

Activist to sue Trinidad and Tobago entry ban on gays

A gay Jamaican activist is suing the government of Trinidad and Tobago over its entry ban against homosexuals Maurice Tomlinson, an LGBT advocate is to challenge Trinidad and Tobago’s entry ban on gays in an international court. Tomilnson, a Jamaican national and legal advisor for the NGO AIDS-Free World has been invited to give two… Read more »