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Same Sex Marriage: forbidden in Jamaica:

Jamaica is a small country located in the Caribbean directly South of Florida and Cuba.

Many Jamaicans identify as Christian and claim that their anti-gay beliefs are based on religious grounds.

Past events:

1864: The Jamaican "Offences Against the Person Act" considers "buggery" (anal-intercourse), or "bestiality" (sex between a man and animal), to be crimes that are punishable by imprisonment for up to ten years, with hard labor. The law is still on the books, but is no longer enforced. It is being repealed. Sexual intercourse between two women has been, and remains, legal.

1962-JUL: Jamaica was the first country in the world to place a ban on same-sex marriage into their Constitution. This was done 39 years before the Netherlands became the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage.

2001: A poll found that 96 percent of Jamaicans were opposed to any legislation that would legalise homosexual relations.

2004: The Civil Service Staff Orders of 2004  protect Jamaican civil servants from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

According to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Jamaica has "no law which prevents discrimination against an individual on the basis of his or her or their sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. There is no legislation addressing hate crimes in Jamaica."

2005: The European Parliament in 2005 passed a resolution calling on Jamaica to repeal its "antiquated and discriminatory sodomy laws and to actively combat widespread homophobia."

e Magazine called Jamaica "the most homophobic place on Earth." This comment is still widely known.

2009: Ernest Smith, a Labour Party member of Parliament, stated during a parliamentary debate that "homosexual activities seem to have taken over" Jamaica. He described homosexuals as "abusive" and "violent", and called for a stricter law outlawing homosexual conduct between men that would impose sentences of up to life in prison

2012: The federal government said that it : "... is committed to the equal and fair treatment of its citizens, and affirms that any individual whose rights are alleged to have been infringed has a right to seek redress."

The government also claimed, accurately, that "there is no legal discrimination against persons on the grounds of their sexual orientation." However, sexual activity between men is still a crime under the Act of 1864 that is still on the books.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 2012 said that "discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression is widespread throughout Jamaica, and ... discrimination against those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex ... communities is entrenched in Jamaican State institutions. Those who are not heterosexual or cisgender face political and legal stigmatisation, police violence, an inability to access the justice system, as well as intimidation, violence, and pressure in their homes and communities."

Human Rights Watch said in 2012 that because of homophobia, "human rights defenders advocating the rights of LGBT people are not safe in Jamaica."

2013: The Human Rights Watch conducted a survey of 71 LGBT Jamaicans and found that a majority of them had been victims of homophobic violence. Non-violent discrimination was even more pervasive.

2015: The first gay pride event in Jamaica occurred when 15 LGBT individuals met in Kingston's Emancipation Park. It was organized by JFLAG and is known as PRIDEJA, the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays. It is now a week-long event used to highlight the island's efforts to tackle discrimination and hate against the LGBT community. Kingston's mayor and the Jamaican Justice Minister have publicly supported the week-long pride activities

2017: The gay pride week celebrations have continued and have expanded to include 1,200 people in 2017.

2018: The UK newspaper, "The Guardian" said that Jamaica was "no longer 'the most homophobic place on Earth" It is "... increasingly adopting a more liberal outlook."

2019: The leaders of the two largest political parties in Jamaica --Prime Minister Andrew Holness of the Jamaica Labour Party, and Peter Phillips, the leader of the opposition People's National Party stated their opposition to the legalization of same-sex marriage within the country.

Two gays, Gareth Henry and Simone Edwards, had launched a human rights case with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights durng 2012. The two argued that the law against “buggery” and "gross indecency" – originally imposed by the British colonial administration in the nineteenth century – violate their rights and legitimize violence towards the LGBT community in Jamaica. Both had been forced to flee Jamaica following violent personal attacks. The Commission's ruling in their favor on 2019-SEP sets a precedent for LGBT rights across the Caribbean and is the commission’s first finding that laws that criminalize LGBT people violate international law.

Téa Braun, the director of the Human Dignity Trust, who represented Henry and Edwards, said it was a major victory. She said.

"It is a highly significant step forward that must now accelerate the repeal of these stigmatizing and discriminatory laws."

During 2019-OCT, the Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI) estimated that the anti-gay laws in Jamaica were costing the country about $11 billion in U.S. funds annually.

Overview: Wikipedia has an extensive review of LGBT rights in Jamaica

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Written: 2021-MAR-28.
Author: B.A. Robinson

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