In the last six months, more than fifty men and women who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual have faced various human rights violations in Jamaica.
According to the LGBT group J-FLAG, “Jamaicans continue to experience human rights violations at the hands of their family, friends, neighbours, landlord, police or mobs because of their sexual orientation”.
From January to June 2011, fifty-one incidents, including mob attacks, physical abuse, home evictions, and discrimination were reported with forty-seven of these meted out to males, said the organisation.
It noted that young people, 18 to 29 years, continue to be the main victims of violence based on sexual orientation. Young people were the victims in more than 30 of the 51 reports.
“On average, J-FLAG has documented between 30 and 40 cases annually over the past three years, but we have seen an increase in the number of reports which shows that homophobia based harassment and discrimination continues because of the lack of protection of the human rights of homosexuals living in Jamaica by the state,” said Dane Lewis, Executive Director at J-FLAG.
“There is a Policy Statement on violence against persons based on their sexual orientation, agreed by Cabinet on April 7, 2008, to support this, but there is no hate crime law,” Corbin Gordon, J-FLAG’s Programme & Advocacy Coordinator highlighted.
In a communiquÃ©, Prime Minister Golding said that the government’s position has been that violence against gays and lesbians should be condemned, discouraged, investigated, persecuted and punished with vigour and determination.
However, Lewis responded that “Action needs to be demonstrated beyond that of a policy statement if we are to achieve our national vision to ensure that Jamaican society is secure, cohesive and just”.
Jamaica has been described as one of the most homophobic places on earth by Time magazine thanks to hate speech and violent attacks against LGBT individuals.
On Tuesday, J-FLAG responded with outrage to a statement by Police Senior Superintendent Fitz Bailey, on TVJ’s Prime Time News, that young homosexual men are the main perpetrators of organised crimes in Jamaica.
“This is an irresponsible and incendiary pronouncement, coming from a senior police office. Furthermore, this broad brushing feeds directly into assumptions about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, an already marginalised and vulnerable group, and perpetuates social prejudice, inequality, harassment and violence,” commented the organisation.
Under Jamaican law, which dates back to British colonial rule, sexual acts between men are punishable with up to ten years in jail, although this is seldom enforced among consenting adults.