Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller
Two gay Jamaicans are challenging their country’s colonial-era ‘buggery’ laws that make same-sex sex illegal and perpetuate prejudice against LGBT people, reported the Guardian on Friday.
The case has been lodged with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and argues that three clauses of the Offences Against Persons Act of 1864 are unconstitutional and promote homophobia.
According to Section 76 of the act, a maximum sentence of 10 years can be issued for committing the crime of “buggery”.
A possible victory through the Commission, however, will be largely symbolic as Jamaica is not a full member and any ruling in the matter will not be binding.
Nevertheless, activists believe that if their position is vindicated by the body it will send a strong signal to the Jamaican government and the largely anti-gay Caribbean region.
The action is being spearheaded by LGBT rights group Jamaica Forum of Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-Flag) and is backed by UK-based Human Dignity Trust.
J-Flag has documented on average between 30 and 40 cases of violence related to the victims’ sexual orientation annually over the past three years. According to the group, this year alone, there have been nine murders of LGBT people in Jamaica.
Earlier this year, before taking office, Prime Minister Miller said that she was open to reviewing the criminalisation of homosexuality in her country but has not yet made any moves in this regard.
In September, hundreds of Jamaicans took part in a march in the capital, Kingston, to condemn homosexuality and signed a petition calling on Simpson Miller to ensure that homosexuality remains illegal.