also see from Gay Jamaica Watch: Independence Skewed & Still No Justice at 52 and Parliament seeks submissions for sexual offences bills
Originally prepared by Melanie Nathan
NEW YORK – On the 52nd anniversary of Jamaica’s independence from the United Kingdom, human rights activists renew their calls for the repeal of that country’s buggery law, which effectively criminalizes lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) life. Violation of the colonial-era law carries a sentence of up to 10 years imprisonment with hard labor. However, the consequences reverberate throughout Jamaican society, helping to fuel widespread anti-LGBT violence.
The U.S. Department of State, the Organization of American States, the United Nations Human Rights Council, and Amnesty International have condemned the history of violence and discrimination against LGBT individuals in Jamaica and called for repeal of the buggery law.
Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller has failed to act to repeal the law despite indications during her 2011 campaign that she would work with the LGBT community. Since then, activists have filed two suits against the law.
In June, thousands of Jamaicans rallied in support of keeping the law and against the “homosexual agenda” after the government had been reportedly discussing the possibility of repeal. Few voices openly favoring repeal have been heard within Jamaica.
Several activists at today’s protest have either been forced to flee to Jamaica or have family and friends under threat there. Dwayne Brown, founder of Jamaica Anti-Homophobia Stand, said, “From the safety of our adopted sanctuary countries, we demand an end to the grave injustices perpetrated against our LGBT brothers and sisters. Every day, they must fight for their lives.”
“Jamaica’s ‘Emancipendence’ celebration is an appropriate time to reflect on the realization of the dream of inclusion captured in our motto ‘Out of Many One People,’” stated Maurice Tomlinson, a prominent human rights lawyer forced to flee Jamaica. “We are standing today, as Jamaicans in the Diaspora along with our allies, to affirm that ALL Jamaicans are citizens and deserve the full rights of our citizenship.”
Jason Latty, President of the Caribbean Alliance for Equality, said, “It is imperative for the survival and vitality of the Jamaican people that we move swiftly to repeal the buggery law. My organization is outraged about the increasing acts of terror directed against LGBT Jamaicans. A nation that does not respect the life and dignity of its people is a nation on the decline.”
Edwin Sesange, Director of the Out and Proud Diamond Group, stated, “This is the time for Jamaica to practice love for all. The buggery law should be scrapped immediately before more lives are lost. The government of Jamaica and its citizens should work towards achieving equality and justice for all its citizens, including LGBTI people.”
“In Jamaica, people masquerading under the guise of ‘religious’ leaders have carried the banner for hatred and violence directed against LGBTI people,” said Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Senior Pastor of Metropolitan Community Church of New York and Executive Director of the Global Justice Institute. “Ending the buggery law will help Jamaica celebrate the diversity of God’s creation and honor the value, dignity, and worth of all life.”
“We plan to hold internationally coordinated protests every Independence Day until all Jamaicans can be considered free at last,” concluded Dwayne Brown.
Protests were also held in London- attended by Edwin Sesange, Director of the Out and Proud Diamond Group.
Question is are some of the cases being put forward as homophobic actually are?
Crisis communication is so important but one had to wonder what is the use of such protest when we are not sure if the politicians are being reached in private deliberations with some effect as I am sure the folks on the other sides are also using diplomatic pressure to bear as well.
This protest also seems to be going against the JFLAG turn on the call for a full repeal instead to a more sensible middle road of decriminalization seeing that rape is not covered under the present structure. But as usual the late in the day turn by the goodly J has gone unheard in the noise following the June 29th antigay protests by religious groups.
see this post on the JFLAG change in position: JFLAG Clarifies its Agenda
(their actual position actually changed in 2012)
The narrative for antigay groups such as the recently formed Jamaica CAUSE and Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship or Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society is a full repeal and that is what they are campaigning on via public advocacy, so what are Maurice Tomlinson et al saying to the world that we want to continue a fight unclear as to what we actually want or is this another image suring tactic disguised as protest for rights? We need to be credible in these things and stop the fiddling around.
The aims of the struggle has to be specific and not one group saying one thing or going in one direction while others are on a frolic of their own. As for the quoted sections by the author the buggery law does not in effect criminalizes LGBT life as she puts it but an act as carried out by some gay, bisexual and even heterosexual persons, this vagueness as well in the public advocacy and foreign support though welcomed sometimes just seek to could the thrust and plant all other kinds of ideas in the minds of the public including anti gay voices.
Peace and tolerance