Human rights watchdog say Jamaica is breaking international law over gay sex

Human rights watchdog say Jamaica is breaking international law over gay sex
Party-goers enjoy Pride on the beach in Montego Bay, Jamaica.

Jamaica has been told it is breaching international law and human rights by continuing to persecute LGBT+ people.

The scathing report comes from leading watchdog, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). The organization sits alongside the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in imposing standards on members of the Organization of American States.

The report says Jamaica is violating the American Convention on Human Rights, which it voluntarily signed in 1977.

In particular, it lambasts the country for criminalizing same-sex intercourse between me with up to 10 years in prison with hard labor. It also criticized the law for punishing ‘any act of gross indecency’ – even a kiss – with up to two years prison.

Sarah Bosha, Legal and Research Advisor, HIV and Human Rights at AIDS-Free World, testified at the hearings last November. She has welcomed the new report:

‘This report is a resounding victory for social justice and a necessary repudiation of homophobia. The IACHR’s findings and recommendations can lead to fundamental changes in public policy throughout the Caribbean.

‘The 1864 law, a relic of colonialism, is instrumental in the spread of the HIV epidemic in the Caribbean region. It drives LGBTI people underground and away from essential HIV testing and treatment services. Now it is up to Jamaica to repeal the law.’

Creating an ‘entirely avoidable public health crisis’

One example in the report shows how the law prevents healthcare workers from fighting HIV in Jamaica.

TB, who petitioned the IACHR over Jamaica’s law, gave evidence about trying to get an HIV test on the island:

‘The nurse handed me a questionnaire to complete.

‘Among other things it had questions about my previous sexual partners. I was afraid to fill it out truthfully because I had only ever had sex with men, which is a crime in Jamaica.

‘Completing the questionnaire would be admitting that I broke the law and could spend up to 10 years in prison.

‘I also did not want to expose myself to further ridicule by admitting that I was gay. So, when the nurse was not looking, I quickly gathered my belongings and left.’

AIDS-Free World points out the predictable toll this takes on the nation’s health.

In a statement the organization said: ‘The rate of HIV infection in Jamaica among men who have sex with men is 29.8%, the highest in the Caribbean region.

‘The HIV prevalence among gay and bisexual adolescent boys is estimated to be 14%, and HIV prevalence in transgender adolescents is estimated to be 51%. Such numbers constitute an entirely avoidable public health crisis on the island.’

The commission concludes by telling Jamaica to change its laws and to provide health services to LGBT+ citizens without discrimination.

Jamaica is under no legal obligation to follow the IACHR recommendations. However, the report will carry weight in the international community and pressure lawmakers to act.

[Syndicated Content]

Published on GayStarNews Read the original article

Author: Tris Reid-Smith

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