Members of the lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LBTI) communities in Jamaica are denied access to basic rights and services, resulting in an alarming rate of human rights violations against them.
The criminalisation of homosexuality in Jamaica dates back to the 1864 Offences Against the Person Act, which calls for a punishment of up to 10 years of imprisonment with hard labor for those convicted of the “abominable crime of buggery” (Section 76) or “act of gross indecency” (Section 79).
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issued decisions in two cases calling on Jamaica to repeal these laws. The decisions, issued December 31, 2020 and made public in February 2021, found that Jamaica’s laws violate rights to privacy, health, and equal protection under the American Convention on Human Rights. They also found that discriminatory legislation contributes to violence by members of the public. The commission called on Jamaica to gather data on violence and discrimination against LGBT and intersex people, train public officials on addressing such cases, and provide comprehensive sexuality education that is inclusive of sexual and gender diversity.
Human Rights Watch reports show that the “buggery” laws contribute to a hostile climate in which discrimination and violence are rife.
There is no legal recognition for same-sex unions and marriages. In Jamaica, transgender people do not have legal recognition, and intersex people are subject to many challenges as they are not protected by law.
The CEDAW Committee provided no SOGIESC-focused observations to Jamaica at the 52nd Session. The List of Issues had no LBTI-inclusive questions.
Other general recommendations by the Committee that can apply to LBTI people include:
(a) to strengthen measures to prevent and address trafficking and protect victims of trafficking with support services, including alternative employment;
(b) to strengthen monitoring and data collection on women’s access to healthcare, and improve SRHR, adequate access to contraceptives and women living with HIV/AIDS;
(c) to remove punitive provisions imposed on women who undergo abortion.
The last state party report was submitted in 2020 and contained some LBTI specific information. The report mentioned creating enabling spaces for civil society interventions that are in-line with national SRH priorities, and some partners of this project were LBTI-inclusive organisations. The report also stated that “women from the Lesbian, Gays, Bi-sexual and Transgender (LGBT) community, women who are living with HIV, women who are living with disabilities, women and girls who are living with HIV and sex workers who are at greater risk of violence were engaged in advocacy workshops.”