Offences Against The Person Act: Discrimination Of Sexual Minorities In Jamaica

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Sexual minorities in Jamaica face pervasive discrimination. Articles 76, 77, and 79 of Jamaica’s Offences Against the Person Act, collectively referred to as the “buggery law”, introduced under British colonization, criminalize anal sex and acts of gross indecency between men (Offences Against the Person Act, 1864). Although the law criminalizes acts between men, and arrest under the law is rare, it is used to justify human rights violations against all sexual minorities (Human Rights First, 2015). Homophobic discourse is widespread in Jamaican media, music, religious groups, and politics. Sexual minorities are stigmatized and denied access to social, economic, and legal services in public and private sectors and are subjected to societal and …show more content…
Many are disowned by their families or threatened by community members and forced to move out of their homes. They have significant difficulty finding someone willing to rent or sell them property. Sexual minority youths are especially affected by homelessness, and comprise about 40 percent of Jamaica’s homeless youth population. They do not have access to shelters and are forced to live on the streets (Reynols et al., 2014 and Human Rights First, 2015).

Sexual minorities face discrimination in accessing and maintaining employment. A 2007 survey of 201 MSM found the unemployment rate to be 50 percent, about five times the rate among the general population (Reynolds et al., 2014). Transgender people have difficulty gaining employment, as their identification documents do not match their gender identity (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, 2012). Furthermore, some individuals are fired when their employers become aware of their sexual orientation or gender identity (Reynolds et al.,
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When crimes are reported, the police force often fails to investigate and prosecute individuals who perpetrate violence and discrimination against sexual minorities (Narayan, 2006). Many victims are reluctant to report incidents of discrimination to the police out of fear of further discrimination from the police force and the potential for community threat after exposure (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, 2012). The “buggery law” leads to sexual minorities’ mistrust of the justice system due to fear of persecution.

The “buggery law” has resulted in pervasive discrimination against sexual minorities.

The Ministry of Health has acknowledged that the “buggery law” contributes to HIV rates and impedes HIV prevention and care for sexual minorities (Schleifer et al., 2004). The Ministry has begun training healthcare providers and peer educators on how to interact with sexual minorities. Mr. Mark Golding, former minister of justice, has indicated that legislative intervention might be required to address discrimination against sexual minorities. Additionally, Ms. Lisa Hanna, former minister of youth and culture, has acknowledged the need to develop programs and services to address the complex needs of sexual minority youths (Reynolds et al., 2014). With support for sexual minorities on both sides of the aisle, these members of parliament can

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