LGBT battles Gov’t at IACHR today


• Nov. 19 deadline for Govt. to respond to Tomlinson’s same-sex marriage petition

Jamaica’s anti-same-sex laws will today again be thrown into the international spotlight when the powerful Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, IAHCR, which is an arm of the Organization of American States, hears the petition brought by Aids Free World on behalf of two Jamaican LGBTQ petitioners alleging that Jamaica is in breach of the American Convention on Human Rights.

The petition challenges Jamaica’s laws against sexual activity between consenting same-sex partners.

The hearing comes just weeks after Jamaica’s appellate court overturned an interim injunction which had initially granted gay rights group, Montego Bay Pride, permission to rent public facilities at the Montego Bay Cultural Centre for a forum on same-sex marriage.

In one instance, the petitioner, a transgender woman, contends that she was stoned by an angry mob in her home in Jamaica, resulting in her being kicked out and forced to live on the streets at the age of 19.

She further contends that she was sexually assaulted, beaten and held hostage. She says she was denied access to an HIV test and other health services at a free public health clinic and subjected to hostile, unwelcoming treatment from healthcare workers. The woman is now said to be living in the Netherlands.  

In the other case, which involves a gay man, he contends that he was beaten, stoned and mobbed while in Jamaica. The man said every time he went to the police station to report the attacks, the officers chased him away and blamed him for causing the abuse because he was “too gay”. He is now living in the United States.

The contending parties are hoping that the hearing will be in their favour, as they believe a positive decision on the petitions from the IACHR would be welcome news for activists working in Jamaica and the Caribbean to end the criminalization of LGBTQ people that has resulted in stigma, discrimination, and violence (including murder), which continue to hamper the fight against HIV.


Meanwhile, the Jamaican authorities’ legal battle with Montego Bay gay rights activist, Maurice Tomlinson, seems far from over as the Jamaican government is expected to respond by November 19 to a challenge to its law against same-sex marriage, mounted by Tomlinson, at the IACHR.

The challenge is to the country’s constitutional ban on the legal recognition of any form of same-sex unions, including marriage.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has held that the American Convention on Human Rights, to which Jamaica is a signatory, guarantees the right to same-sex marriage. 


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