Hon O. Bruce Golding
Office of the Prime Minister
1 Devon Road
Dear Mr. Golding:
Recently a number of international human rights organisations have called for a boycott of Jamaica over concerns about how gays and lesbians and those perceived to be so are treated in the country. For our part, we at J-FLAG, while disagreeing with the strategy of a tourist boycott, have stated our concern about violence against persons because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation. We note your intervention in the matter in both the local and international media, where you have suggested that the right to privacy is guaranteed and ought not to be violated by the state. Yet, you have confirmed, in a very public way and in a global arena, the view that Jamaica is a repressively homophobic society. Your interview on the BBC’s ‘Hardtalk’, for instance, presented the country as one where open discrimination against gays and lesbians is not only commonplace but sanctioned by a long-standing cultural history, ostensibly enshrined in law, and now condoned by the country’s political leadership.
perception that homosexuality is illegal in Jamaica, based on the provision in the Offences Against the Person Act criminalising buggery. While the law relates to all persons engaged in anal sex, it is to be underscored that the offence, driven by a religio-cultural sense of what is biblically appropriate behaviour, is used symbolically and disproportionately against men engaging in consensual sex. This kind of legislating on the basis of religion is problematic because it lacks consistent application; it is not used against heterosexual persons. Further, no other contravention of biblical sexual values—for example, adultery or fornication—is criminalised in Jamaica. We contend that the continued existence of this law is a violation of our right to privacy and makes many consenting adults into unapprehended criminals simply for having sex.
Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays