THE EDITOR, Sir:
ONE DAY after the world observed International Day Against Homophobia, Jamaica has found itself with a supposedly 'improved' Constitution that preserves discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The recently passed Charter of Rights does an extremely illiberal thing: it ensures that there can be no constitutional interpretation that challenges gay male laws which criminalise male homosexual sex. The charter preserves all that existed before.
We find ourselves at this place through the action of both major political parties. Popular resentment towards gays and lesbians means that politicians felt the need to pander to homophobia, said to exist among the majority of us, to win or maintain votes. Moral courage and objective leadership on this issue have been absent from within our Parliament.
We are now left with the consequences of this institutionalised discrimination. Our refusal to address homophobia will continue to make us a target for international criticism. Laws criminalising homosexual sex fly in the face ofour international human-rights obligations.
Our motto, 'Out of Many, One People', embraces all. This means that the Constitution ought to protect diversity and plurality. The fact that Parliament has voted to keep a legal regime in place, to keep gay people as second-class citizens, means we are content to have an unequal and unjust society.
I am, etc.,
ARLENE HARRISON HENRY