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'Huge legal victory': Jamaica should end gay sex ban, top tribunal rules

“Hopefully it will accelerate the repeal of these laws"

2021-02-19

Words: Jamie Tabberer; picture: Pexels

Jamaica should end its ban on gay sex, the top human rights body of the Americas said this week.

The unprecedented ruling from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights [IACHR] is a huge, symbolic step forward on LGBTQ rights in the Caribbean.

Same-sex relations are illegal in Jamaica under British colonial-era law.

Acts such as the "abominable crime of buggery" between men are punishable by up to 10 years in prison and hard labour.

"I'm overwhelmed with joy"

Gareth Henry, one of two Jamaican claimants who initiated the case in 2011, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation he is “overwhelmed with joy" by the ruling.

Both claimants sought asylum oversees after suffering homophobic gang attacks in their home country.

The ruling from IACHR, which has no enforcement powers, was made in 2019 but only made public this week.

The Human Dignity Trust brought the claim. Director Tea Braun commented: “It’s a huge legal victory that’s relevant not only for Jamaica but for the entire region. Hopefully it will accelerate the repeal of these laws."

Homosexuality is illegal in nine countries in the Caribbean in total: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada (male only), Guyana (male only), Jamaica (male only), St Kitts and Nevis (male only), St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Attitude has approached the Jamaican government for comment.

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