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July 11, 2014

Jamaican MP Stands Up for LGBT Rights

Julian Robinson, a member of Parliament from Southeast St. Andrew, has joined the ranks of the few public officials taking a stand for LGBT rights in Jamaica. In a public statement before the House of Representatives, the MP addressed the growing international concern regarding the long-standing marginalization of Jamaican sexual minorities, specifically LGBT youth.

The media have brought the plight of a group of homeless LGBT teenagers to the forefront of the ongoing debate within the country over the rights of sexual minorities. In recent years, the young men traveled from abandoned building to abandoned building, only to be driven literally underground, where they now call the Kingston’s sewer system their home.

The broader context for the debate is a climate of intolerance caused, in part, by state-sanction inequality. Under the Offenses Against the Person Act of 1864, sexual acts between men are illegal, giving legal credence to the arguments of public figures that homosexual acts are immoral. This past week, thousands of Jamaicans gathered to protest the so-called “homosexual agenda” in the busiest intersection of Kingston. The demonstration, organized by the umbrella church organization Jamaica CAUSE, aimed to address the fear of a “sexually free” Jamaica.

The public stance by Robinson is a much-needed overture in the face of the rising hate from groups like Jamaica CAUSE. We hope, along with the LGBT community in Jamaica, that more will have the courage to join him.