LGBT Issues in Jamaica
“You’re more eager for progress that comes not by holding down any segment of society, but by holding up the rights of every human being, regardless of what we look like, or how we pray, or who we love. You care less about the world as it has been, and more about the world as it should be and can be.”
–President Barack Obama Town Hall with Young Leaders of the Americas Kingston, Jamaica
The criminalization of homosexuality in Jamaica dates back to the 1864 Offences Against the Person Act, which calls for a punishment of up to 10 years of imprisonment with hard labor for those convicted of the “abominable crime of buggery.” Members of the Jamaican LGBT community are denied access to basic rights and services, resulting in alarming rates of homelessness and HIV. Despite a history of persecution and marginalization, Jamaican LGBT activists are rising to the challenge of combatting homophobia, discrimination, and violence.
The Offences Against the Person Act of 1864
Homosexual acts are illegal in Jamaica, levying sentences of up to 10 years of imprisonment with hard labor for those convicted under Article 76 of the Offences Against the Person Act, also known as the “buggery” statute. The law is predominantly enforced against homosexual men. Article 76 is only one of a number of articles that codify homophobia into law. While arrest under these laws is not the primary concern, they are used to justify other rights violations, legitimizing discrimination and violence toward LGBT people based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity.