The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights immediately made public a decision calling on Jamaica to repeal laws prohibiting consensual same-sex conduct.
The commission’s conclusions in Gareth Henry and Simone Carline Edwards v. Jamaica are by some measures a no-brainer. Petitioners argued that Jamaica’s 1864 Offences Against the Person Act, which punishes the ‘abominable crime of buggery’ and acts of ‘gross indecency’ between males with as much as ten years in jail with hard labor, violates rights protected under the American Convention on Human Rights. The commission, an autonomous organ of the Organization of American States that’s authorized to examine complaints of human rights violations, has already known as on states to repeal laws that discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the tribunal charged with interpreting the American Convention, has established that the convention prohibits “any regulation, act or practice considered discriminatory based on a person’s sexual orientation,” and that sexual orientation is an aspect of private life that cannot be topic to state interference.
So it’s no shock the fee concluded in its December 31st resolution that Jamaica’s legal guidelines violate rights to privateness and equal safety beneath the conference. It additionally discovered that discriminatory laws contributes to violence by members of the general public – just like the homicide try on petitioner Simone Edwards, and dying threats towards Gareth Henry. Human Rights Watch submitted an amicus within the case based mostly on comparable findings in our 2014 report, Not Secure at House, which documented pervasive anti-LGBT violence in Jamaica and is cited by the fee: “Many [LGBT Jamaicans] dwell in fixed worry. They’re taunted; threatened; fired from their jobs, thrown out of their houses; crushed, stoned, raped, and even killed.”
Recognizing that decriminalization is just not a magic wand, the fee known as on Jamaica to assemble information on violence and discrimination towards LGBT and intersex folks, prepare public officers on addressing such instances, and supply complete sexuality training that’s inclusive of sexual and gender range.
Jamaica mustn’t simply settle for however embrace the choice, viewing it as a possibility to interrupt from the previous, construct a extra inclusive society, and lead different Caribbean nations in shedding discriminatory legal guidelines that date to British colonialism. “I hope the Jamaican authorities will, for the primary time, do what is true by the LGBT group,” Henry mentioned in a video recorded by Human Dignity Belief.
Simone Edwards and Gareth Henry each dwell in exile. It’s time for the Jamaican authorities to make sure that LGBT Jamaicans are secure at house.