Some of the world’s most powerful countries at a United Nations meeting took issue with Jamaica’s failure to support their recommendations to protect the rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgender (LGBT) community.
Justice Minister Mark Golding led a delegation of ministerial officials to Geneva, Switzerland on May 15 to participate in a review of Jamaica’s human rights policies.
At the meeting, a number of countries expressed dissatisfaction with Jamaica’s efforts to address the protection of the human rights of the LGBT community. And, according to Golding, “recurring recommendations (were) made by some member states that did not enjoy Jamaica’s support”.
The US, for example, recommended that Jamaica “decriminalise consensual same-sex conduct between adults.” Singing a similar tune was the UK, who recommended the “introduction and implementation of fully comprehensive anti-discrimination legislation to include sexual orientation and gender.”
Arguably the most outraged at Jamaica’s responses on the gay rights issue was Sweden. According to Swedish Minister-Counsellor Josefin Simonsson Broden: “Despite the fact that more LGBT people are reporting acts of violence and discrimination to the police (in Jamaica), many incidents still go unreported.”
Broden noted that Sweden’s recommendation to the Government of Jamaica is for the state to repeal the legal provisions which make same-sex intimacy between men – described as ‘gross indecency and buggery’ – unlawful.
Canada appeared less demanding, suggesting effective measures “to investigate and prosecute all incidents and acts of violence targeting individuals based on sexual orientation.”
In a statement to the Senate on Friday, May 22, Golding remained confident that protection for the LGBT community is available under the constitution and current laws; adding that he would “maintain open communication with the LGBT community to identify and find ways of addressing the main concerns.”
Jamaica’s international partners, however, do not share Golding’s position.