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Jamaica did better for gays in 2014

Published:Sunday | February 22, 2015 | 12:00 AM
The Reverend Father Sean Major-Campbell washes the feet of two Jamaican lesbians, Jalna (centre) and Rochelle (surname withheld) during a service for human-rights observance at Christ Church in Vineyard Town, St Andrew last year.

With the church, the police force, local universities and corporate Jamaica adding their voices to calls for an end to discrimination against homosexuals, the local lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community is counting last year as one of its most successful in its fight for equality.

The LBGT community has listed the observation of International Human Rights Day at Christ Church in Vineyard Town, Kingston, during which Father Sean Major-Campbell washed the feet of two lesbians and invited a transgender male as one of its high points of 2014.


Human-rights programme


According to the Jamaica Forum of Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG), last year also saw the release of several videos from LGBT individuals and their allies as well as the launch of a human-rights programme by leading private sector companies.

The initiative, which has been dubbed the Respect Jamaica Programme, is aimed at ending discrimination of the marginalised and vulnerable groups in Jamaica.

But perhaps one of the biggest victories for the group has been what it described as their improved relationship with members of the police force who they have criticised in

the past for a lackadaisical

attitude in treating with matters involving members of the gay community.

"Throughout the year, J-FLAG received several reports from LGBT people commending members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force for their improved treatment of members of the community.

"Special commendations go out to officers in May Pen, Clarendon, who showed much compassion and went above the call of duty to a 16-year-old who was being attacked by a large mob in that town in June 2014 because of the teen's

sexual orientation and gender expression. We commend the persons who secured the teen until the police arrived," the group said.

The group has also garnered much support for homeless individuals who make up their community, and highlighted junior minister Julian Robinson, Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna, Mayor of Kingston and St Andrew Councillor Angela Brown Burke and councillor for the Trafalgar Division, Kari Douglas, for their efforts to assist these individuals.