Sun | Dec 11, 2016

Supporters of Jamaican LGBT community post open letter to Obama

Published:Monday | April 6, 2015 | 9:25 AM

The Jamaica Coalition for Healthy Lifestyle (JCHL), says it has taken note of an open letter, dated April 3, from various organisations in the United States and posted to FreedomHouse.org, which urges US President, Barack Obama, to raise the matter of the protection of the rights of the Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay and Trensgender (LGBT) community in Jamaica with Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and other Caribbean heads of state when he arrives on Wednesday.

The letter signed by organisations such as Advocates for Youth, the Council for Global Equality and the Global Justice Institute, urged Obama to also meet with civil society leaders and members of the LGBT community on his visit Jamaica.

The letter pointed to ongoing threats against the LGBT community in Jamaica, citing the withdrawal of a recent challenge to the buggery law, after the life of the plaintiff, Javed Jaghai, and his family was threatened.

The letter also references reports by the gay lobby group, the Jamaican Forum for the Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG), claiming 231 cases of violence or discrimination against homosexuals and trans-gender people, between 2009 and 2012.

However, in a response to the letter, the JCHL, says the rights of the LGBT community "are not established in international law."

In addition, the organisation chaired by Dr Wayne West, says it takes note of the US State Department’s recent appointment of a special envoy to advocate globally for the rights of LGBT people.

It says Jamaica and other CARICOM nations have been named as countries to be targeted for the repeal of their buggery laws.

But referencing Bill Johnson polls commissioned by The Gleaner last September, the JCHL says LGBT rights are not supported by most Jamaicans.

He also pointed to two mass rallies held in Montego Bay and Kingston last year, which the JCHL as evidence of Jamaicans' stance against homosexuality.

The group says it denounces violence against anyone, including members of the LGBT community, but says a clear distinction has to be made between discrimination against people and discrimination against behaviours, which it says are high risk for HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

JCHL says it is "horrified at the human rights abuses suffered by countless ordinary Americans," who it claims, "have had their freedoms of conscience, speech, religious liberty and parental rights crushed all in the name of LGBT “rights”."

Pointing to statistics showing the high prevalence of HIV/AIDS transmission among men who have sex with men, it praised Simpson Miller for her recent response to heckling by gay lobbyists on a trip to New York.

Simpson Miller was rebuked by protestors last week for not doing enough to follow through promises to put the issue concerning the repeal of the buggery law to a conscience vote in Parliament.

Simpson Miller had made the promise ahead of the 2011 General Elections.

The JCHL says the Prime Minister must continue to defend "the truth, that there are no reports of abuse by the Jamaican State against homosexuals and that gay men are not being prevented from accessing healthcare.