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UN pressure mounts for Jamaica to repeal anti-gay laws, improve LGBT environment

Published:Wednesday | May 13, 2015 | 3:05 PM

More international pressure is being applied on Jamaica to repeal laws believed to be infringing on the human rights of vulnerable groups including gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgendered (LGBT) people.

The latest round of calls for Jamaica to act came during today’s United Nations periodic review of Jamaica’s human rights records in Switzerland. 

Jamaica has been facing calls for years to repeal its more than a century-old buggery law, which makes it a criminal offence for persons to engage in anal sex.

During this morning’s review, calls came from representatives of several countries, including Canada, Sweden, and the United States for Jamaica to change its laws and address cultural issues that are out of step with global human rights provisions.

The representative from Great Britain, Matthew Buckley, took issue with the fact that changes to the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms did not protect against discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation.

In 2011, British prime minister, David Cameron, threatened to withhold aid from governments that do not reform legislation banning homosexuality.

However, Justice Minister Mark Golding had earlier told the panel that several steps have been taken to safeguard the rights of all, including implementation of a diversity policy for the police.

Lobbyists believe the removal of the buggery law will help in HIV/AIDs prevention and treatment among members of the LGBT community.

However, last year, a local poll found that 91 per cent of Jamaicans believe lawmakers should not repeal the controversial buggery law.