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JA pressed on gay rights, same sex marriage

Published:Friday | May 22, 2015 | 2:30 PM
Justice Minister Mark Golding

THE GOVERNMENT has rejected recurring recommendations from some member states of the United Nations for the country to repeal its buggery law and legalise same-sex marriage.

Justice Minister Senator Mark Golding told members of the Upper House of Parliament in a statement yesterday that the proposals from some member countries of the United Nations did not enjoy Jamaica's support.

There were repeated calls by some member states for Jamaica to get rid of the law relating to buggery. They claim that the law was discriminatory to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons. Some member states have also urged Jamaica to legalise same-sex marriage and grant more rights to LGBT persons.

The United States recommended that Jamaica repeal sections 76, 77, and 79 of the Offences Against the Person Act, which criminalise same-sex male intercourse.

In addition, the United States also wants Jamaica to ensure the protection of defendants of the rights of LGBT persons and to take measures to ensure that these persons can fully and freely exercise their rights without fear of attack or reprisal.

The Netherlands has called on Jamaica to repeal all provisions (in law) that criminalise same-sex activities between consenting adults.

Belgium, Slovenia, Sweden, Spain, France, and Australia have also made similar recommendations.

Golding's statement came against the background of Jamaica's participation last week in the meeting of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland. The council considered Jamaica's report to the 22nd session of the Second Cycle Universal Periodic Review.

The justice minister told the country that he assured the council that the Constitution of Jamaica guaranteed basic human rights to all Jamaicans.

He said that in order to create greater understanding of the concerns of the LGBT community, several initiatives have been put in place.

Law-enforcement policy

Golding said he informed the council that the Jamaica Constabulary Force's Diversity Policy aims to eliminate all forms of discrimination and inequitable treatment towards members of the public and guides members of the force in their professional dealings with persons of particular groups, including LGBT people.

On the issue of incitement of violence against members of the LGBT community, Golding told the council that Jamaica had inserted a provision in the Offences Against the Person Act (Section 18A) in April 2014 to address this issue.

Section 18A of the Offences Against the Person Act states that a person shall not produce, record, sell, import, perform in public, circulate or play a recording of an audio, visual or audio-visual communication that promotes the killing of or other serious act of violence against any other category or group of persons.

"We are pleased to note that we detect a significant reduction in recent times of the type of music that was in the past, perhaps, offensive of this notion," the justice minister noted.

"It is my intention to maintain open communication with the representatives of the LGBT community to identify and find ways of addressing the main concerns that affect that vulnerable community and to work proactively with my ministerial colleagues whose portfolios are particularly relevant to those concerns," he added.