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'LGBT Jamaicans are vulnerable to physical, sexual violence'

Published:Tuesday | October 21, 2014 | 12:12 PM

A report released by Human Rights Watch today is claiming that lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgendered (LGBT) Jamaicans are vulnerable to both physical and sexual violence and many live in constant fear.

Human Rights Watch says they are taunted, threatened, fired from their jobs, thrown out of their homes and in some cases beaten, stoned, raped and killed.

The 86-page report, 'Not Safe at Home: Violence and Discrimination Against LGBT People in Jamaica', documents 56 cases of violence in which victims reported they were targeted because of their actual or perceived sexual identity.

Human Rights Watch says it conducted five weeks of field research in Jamaica in April and June 2013, interviewing 71 LGBT people, as well as government officials and other stakeholders.

The human rights group says it found that police investigations are often inadequate or lacking altogether, in some cases due to homophobia within the police force.

It says of the 56 cases of violence documented, 19 victims had reported these crimes to the police.

However, it says the police took formal statements in only eight cases, and only four led to arrests or prosecutions.

Human Rights Watch says it was told by those who did not file police reports that they were afraid of facing further discrimination at the hands of the police, or that they believed the police would take no action to assist them.

It notes that the police recently established protocols for addressing hate crimes.

However, it says improved protection and non-discrimination mechanisms are still needed.

In addition, Human Rights watch says discriminatory laws contribute to the specific vulnerability of LGBT people.

And it is calling for Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller to make good on her election promise that no one should be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation.

It is also calling for a repeal of the buggery laws and for parliament to introduce a gender-neutral rape law.


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