The human rights condition of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons in Jamaica is horrible. Recently, the Jamaican government amended some parts of the constitution, adding a different charter of fundamental freedom and rights (Gibson et al., 2010). Unfortunately, the charter does not cover protection against discrimination on the gender identity. In fact the Jamaican government deliberately excluded protection on sex and in place it only granted protection against discrimination in terms of male and female, hence excluding any further possibility for judicial clarification of the charter as being part of shield on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. On other words, Jamaican government has retained colonial regime of criminalizing same sex act. This has been enforced by politicians who publicly give homophobic speeches. Discrimination and violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons is widespread and very common. Similarly, persons of opposite sex and same sex relationship are treated distinctly according to Jamaican law. Transgender people are given no legal acknowledgment as per their preferred gender. This sidelines them from the rest of the society. The government has completely failed to protect, investigate and prosecute culprits of violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons.
The government of Jamaica encourages and endorses discrimination and violence against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons by government and non-government actors through giving homophobic speeches to the public (Jamaica Ministry of Health, 2011). Politicians have also exploited the Jamaican society’s homophobia for their selfish interests. For instance, Jamaican Labour Party formulated a song to celebrate the killing and burning of gay men so as to gain support from the society during its campaign. In response to that, the opposition; People’s National Party adopted another song that was about stomping and kicking the gay men. .
The media also played a role in violating and discriminating the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons by disseminating messages of animosity to the society by justifying their views through religious guidelines. Preservation of Jamaican culture was also a reason for discriminating against the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons. For example the Prime Minister Golding was quoted saying that recognition or encouragement of homosexual was going to demean the value of family set up in the society.
Politician’s public speeches on homosexual in Jamaica show not only the level of intolerance but also the ignorance of the entire issue affecting the community. For instance in 2009, Smith, the Jamaican Labour Party MP for South West Jamaica said that, reports of violence against them was a legend. Public intolerance of the same sex individuals shutters them from gaining political influence in the society. This in the end makes them to hide their sexual inclination so as to maintain the position. This was evident in May 2008 when Prime Minister Golding said that he was not going to pave ways for homosexuals into his cabinet. This type of dissemination by politicians natures a culture in which prejudgment against the same sex individuals is not only acknowledged but also encouraged which attracts open discrimination and violence by the society (Jamaica, Planning Institute, 2010). An example is a man of the name Kenneth who was compelled to go out of his sister’s house by a group of men from the society who believed that he was gay. The group of men beat him thorough to death. Such incidences shows how culture of homophobia has encroached into Jamaica’s society to the extent that barbaric violent acts towards people believed to be homosexuals go unnoticed by the authorities.
According to ICCPR, the state has a role to carry out an investigation and apprehend the culprits of violation to the same sex individuals. Surprisingly, the Jamaican government had proved its reluctance to protect persons who are subjected to discrimination and violence. In fact, police are the common violators and are never held responsible for their cruel acts. Between 2009 and 2011, 17 reports of homophobic were registered to the organization upholding human rights of the same sex individuals.
Other critical human rights problems in the country included; unlawful killings, inhuman jail conditions and violence against children and sexual abuse. The government made a step in punishing the police officers who committed injustice but there were no cases where prosecutions or arrests arose hence giving freedom to the police to exercise injustice without having fear of facing charges (National Statistical Institute of Jamaica, 2010). A number of cases arose where the government’s security personnel committed unlawful killings. For instance, a police killed Grinnion and claimed to have recovered a pistol in his home but those allegations were denied by the family of the deceased. They said that Grinnion had been killed far away from his home. After his death, the family urged the government to carry out thorough investigation into his death but nothing happened until the end of the year. Basing on the official’s statistical reports, the number of killings carried out by the police had rose up to 235 by the end of that year. The human rights watch indicated that several killings done by the police were unreported to the authorities. The police gave a common reason for their killings claiming that the victims were carrying fire arms and were attempting to shoot them.
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