The Jamaica Gleaner newspaper, the country’s most influential and probably its largest, has endorsed same-sex marriage, which local LGBT rights activists have not been pushing for.
In passing, the newspaper’s editorial spoke against the “buggery law” that makes male homosexual activity a crime in Jamaica. That law has been local activists’ primary target.
The editorial stated that Jamaica’s law against same-sex marriage “has its foundation in a deep-seated, if slowly receding, homophobia that has caused us to maintain the buggery provisions, which, essentially, criminalise male homosexuality and allows the State the role of commissar of sexual preferences and to invade the privacy of people’s bedrooms. It matters nought that the power is little used; its existence is chilling.”
One activist commented about the editorial, “This was totally unexpected! The Jamaican LGBT community has NOT been lobbying for marriage equality. Clearly, the country’s intelligentsia is far ahead of the LGBT liberation movement.”
The constitutionality of the buggery law is currently being challenged before Jamaica’s supreme court. In that court case, Javed Jaghai, education and outreach officer for the Jamaican LGBT rights group J-FLAG and allies are opposed by Christian leaders who support the law.
In some other countries with anti-gay laws, the issue of same-sex marriage has led to crackdowns on local LGBT communities, even though local LGBT rights activists were not seeking marriage equality.
In Zambia, after an apparent attempt by four same-sex couples to register as married in March 2013, government officials protested and called for the public to report all homosexuals to police. In the resulting crackdown, several LGBT people are on trial or awaiting trial in Zambia, where they face the possibility of spending 15 years to life in prison if convicted.
In Nigeria, the “Same-Sex Marriage Prohibition Law” was passed this year, although no one in Nigeria was advocating for same-sex marriage. That law makes it a crime to marry a member of the same sex or to attend such a wedding, but the main effect of the law has been dozens of arrests of apparently LGBT people. The new law provides for prison sentences of 10 years for belonging to a gay organization and for public displays of same-sex affection.
- Jamaican newspaper: Banning same-sex marriage is hypocritical (pinknews.co.uk)
- Jamaica: Gay rights activist shot dead outside home (pinknews.co.uk)
- J-FLAG, Jamaica’s gay rights group, launches YouTube video campaign, ‘We Are Jamaicans’ (miamiherald.typepad.com)
- Jamaica’s ‘unique’ brand of homophobia (washingtonblade.com)
- Gay student challenges Jamaica’s anti-sodomy law (repeatingislands.com)
- Protest adds to Jamaican debates about homosexuality (76crimes.com)
- Plea for Jamaican LGBT rights now that ‘gay cure’ lie is past (76crimes.com)
- Jamaica: Evicted, gay man aims to overturn sodomy law (76crimes.com)
- Jamaica: Legal challenge to anti-gay law under way (76crimes.com)