Jamaica today: Challenging homophobic TV stations

The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network reports:

Scène de "L'amour et le respect" vidéo rejetée par les radiodiffuseurs jamaïcains. (Cliquez sur l'image pour voir la vidéo.)
“Love and Respect” video, rejected by Jamaican broadcasters. (Click the image to watch the video.)

This morning, the Jamaican Court of Appeal will begin hearing a precedent-setting appeal by Maurice Tomlinson, Jamaican human rights activist and a senior policy analyst at the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, challenging national television stations that refused to air a “tolerance ad” promoting the human rights of LGBTI people. And we just received some great news: it seems that one of the TV stations won’t appear to defend its original decision refusing the ad.

You can check out the “offensive” ad  and let us know what you think on social media, using#LoveAndRespect, #LGBTIrights and #Jamaica. We hope you’ll share this important ad widely and help us create a huge worldwide online audience!

Maurice Tomlinson (Photo courtesy of International Planned Parenthood Federation)
Maurice Tomlinson (Photo courtesy of International Planned Parenthood Federation)

This is a landmark constitutional case in Jamaica for two reasons. Notably, it’s the first appeal to raise the issue of human rights of LGBTI people. It’s also the first time the Court will consider how the rights protected under the 2011 Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms should apply against private corporations and not just the government.

With this ground-breaking case, our hope is to chart a new course not only for LGBTI Jamaicans, but for all those who want Jamaica’s constitution to deliver on its promise of protecting human rights. And Maurice is certainly the right person to bring the case: he was forced to flee his homeland because of homophobia and hate. We’re proud to be supporting this appeal, building on a case initiated by our partner organization, AIDS-Free World.

In Jamaica, and elsewhere in the Caribbean, homophobia and transphobia force LGBTI people underground, ultimately driving them away from HIV prevention, treatment and support interventions. The consequences of this are terrible: the Caribbean has the second highest HIV prevalence rate following sub-Saharan Africa – and the highest prevalence of HIV among gay men and other men who have sex with men (MSM) in the Americas.

If you want to learn more about this case, please check out our Q&A – and keep watching for updates as we have our say in court.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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