Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to hear Jamaica petition Monday

LGBTI rights activists plan to plead for an end to Jamaica’s anti-sodomy law in a hearing today with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. THE IACHR has the authority to at least advise member states about human rights issues.

LGBTI rights activists prepare for their hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. From left to right, Maurice Tomlinson (Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network); Sarah Bosha (AIDS-Free World); Samir Varma (ThompsonHine LLP).
LGBTI rights activists prepare for their hearing before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. From left to right, Maurice Tomlinson (Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network); Sarah Bosha (AIDS-Free World); Samir Varma (ThompsonHine LLP).

This is the activists’ press release announcing today’s action:

INTER-AMERICAN COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS TO HEAR PETITION CHALLENGING JAMAICA’S HOMOPHOBIC LAWS MONDAY

By Sarah Botha and Maurice Tomlinson

In 2011, AIDS-Free World filed a petition before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) on behalf of two Jamaicans, a gay man and a transgender woman, who had suffered extreme abuses because of the anti-sodomy law and the homophobia that it engenders, which exacerbates the HIV epidemic in the region. Due to security threats, both petitioners were forced to flee Jamaica and seek asylum abroad.

Logo of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
Logo of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

 Petitioner A.B. (name withheld) was stoned by an angry mob in her home in Jamaica, resulting in her being kicked out to live in the streets at age 19. She was also sexually assaulted, beaten, and held hostage. She could not take a basic HIV test or access other health services at a free public clinic, where she was subject to hostile and unwelcoming treatment from health care workers meant to serve all Jamaicans. She is now living in the Netherlands where she was able to finally transition.

Petitioner S.H. (real name withheld) was beaten, stoned, and mobbed when he was in Jamaica. Every time he went to the police to report the attacks the officers chased him away and blamed him for causing the abuse because he was “too gay.” He is now living in the United States.

The Commission will hear the petition on Monday, November 11, alleging Jamaica is in breach of the American Convention on Human Rights. A positive decision from the IACHR following this hearing would be welcome news for activists working in Jamaica and the Caribbean to end the criminalization of LGBTQ people that has resulted in stigma, discrimination and violence (including murder), and continues to hamper the fight against HIV. Currently, HIV services are virtually inaccessible to the LGBTQ community in Jamaica due to the homophobia endemic to the public health sector.

 The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights will hear a petition challenging Jamaica’s laws against sexual activity between consenting same-sex partners on Monday, November 11, 2019. 11.30 a.m. EST. The hearings will be livestreamed on the website of the inter-American Commission on Human Rights

Written by Ruby Pratka

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