As far as LGBT rights goes, Jamaica has a pretty abysmal track record. Sexual acts between two men are still punishable by law (they face up to 10 years of imprisonment if caught), and levels of anti-LGBT violence in the country are incredibly widespread.
There are regular reports of ‘corrective rapes’ of non-heterosexual women and it’s not uncommon to hear about gay men being stoned or beaten to death – and these crimes are often overlooked by the police, who fail to acknowledge them as a hate crime.
In the past few years, Jamaica has been criticised by both the United Nations (who said that the country allowed legalised homophobia) as well as by President Barack Obama who recently spoke about the need for equality in the country when he visited the island earlier this year.
However, the country has a long history of homophobia due to British colonialism and the religious beliefs of its citizens too.
As a result, Jamaica’s current landscape makes same-sex marriage – or any LGBT rights at all – a far off possibility.
This is a shame for lesbian couple Carla and Krystal, who recently gave an interview with the Jamaica Gleaner saying that they hope to get married in Jamaica before they die.
Speaking to the publication, Carla said that:
My partner and I used to contemplate marriage. Perhaps we were naive at first, but that blossomed into a bit of boldness. I’m not sure if my partner knows how disheartening it has been for me, when I sometimes sit in solitude and question why things have to be this way. Why are people so opposed to allowing lesbians to marry each other?
She has always been there for me when I was unemployed and on the verge of depression. She always provided emotional support like no other, and who remains equally, if not more committed to us and the prosperity of our union, and yet, I am not allowed to marry her.”
Carla also added that when the time is right, she and Krystal would like to challenge Jamaica’s Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms; these state that marriage is a human right. Though, Carla also realises that she will have a hard time getting two-thirds of Jamaica’s government to rule in favour of a same-sex marriage ruling should she go ahead with that legal battle.