Jamaican Parliament is set to review the country’s Sexual Offences Act. The Jamaican criminal code currently prohibits sex between men through the colonial era buggery law, but the 2009 introduction of the Sexual Offences Act further criminalised same-sex relations.
Earlier this month, Labour MP Diane Abbott, the chair of the UK All-Party Parliamentary Group on Jamaica, reiterated calls for the country to move away from its anti-gay stance.
Jamaican LGBT rights lawyer Maurice Tomlinson has sent an open letter to all members of the country’s Parliament urging for reform.
“The law does not prevent HIV: The Sexual Offences Act of 2009 preserves the ban on private consensual adult male same-gender intimacy found in the 1864 Offences Against the Person Act (the anti-sodomy law). However, despite the continued existence of this colonially imposed law, Jamaica has the highest HIV prevalence rate among men who have sex with men (MSM) in the Western Hemisphere (33%). Hence, the law violates the right to privacy of consenting adults, with no societal benefit.”
Mr Tomlinson said the legislation is “unfair to women” and “hurts women”
“Law preserves the 1864 Offences Against the Person Act, which provides for a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for anal rape and life imprisonment for vaginal rape. Hence, if a man raped a woman anally he would get significantly less time than if he raped her vaginally. This is patently unjust.”
Mr Tomlinson accused Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller of a “blatant betrayal” for refusing to abolish Jamaica’s buggery law.
As part of her election campaign in 2011 Mrs Simpson-Miller vowed to review the legislation. However, since then, the issue has remained unresolved.
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