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Gay sex law repeal depends on Jamaicans

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Despite renewed pressure from Britain for Jamaica to repeal its gay sex law, new Prime Minister Andrew Holness says it will be up to Jamaicans to signal such a desire.

Holness, who described himself as a “liberal in many things’ and “a fiscal conservative on the economic side,” said the government recognizes that homosexuality offends many Jamaicans.

“What the international community must be aware of in the Jamaican context is that we are a democracy and this democracy is opening up more; people are talking; there are discussions, and I think they should support the evolving discussion. Over time, our democracy will settle a position,” Holness said, in an interview with the Sunday Gleaner.

Recently, British Prime Minister David Cameron threatened to withhold aid from governments that did not repeal existing laws that criminalize homosexuality.

Gay-rights group Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays (JFLAG) claimed that Jamaica has been requested by the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Committee to take specific actions to protect and promote the rights of lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Jamaicans and to report on the steps taken by next year.

“The committee has requested that the government take steps to amend the buggery law and provide protection for LGBT persons and human-rights defenders. Specifically, they recommended that the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms be reviewed to prohibit discrimination on the grounds of sex, sexual orientation and gender identity and provide an update on one year,” states a JFLAG release.

For his part, Holness stressed that Jamaica has done much to protect individual rights and liberty.

He said governments have to pay attention to defending human rights and protecting civil rights.

Holness argued that while it is important to protect liberty of the person and the private space of the individual, the law must take into consideration the public impact of behaviors.

Updated 5:57 pm, July 9, 2018
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