Jamaica Says Will Not Abolish Ban On Homosexuality
Reuters, December 16, 1998
KINGSTON, Jamaica Jamaicas justice minister on Wednesday
dismissed calls from homosexuals for the government to abolish laws declaring
"No, theres no plan by the government to repeal the laws relevant to
homosexual activities. The law is founded in a moral imperative which has not
changed," Justice Minister K.D. Knight told Reuters.
Knights comment followed the creation last week of J-FLAG the Jamaica
Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays.
"We believe that homosexuality and discrimination against gays and lesbians are
legitimate human rights issues, which must be treated as such," said J-FLAG spokesman
Homosexuality is illegal in Jamaica and in the past year has become a hot issue
throughout much of the Caribbean. Britain is urging some of its remaining colonies and
independent former territories in the region to liberalize anti-gay laws, drawing
resentment from many people.
The Independent Jamaican Council for Human Rights (IJCHR) backed J-FLAGs appeal.
"We would support the repealing of the law relating to sex, which does not only
affect homosexuals. It is Victorian and is no longer appropriate to the time,"
Executive Director Hilaire Sobers told Reuters.
In March, Jamaican church leaders protested against a show on the island by the U.S.
gay pop vocal group The Village People, saying it highlighted "a behavior repugnant
to the majority of people in this country."
The government of the Cayman Islands started a furor over gay vacationers a year ago
December when it refused landing rights to a cruise ship, saying the 900 gay passengers
could not be expected to uphold appropriate standards of behavior.
Jamaica gained international notoriety in August 1997 when prison inmates killed 16
fellow prisoners believed to be homosexual.
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