Last edited: November 19, 2004

‘We Won’t Be Bullied’—Gov’t Says It Has No Plan to Repeal Buggery Law; Denies Anti-Gay Allegations

Jamaica Gleaner, November 18, 2004

By Dionne Rose, Staff Reporter

GOVERNMENT YESTERDAY dismissed claims by the international body, Human Rights Watch, that the authorities have been soft on police abuses on homosexual males and persons affected by HIV/AIDS.

“We find the approach of this organisation unacceptably insensitive,” Information Minister Burchell Whiteman said in a statement issued to the media yesterday.

“We also as the duly elected representatives of the people feel that it is the people who must set our agenda in respect of the legislation which we pass or the repeal of any existing laws. We are certainly not about to respond to any organisation, external to this country, which may want to dictate to us how and when to deal with the laws of our land,” said Senator Whiteman.

He added: “To link the homophobia issue to the response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic is inappropriate. The Government of Jamaica, through various ministries and agencies, has taken measures to arrest the HIV/AIDS epidemic.”

The findings of the Human Rights Watch Report were released to the public during a launch at the Courtleigh Hotel in New Kingston on Tuesday. The report accused both the Government and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) of turning a blind eye to what they claim is a “rampant abuse of homosexual males and persons living with HIV/AIDS.”

The international body also criticised the Government’s stance on legislation (the buggery law) on homosexuality, which they say is a ‘discriminatory legislation’.

Speaking in support of the sentiments expressed by the human rights group, Delroy Chuck, Opposition spokesman on Justice said, “I find homosexual behaviour quite reprehensible but I believe it is a moral issue and not one that should be prohibited by the legislature.”

Some clergymen, however, fiercely defended the law and insisted that it should be upheld. Rev. Courtney Richards, of the Missionary Church Association, pointed out that Human Rights Watch was mixing up the issues. “It is not the law itself that is the problem. They are making a leap here. I see no reason to change the law, it is to be upheld,” he said.


Turning to the charge of discrimination against persons affected by HIV/AIDS in the church, Rev. Phillip Robinson, president of the Jamaica Council of Churches, said, “they need to substantiate it. They have not given us the facts and the grounds in which they have made the allegations.”

In a quick response to allegations made against members of the police force that they were derelict in their duties and turning a blind eye to documented cases of physical and verbal abuse of HIV positive persons, Superintendent Ionie Ramsey, head of the Constabulary Communication Network (CCN), said that the police High Command had ordered a probe into the allegations.

Hated to Death: Homophobia, Violence, and Jamaica’s HIV/AIDS Epidemic

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