Country Reports on Human Rights Practices
Department of State, March 8, 2005
The report entitled "Country Reports on Human Rights Practices"
is submitted to the Congress by the Department of State in compliance with
sections 116(d) and 502B(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (FAA), as
amended, and section 504 of the Trade Act of 1974, as amended. The law
provides that the Secretary of State shall transmit to the Speaker of the
House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate,
by February 25 "a full and complete report regarding the status of
internationally recognized human rights, within the meaning of subsection (A)
in countries that receive assistance under this part, and (B) in all other
foreign countries which are members of the United Nations and which are not
otherwise the subject of a human rights report under this Act." We have
also included reports on several countries that do not fall into the
categories established by these statutes and that thus are not covered by the
Reports on Human Rights Practices
Below are the gay- and HIV/AIDS-related entries on
selected countries around the world. It is not a complete list.
Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
In a similar case in 2001, Muhammad al-Suhaimi, a teacher in an
intermediate school, was suspended from teaching and was told not to talk to
the media after reportedly engaging in a discussion with students about love
in relation to marriages in the country and in relation to God. Authorities
accused him of encouraging students to engage in homosexuality and to commit
adultery. In a subsequent trial in 2001, al-Suhaimi was sentenced to three
years in prison and 300 lashes, but appealed the conviction. He began serving
his sentence during the year and served two weeks in prison before receiving a
pardon from King Abdullah on December 8.
Other Societal Abuses and Discrimination
Under Shari'a as interpreted in the kingdom, sexual activity between two
people of the same gender is punishable by death or flogging. The law also
prohibits men from behaving like women or wearing women's clothes and women
from wearing men's clothes (see section 1.c.).
Although the media has been urged to discourage discrimination against AIDs
patients and those infected with HIV, the press reported that the government
failed to provide proper medical treatment to HIV positive noncitizens and
treated them poorly until their deportation. The Ministry of Health has set up
three HIV centers that provided diagnostic and preventive services
Discrimination surfaced against homosexuals in societal attitudes and legal
issues. In February police charged a group of 28 alleged homosexuals with
creating a public disturbance after they met outside a fast-food restaurant.
United Arab Emirates
Although both civil law and Shari'a criminalize homosexual activity, in
general, reports of discrimination against individuals based on sexual
orientation were not widespread. However, on November 23, Abu Dhabi Police
arrested 26 allegedly homosexual men--UAE nationals, Arabs, and Asians--who
had gathered at an Abu Dhabi hotel for a party. Government officials
reportedly said that the men were transferred to the ministry's Social Support
Center and would "be given the necessary treatment, from male hormone
injections to psychological therapies" after their trial. The Ministry of
Interior later disavowed this statement. At year's end the case was not yet
In 2004 the judiciary formed the special protection division, a new unit
that allowed volunteers to police moral crimes.
The law prohibits and punishes homosexuality; sodomy between consenting
adults is a capital crime. The punishment of a non-Muslim homosexual is
harsher if the homosexual's partner is Muslim. In July two teenage boys, one
16 and one 18 years of age, were publicly executed; they were charged with
raping a 13-year-old boy. A number of groups outside the country alleged the
two were executed for homosexuality; however, because of the lack of
transparency in the court system, there was no concrete information (see
section 1.c.). In November domestic conservative press reported that two men
in their twenties were hanged in public for lavat (defined as sexual acts
between men). The article also said they had a criminal past, including
kidnapping and rape. It was not possible to judge whether these men were
executed for homosexuality or other crimes.
According to the Paris-based International Federation of Human Rights, the
justice system did not actively investigate charges of homosexuality. There
were known meeting places for homosexuals, and there had been no recent
reports of homosexuals executed. However, the group acknowledged it was
possible that a case against a homosexual could be pursued. Conversely, the
London-based homosexual rights group OutRage! claimed over four thousand
homosexuals had been executed in the country since the Islamic revolution in
1979. A September 29 Western newspaper gave one man's account of a systematic
effort by security agents and basiji to use Internet sites to entrap
According to health ministry statistics, by year's end there were 12,556
registered HIV-positive persons in the country, mostly men, but unofficial
estimates were much higher. Transmission was primarily through shared needles
by drug users, and a recent study showed shared injection inside prison to be
a particular risk factor. There was a free anonymous testing clinic in Tehran,
government-sponsored low-cost or free methadone treatment, including in
prisons. The government supported programs for AIDS awareness and did not
interfere with private HIV-related NGOs. Contraceptives were available at
health centers as well in pharmacies. Nevertheless, persons infected with HIV
were discriminated against in schools and workplaces.
Individuals suspected of homosexual activity and arrested on
"debauchery" charges reported in 2004 and earlier of being subjected
to humiliation and abuse while in custody. There were no reports during the
year of this practice.
Israel and the occupied territories
There is no legal discrimination against homosexuals, and there were no
specific reports of abuse because of sexual orientation. However, cultural
traditions and religion reject homosexuality, and Palestinians alleged that
public and PA security officers harassed, abused, and sometimes arrested
homosexuals because of their sexual orientation.
Homosexuality is illegal under federal law; homosexual practices are
punishable by prison sentences of up to 14 years. In the 12 northern states
that have adopted Shari'a, adults convicted of having engaged in homosexual
intercourse are subject to execution by stoning, although no such sentences
There was widespread discrimination against persons living with HIV/AIDS,
which the public considered a result of immoral behavior. Persons living with
HIV/AIDS often lost their jobs or were denied health care services.
The law is discriminatory toward homosexuals, and homosexuality is
criminalized in the country. There is a minimum misdemeanor charge for
homosexual activity, and homosexual men often are subjected to abuse in
prison. In May 2004 the acting commissioner for CHRAJ publicly suggested that
the government consider decriminalizing homosexuality to conform to
international standards of human rights.
In April four male students were dismissed from a boy's school in Akosombo
for allegedly engaging in homosexual acts. Additionally, gay and lesbian
activists reported that gay men were particularly vulnerable to extortion by
Discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS was a problem, and the fear of
being stigmatized continued to discourage persons from being tested. In April
2004 the inspector general of police publicly urged all police officers to be
tested voluntarily through a free service available to the police. During the
year several key government representatives publicly denounced discrimination
against persons with HIV/AIDS. In 2004 the cabinet approved a policy to
protect the rights of persons living with HIV/AIDS.
There was societal discrimination against homosexuals and persons with
HIV/AIDS. A lingering stigma toward persons with HIV/AIDS made it difficult
for many families to admit that their members were HIV positive. The
government worked in cooperation with international donors on programs of
HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment.
There was no official discrimination based on persons being HIV/AIDS
positive; however, persons with HIV/AIDS were stigmatized in society.
The law prohibits homosexual acts, and there was both official and societal
discrimination based on sexual orientation. On November 29, the Ministry of
Social Welfare, Gender, and Children's Affairs condemned same-sex marriage at
an Inter-Religious Council meeting.
In October 2004 a prominent gay activist was killed in her office. The
activist's recently-dismissed domestic employee was arrested and charged with
the crime. On July 11, the defendant, along with approximately 24 other
prisoners, escaped custody. At year's end the defendant was still at large.
There was some official and societal violence and discrimination against
homosexuals; however, unlike in the previous year, there were no reports that
police raped, beat, or assaulted homosexuals.
Although the government conducted campaigns to reduce or eliminate
discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS, the social stigma associated
with HIV/AIDS remained a general problem. There were reports of the abuse of
HIVinfected individuals by their families and communities.
In Zanzibar the law outlaws homosexuality and lesbianism. The law
establishes a penalty of up to 25 years of imprisonment for men who engage in
homosexual relationships, and 7 years for women in lesbian relationships. By
year's end there were no reports that anyone was punished under the law;
however, homosexuals faced societal discrimination.
During the year the Tanzania Parliamentarians' AIDS Coalition addressed
discrimination against persons infected with HIV/AIDS. However, there were
reports that discrimination in housing, healthcare, and education continued to
occur against the estimated 3.5 million persons in the country living with
HIV/AIDS. There were isolated reports that private employers fired or did not
hire persons based on the perception that they had HIV/AIDS. The government,
working with NGOs, continued to sensitize the public about HIV/AIDS-related
Homosexuals faced widespread discrimination and legal restrictions. It is
against the law for homosexuals to engage in sexual acts, based on a legal
provision that criminalizes carnal acts against the "order of
nature" with a penalty of life imprisonment.
In January the AntiHomophobie Africaine, a local NGO whose aim is to
protect and promote the rights of persons with a minority sexual orientation,
applied for registration with the NGO Board; the registration had not been
granted by year's end.
On July 6, parliament amended Article 31 of the constitution to prohibit
Persons with HIV/AIDS continued to face discrimination among local
communities and employers. International and local NGOs, in cooperation with
the government, sponsored public awareness campaigns that aimed to eliminate
the stigma of HIV/AIDS. Counseling and testing for HIV/AIDS was free and
available at health centers and local NGOs across the country. Counselors
encouraged patients to be tested with their partners and family so that they
all received information about living with HIV/AIDS. Persons living with
HIV/AIDS formed support groups to promote awareness in their local
Over a period of years, President Mugabe has publicly denounced
homosexuals, blaming them for "Africa's ills." Although there is no
statutory law proscribing the activities of homosexuals, common law prevents
homosexual men, and to a lesser extent, lesbians, from fully expressing their
sexual orientation and, in some cases, criminalizes the display of affection
On August 5, unidentified men approached the Gays and Lesbians Association
(GALZ) exhibit at the Zimbabwe International Book Fair and stated that GALZ
was not allowed to be there. They then entered the book fair offices where
they threatened staff. Subsequently, they returned to the GALZ stand and
seized GALZ literature. GALZ members sought assistance from police officers
and security guards patrolling the gardens, but they refused to intervene. The
GALZ staff recognized that they would receive no assistance and withdrew from
the fair. GALZ staff reported that they believed the government had sent the
group. No subsequent action was taken against those who threatened the GALZ
The authorities took no action following the incident at the August 2004
Book fair when a mob chased members of GALZ from their exhibit.
The government has a national HIV/AIDS policy that prohibits discrimination
against persons living with HIV/AIDS, and the law aims to protect against
discrimination of workers in the private sector and parastatals. Despite these
provisions societal discrimination against persons affected by HIV/AIDS
remained a problem. Although there was an active information campaign by
international and local NGOs, the Ministry of Health, and the National AIDS
Council to destigmatize HIV/AIDS, ostracism and condemnation of those affected
by HIV/AIDS continued.
The law criminalizes homosexual activity; however, the prohibition was only
Section 377 of the Penal Code punishes acts of sodomy, buggery and
bestiality; however, the law is commonly used to target, harass, and punish
lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons. Human rights groups stated
that gay and lesbian rights were not considered legitimate human rights in the
country. In November the government declined to change provisions of Section
377 outlawing homosexuality. In a response to a case being heard by the
Supreme Court, the government stated, "public opinion and the current
societal context in India does not favor the deletion of the said offense from
the statute book." Gays and lesbians faced discrimination in all areas of
society, including family, work, and education. Activists reported that in
most cases, homosexuals who do not hide their orientation were fired from
their jobs. Homosexuals also faced physical attacks, rape, and blackmail.
Police committed crimes against homosexuals and used the threat of Section 377
to coerce victims into not reporting the incidents. The overarching nature of
Section 377 allowed police to arrest gays and lesbians virtually at will.
However, in July in Jharkand, two lesbians belonging to the scheduled tribes
married in defiance of both law and tradition.
In September 2004 the Delhi High Court dismissed a legal challenge to
Section 377. Plaintiffs filed the case in 2001 after police arrested four gay
and lesbian rights workers at the NAZ Foundation International and National
Aids Control Office premises in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Police charged the
workers with conspiracy to commit "unnatural sexual acts" and
possession of "obscene material," which was reportedly safe-sex
educational materials. The workers were detained for more than 45 days and
denied bail twice. The court dismissed the case, ruling that the validity of
the law could not be challenged by anyone "not affected by it," as
the defendants had not been charged with a sex act prohibited by law. In April
despite the September 2004 challenge of Section 377 by two gay and lesbian
NGOs, the NAZ Foundation International, and the National Aids Control Office,
the government submitted a petition to the Supreme Court reaffirming the
validity of Section 377.
Homosexuals were detained in clinics against their will and subjected to
treatment aimed at curing them of their homosexuality. The NAZ Foundation
filed a petition with the NHRC regarding a case in which a man was subjected
to shock therapy. The NHRC declined to take the case as gay and lesbian rights
were not under its purview.
Authorities estimated that HIV/AIDS had infected approximately 4.5 million
persons, and there was significant societal discrimination against persons
with the disease. According to the ILO, 70 percent of persons suffering from
HIV/AIDS faced discrimination.
In Ahmedabad in April 2004, an HIV positive woman committed suicide at her
home after allegedly being harassed by her co-workers.
HRW said that many doctors refused to treat HIV-positive children and that
some schools expelled or segregated children because they or their parents
were HIV-positive. Many orphanages and other residential institutions rejected
HIV-positive children or denied them housing. In August the media reported
that an AIDS patient, Arjun Debnath, who was initially refused admission in
several hospitals in West Bengal, was chained to his hospital bed until a
human rights group intervened. In January 2004 a Mumbai High Court ruled that
HIV-positive persons could not be fired on the basis of their medical status.
Homosexual intercourse is a criminal offence; however, the government
rarely prosecuted cases.
Homosexuals did not reveal openly their sexual orientation, and there were
no allegations during the year of discrimination on the basis of sexual
Those suffering from HIV/AIDS faced broad societal discrimination. While
the government has launched education and prevention campaigns, these have
done little to protect victims.
The law criminalizes homosexual activity between men and between women, but
the law was not enforced. NGOs working on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and
transgender issues did not register with the government. During the year human
rights organizations reported that police harassed, extorted money or sexual
favors from, and assaulted gay men in Colombo and other areas.
There was no official discrimination against those who provided HIV
prevention services or against high-risk groups likely to spread HIV/AIDS,
although there was societal discrimination against these groups.
Although there are no laws that prohibit homosexuality, laws against sodomy
and "carnal intercourse against the order of nature" exist and were
enforced. Religious and cultural taboos against homosexuality were widespread.
The government's response to HIV/AIDS was generally nondiscriminatory,
although stigmatization of AIDS sufferers was common.
In December 2003 the NSW government released a study of violence against
homosexuals, which found that more than half of the survey participants had
experienced one or more forms of abuse, harassment, or violence in the
previous 12 months. The report also found that two or more persons who were
unknown to the victim perpetrated most incidents of harassment or violence and
that homosexuals of Middle Eastern background suffered exclusion, assaults,
and stalking from family or community members.
Federal and various state laws prohibit discrimination on the grounds of
HIV positive status. In the 12 months ending June 30, there were 9
discrimination complaints lodged with the federal disability discrimination
commissioner, which is part of HREOC, on the grounds of HIV/AIDS status. These
complaints also were included in the total of 523 disability-related
complaints to HREOC.
Many citizens viewed homosexuals with scorn. Penal code provisions against
"sexually abnormal" behavior were applied to charge gays and
lesbians who drew unfavorable attention to themselves. Nevertheless,
homosexuals had a certain degree of protection through societal traditions.
Transgender performers commonly provided entertainment at traditional
observances. Some were spirit (nat) worshipers and, as such, they had special
standing in the society. They participated in a wellestablished weeklong
festival held near Mandalay every year. The event was considered a religious
event, free of sexual overtones or activities, and was officially approved by
the government. No one, including the military or police, interfered with the
HIVpositive patients were discriminated against, as were the doctors who
China (Taiwan only)
According to a 2003 survey conducted by the Taiwan Homosexual Human Rights
Association, more than 30 percent of homosexuals said they suffered
discrimination. In November 2004 some 4,500 persons took part in a rally to
call for society to respect the civil rights of homosexuals. Societal
discrimination against persons with HIV and AIDS was a problem, and some
politicians made derogatory remarks about such persons. The national health
insurance provides free screening and treatment, including antiretroviral
therapy, for all HIV-infected nationals.
China (includes Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau)
No laws criminalize private homosexual activity between consenting adults.
In 2004 prohibitions on homosexuality were dropped from regulations governing
the behavior of individuals serving sentences.
Gay men and lesbians stated that official tolerance had improved in recent
years. In September a university in Shanghai offered the first undergraduate
course on gay and lesbian studies. In June the Beijing Gay and Lesbian Culture
Festival took place; however, postponement and venue changes were threatened,
which organizers claimed was due to discrimination. A subsequent festival in
December was cancelled, and police raided the venue where organizers
subsequently attempted to gather. Societal discrimination and strong pressure
to conform to family expectations deterred most gay individuals from publicly
discussing their sexual orientation. Published reports said that more than 80
percent of gay men married because of social pressure. In what officials said
was a campaign against pornography, authorities blocked the US-based Web site
gaychinese.net for three months. Other Internet sites on gay issues that were
not sexually explicit were also blocked during the year.
In 2004 the government officially outlawed discrimination against persons
with HIV/AIDS and Hepatitis B. Under the new contagious disease law and
adopted regulations, employment discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS
and Hepatitis B is forbidden, and provisions allow such persons to work as
civil servants. However, discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS remained
widespread in many areas. Hospitals and physicians sometimes refused to treat
HIV-positive patients. The government stated that there were 650 thousand
persons living with HIV/AIDS, a downward revision from a 2002 estimate of 840
thousand people. The government stated the change resulted from improved data
analysis and collection involving an international committee of experts.
The NGO Human Rights Watch reported discrimination against some NGOs
working on HIV/AIDS and against infected persons seeking care and treatment,
especially in some areas of Henan Province where thousands had been infected
in government-run blood selling stations during the 1990s. Some NGOs
criticized the government for failing to distribute funding, medicine, and
services promised by a national program to all rural and urban poor residents
with HIV/AIDS. The government and many foreign experts emphasized that the
promise to provide free care to such residents was a major advance and that
any problems were largely logistical as the government worked to meet its
goals in care and treatment for people with HIV/AIDS. In April, 15 people were
arrested as part of the illegal blood-selling schemes from the 1990s that
caused the HIV infection of thousands. State-run media reported that the
government closed 147 illegal blood-selling stations during the year. While
the government continued to build some special detention facilities for those
with HIV/AIDS, there were no public reports of discrimination against infected
prisoners, such as Wang Guofang and Li Suzhou, whose mistreatment and
difficulty receiving medication while in detention was a subject at the 2004
International AIDS Conference.
There was some societal discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS. Some
individuals received prejudicial treatment at medical centers, saw their
confidential laboratory results released, or had their identity published in a
newspaper. In most if not all such cases, the government failed to take
corrective action. In Papua, where the incidence of HIV infection is
significantly higher than elsewhere in the country, community members and even
families often stigmatized and ostracized those known to be infected with the
virus. However, the government encouraged tolerance, took steps to prevent new
infections, and drew up plans to subsidize antiretroviral drugs.
Some individuals with HIV/AIDS claimed that they were socially marginalized
and faced employment discrimination if they revealed they were suffering from
the disease. The government discouraged discrimination, supported initiatives
that countered misperceptions about HIV/AIDS, and praised employers that
welcomed workers with HIV/AIDS. In July police disapproved the permit for the
fourth annual gay and lesbian beach festival, after having approved the
festival in prior years. In March the MICA minister upheld an MDA decision not
to allow a concert organized by a gay group to raise money for HIV/AIDs.
HIV/AIDS was estimated to have infected approximately 1.5 percent of the
population. During the year the government took measures to improve its
support of persons with HIV/AIDS. For the first time the government began
providing anti-retroviral drugs as part of the country's universal health care
plan. The plan was projected to benefit 100 thousand HIV/AIDS sufferers. In
September the government also approved a $83 million (3.41 billion baht)
program for increased public education concerning HIV/AIDS, including funds
targeted at high-risk groups such as sex workers, young persons and gay males.
The government provided funds to HIV/AIDS support groups and continued public
debate at the highest levels of political leadership. Societal discrimination
against persons with AIDS most often was found in the form of a psychological
stigma associated with rejection by family, friends, and community. In
previous years local AIDS hot lines received reports that some employers
refused to hire persons who tested positive following employer-mandated blood
There was no evidence of official discrimination against persons with
HIV/AIDS, but there was substantial widespread societal discrimination against
persons with HIV/AIDS. There were multiple credible reports that persons with
HIV/AIDS lost jobs or suffered from discrimination in the workplace or in
finding housing. In a few cases children of persons with HIV/AIDS were barred
Within lowland Lao society, there was wide and growing tolerance of
homosexual practice, although societal discrimination persisted.
There was no official discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS, but
social discrimination existed. The government actively promoted tolerance of
those with HIV/AIDS, and during the year it conducted awareness campaigns to
educate the population and promote understanding toward such persons.
Despite increasing public awareness, media and reports from other sources
indicated that societal and job-related discrimination against homosexuals
Discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS does exist primarily due to
lack of understanding of the disease. The government worked with NGOs,
religious groups and business to educate the public both regarding prevention,
and facts about HIV/AIDS.
Societal violence and discrimination against homosexuals was a problem. In
2004 police received reports of 614 crimes with homophobic motive, a 117
percent increase from 2003. The NGO EXPO stated that the trend of increasing
violence against homosexuals is continuing, but police authorities noted that
the significant statistical increase for 2004 reflected in large part a change
in reporting methodologies. The ombudsman against discrimination because of
sexual orientation reported 87 cases during the year, up from 48 cases in
2004, but below the 137 cases reported in 2003.
Persons with HIV/AIDS often encountered discrimination. Federal AIDS law
contains antidiscrimination provisions, but these were frequently not
enforced. HRW reported that HIV-positive mothers and their children faced
discrimination in accessing healthcare, employment, and education. Persons
with HIV/AIDS found themselves alienated from their families, employers, and
medical service providers. For example, a 2003 study of 470 citizens with HIV
found that 10 percent had been forced to leave home by their families, 30
percent had been refused health care and 10 percent had been fired.
Although homosexuality is not illegal, many male homosexuals continued to
suffer discrimination from all levels of society. Medical practitioners
continued to limit or refuse their access to health services due to
intolerance and prejudice. According to recent studies, male homosexuals were
often refused work due to their sexuality. Openly gay men were targets for
skinhead aggression, which was often met with law enforcement indifference.
Homosexuals faced increasing harassment in the larger cities, primarily
from pockets of Muslim youth. Harassment consisted largely of verbal epithets
Discrimination against homosexuals received considerable public and
political attention. In April a Nivelles court convicted a landlord who
refused to lease a house to a same-sex couple. It was the first ever
conviction for discrimination against homosexuals. In May a juvenile court
convicted two youngsters for physically assaulting a homosexual couple, under
the law combating discrimination. The country permits homosexual marriages.
There was at least one allegation of official discrimination against
homosexuals. In June a trial began for a homosexual who claimed that personnel
in the ministries of defense and transport had his drivers' license revoked
because of his sexual orientation. The trial was ongoing at year's end.
There was a strong societal dislike of homosexuality. Homosexuality between
men is illegal and punishable by up to two years in prison; it was believed
that homosexuality between women would also be considered illegal, although it
is not specifically written in law.
Although there were no press reports or official statistics on sexual
orientation discrimination, there were reports of such discrimination.
Representatives of international organizations reported social attitudes
towards marginalized groups, including homosexuals, impeded these groups'
willingness to come forward and consequently their access to HIV/AIDS
The law prohibits discrimination against persons with HIV and AIDS;
however, observers report that cultural stigmas against drug users and other
at-risk groups continue to affect general access to information, services,
treatment and care.
The law prohibits discrimination on the basis of HIV status and sexual
orientation, although in practice discrimination was widespread. There were
reports of violence and discrimination by public and private actors against
persons with HIV/AIDS, and against homosexual, lesbian, and transgender
persons, including denial of legal registration for a homosexual rights
advocacy group (see section 2.b.).
A July Pan-American Health Organization report revealed that HIV/AIDS
patients suffered from a lack of information and supplies. Lack of public
information remained a problem in confronting discrimination against persons
with HIV/AIDS or in assisting persons suffering from HIV/AIDS. According to a
National Health Survey presented in September, only half of the population
between the ages of 15 and 24 were sufficiently aware of methods for
preventing HIV infection.
In July the Ministry of Health conducted a public awareness campaign
regarding HIV/AIDS, using billboards, advertisements and informational events.
In September the Ministry of Labor launched a campaign to eliminate labor
discrimination based on pregnancy or HIV status.
Between November 7 and 11, the government hosted Central America's first
regional summit on HIV/AIDS to raise awareness about the disease and available
In September two bodyguards of the prisons director were accused of
sexually abusing a transvestite minor whom they picked up on the streets in a
government vehicle. By year's end a court had ordered them released on bail
There were no developments during the year regarding an investigation into
the March 2004 separate killings of transvestite Jose Flores Natividad Duran
and transvestite David Antonio Andrade Castellano.
There were no reported developments regarding an investigation into the
2003 killings of transvestites Jose Cornado Galdamez, Reyes Armando Aguilar,
and Jose Roberto de Paz.
The Offenses against the Person Act prohibits "acts of gross
indecency" (generally interpreted as any kind of physical intimacy)
between men, in public or in private, which are punishable by 10 years in
prison. Although Prime Minister Patterson stated that the country would not be
pressured to change its antihomosexual laws, in October a parliamentary
committee proposed a combined national public debate on the legality of
homosexuality and prostitution as matters of public health.
The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All Sexuals, and Gays (J-FLAG) continued to
report allegations of human rights abuses, including police harassment,
arbitrary detention, mob attacks, stabbings, harassment of homosexual patients
by hospital and prison staff, and targeted shootings of homosexuals. Police
often did not investigate such incidents. J-FLAG documented a number of
instances of homophobic violence during the year, some of which resulted in
charges brought to court, while others were never reported to authorities by
reason of fear.
On November 30, Lenford "Steve" Harvey, who operated Jamaican
AIDS Support for Life, was killed on the eve of World AIDS Day. At least four
men broke into Harvey's home, stole items, and kidnapped Harvey. Two of
Harvey's associates who were in the home at the time reported that they were
asked if they were gay; they answered negatively but Harvey did not reply, and
the intruders took him from his home. Several hours later he was found shot to
death in a rural area some miles from his home. At year's end the police had a
number of suspects under investigation. A senior JCF official familiar with
the Harvey killing reported that the suspects were also linked to other
similar robbery-murders whose victims were apparently heterosexual, and he
cautioned against categorizing Harvey's death as a hate crime pending further
evidence. The JCF appointed political ombudsman Bishop Herro Blair as an
independent civilian monitor to oversee the investigation.
In December a homophobic mob allegedly chased homosexual Nokia Cowen off a
pier at Kingston Harbor where he drowned. At year's end the police had not
identified any suspects in the killing.
In June 2004 Brian Williamson, a prominent homosexual rights activist and
founding member of J-FLAG, was found stabbed to death at his home in Kingston.
Human rights groups believed that the brutality of Williamson's death
indicated a hate crime, but the JCF maintained that the crime was a robbery. A
suspect remained in custody at year's end awaiting trial.
Also in June 2004 a group of armed men, reportedly including famous
dancehall artist Mark Myrie, a.k.a. Buju Banton, forced their way into a house
in Kingston and beat six men while shouting homophobic insults. Banton plead
not guilty to the charges on September 21, and was released on less than $1
thousand (J$50 thousand) bail. The court extended Myrie's bail on September 30
and again on October 19, when the court relaxed its conditions, requiring that
he report to his local police station once per week.
Male inmates deemed by prison wardens to be homosexual are held in a
separate facility for their protection. The method used for determining their
sexual orientation is subjective and not regulated by the prison system,
although inmates were said to admit their homosexuality for their own safety.
There were numerous reports of violence against homosexual inmates,
perpetrated both by the wardens and by other inmates, but few inmates sought
recourse through the prison system.
Homosexual men were hesitant to report incidents against them because of
fear for their physical wellbeing. Human rights NGOs and government entities
agreed that brutality against homosexuals, both by police and private
citizens, was widespread in the community.
No laws protected persons living with HIV/AIDS from discrimination. Human
rights NGOs reported severe stigma and discrimination against this group.
Although health care facilities were prepared to handle patients with
HIV/AIDS, health care workers often neglected such patients.
Despite the absence of formal prohibitions, homosexuals faced extensive
discrimination. There were indications during the year that homosexual rights
gained a higher profile. On July 16, several hundred lesbians, homosexuals,
and bisexuals marched in downtown Lima for the fourth consecutive year.
Congresswoman Cecilia Tait, author of a draft law prohibiting sexual
discrimination, addressed the marchers. Press reports announced the formation
of a group of parents of homosexuals designed to promote understanding of
homosexual family members and to provide mutual support.
While homosexuals experienced a growing social acceptance, the National
Center to Prevent and Control HIV/AIDS (CONASIDA) stated that discrimination
persisted. Homophobic beliefs and practices were common, reflected principally
in entertainment media programs and everyday attitudes. Reports of attacks
against homosexuals and transsexuals were frequent.
The law prohibits several types of discrimination, including bias based on
sexuality, and requires federal agencies to promote tolerance. In April the
government launched a radio campaign to fight homophobia with material
prepared by the CONASIDA.
A nationwide government survey released in May recorded that 44 percent of
respondents said they would not share a house with an HIV-positive person, and
42 percent would not seek government intervention if their town banned
There were several incidents of harassment of, violent attacks on, and
killing of homosexuals. On June 21, unknown assailants stabbed and killed
Octavio Acuna while he worked in his condom shop in Queretaro. Acuna was a
prominent human rights activist who campaigned for the rights of persons with
HIV/AIDS and worked for a sexual education association; the legal
representative of the Queretana Association for Sexual Education, to which
Octavio belonged, said that she considered Octavio's killing an act of
homophobia. An investigation continued at year's end.
Societal discrimination occurred against persons with HIV/AIDS,
particularly women, but educational programs sponsored by foreign donors,
including a grant to a local clinic and efforts by HIV/AIDS activists,
attempted to change that stigma.
Societal discrimination against homosexuals persisted, as police
occasionally conducted sweeps in areas where homosexuals congregated,
particularly along sections of Havana's waterfront.
The government restricted persons found to be HIV-positive to sanatoriums
for treatment and therapy before conditionally releasing them into the
community. Even after their release, some persons with HIV/AIDS said the
government monitored their movements with a de-facto chaperone to prevent the
spread of the illness. HIV/AIDS sufferers also asserted that state medical
professionals frequently failed to respect confidentiality, with the result
that their condition was known widely throughout their neighborhoods. Some
persons with HIV/AIDS said the government only offered them jobs incompatible
with their medical condition.