Gay student challenges Jamaica’s anti-sodomy law

A gay student from Jamaica is set to challenge the legality of the country's anti-sodomy law

Gay student challenges Jamaica’s anti-sodomy law
13 February 2013

Javed Jaghai, a student and Jamaican gay rights activist has initiated a challenge to the country’s anti-sodomy law.

AIDS-Free World, a Jamaican advocacy charity, filed a complaint against the law with Jamaica’s Supreme Court on behalf of Jaghai on February 7.

Jaghai says his landlord evicted him from his home because of his sexual orientation.

Posting on his Facebook page, Jaghai stated yesterday (12 February): ‘It is a reminder that there is much more work to be done to achieve equality for gay Jamaicans.

‘We can sit patiently while our humanity is denied and wait for the paradigm to shift in a generation or two, or we can aggressively agitate for change now. I choose to do the latter’.

Jamaica’s anti-sodomy law, originally introduced by the British colonial government, dates back to 1864 and punishes private consensual same-sex acts with up to 10 years in prison with hard labor.

Jaghai and AIDS-Free World say the law contradicts Jamaica’s Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms which explicitly guarantees the right to privacy.

Speaking with Gay Star News, Maurice Tomlinson, a Jamaican lawyer with AIDS-Free World said: ‘it is arguable that under the new constitution it is now impossible to enforce the anti-sodomy law without breaching the new right to privacy. 

‘Although the Jamaican government has resisted calls to repeal the law, the leaders of Jamaica’s major political parties have repeatedly said that they have no intention of prying into the bedrooms of consenting adults.

‘Confusion about the interpretation of these competing provisions in the Charter is wreaking havoc on the private lives of Jamaican gay individuals’.

The US State Department, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have all criticized the Jamaican government for not doing enough to curb anti-LGBT violence in the country.

The court hearing for Jaghai’s case is set for the 25 June. 

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