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Most Jamaicans want to keep same-sex activity illegal

Most Jamaicans want to keep same-sex activity illegal

Pride-goers enjoying the beach at Montego Bay Pride in Jamaica.

New research has showed most Jamaicans want to still keep the ban on gay sex.

LGBTI organisation, the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG), commissioned the research.

It found between seven and 30% of the population identified as LGBTI. The research also found that 97% of people had very little understanding of trans people and trans issues.

‘Over the last couple of years, we have seen some improvement in the situation where LGBT people are concerned. I think there is respect and tolerance for the community, but we are still a very far way from where we need to go,’ J-Flag’s executive director, Jaevion Nelson told a Gleaner forum.

Nelson said bullying and discrimination was still a huge issue for LGBTI people. But  he felt heartened by findings that 68% of employers and 88% of politicians would report violence against LGBTIs. But only 34% of the general public would do so.

‘There is still discrimination against a number of persons at work, church, in their communities, at schools, by way of bullying, and in other spaces, particular in public spaces,’ Nelson said.

Too scared to be on the streets

Nelson also told the forum that LGBTI were often afraid to go out in public because of extreme levels of LGBTI-phobia. He said many people took taxis everywhere to guarantee their safety. But this was not an affordable option for all people.

‘Ultimately, those LGBT people who do not have the wherewithal and money to take cabs an go to spaces where respect and tolerance are higher find it difficult,’ he said.

The Caribbean nation of Jamaica has been described as one of the most homophobic places in the world. Male same-sex activity is illegal there and the LGBTI community faces extreme levels of violence and discrimination.

‘LGBT Jamaicans are vulnerable to both physical and sexual violence and many live in constant fear,’ a 2014 Human Rights Watch report said.