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This politician wants to tackle homophobic bullying in schools in a country where gay sex is illegal

This politician wants to tackle homophobic bullying in schools in a country where gay sex is illegal

Ronald Thwaites wants to tackle homophobic bullying in Jamaica

Jamaica’s Minister for Education has launched what is possibly an impossible task, tackling homophobia in a country where gay sex is illegal.

Ronald Thwaites has said he hopes to include LGBTI people in his new safety guidelines to be included in curriculum at the beginning of this coming school year.

Gay sex between two men is punishable by up to 10 years in jail in Jamaica.

‘A number of civil society groups including members of the LGBT fraternity have raised with me issues of bullying,’ he has said. ‘It is of serious concern and the policy of the government and of the ministry to protect the sexual integrity of everyone, so the fact they raise the concern is an important issue for us.’

While it is unclear how exactly Thwaites is going to tackle homophobic bullying, he said he has seen a draft and he believes it is ‘off to a good start’

Speaking to the Jamaican Gleaner, he said while LGBTI students are most often bullied when they are teens, it is ‘imperative that the material is universal and age appropriate’.

Sections of the Child Care and Protection Act will also be included in the manual, which will also include guidance on cyber bullying and human trafficking.

In Jamaica, LGBTI teens are often thrown out to live on the streets and in sewers while living in fear of being murdered by a mob.

In her campaign, Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller pledged to review the sodomy law but once elected then said decriminalizing gay sex was not a priority of her government. The law has wide public support, with 91% of Jamaicans saying they support homosexuality being illegal.