Cries for equal rights in Jamaica

The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, all
Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) is urging Parliament to make provisions to protect
the human rights of all Jamaicans, and provide a framework to reduce
discrimination against all persons, including lesbians, gays, bisexuals and

The group said they also wanted
provisions made for persons with disabilities and persons affected by health
conditions like HIV in the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms.

Parliamentarians are expected to
cast their vote on the Charter of Rights Bill this week, Prime Minister Bruce
Golding announced.

Golding, who had piloted the Bill
in the Lower House of Parliament and closed the debate, last December, said the
vote will be taken in the Lower House today, Tuesday, and then the provision
will be sent to the Senate for further debate.

“J-FLAG wishes to advise that
this Charter should serve as the basis of human rights recognition for all in a
society, where its basic laws are based on the concepts of inclusivity and
dignity, and on an appreciation of contemporary science on human sexuality, not
on prejudice, fear, habit and misinformation,” said J-Flag.

The group maintained that lesbian,
gay, bisexual and transgender persons continue to be victimised by members of
the public and the state and therefore wants them covered under the
non-discrimination clause.

“Passing the Charter of
Fundamental Rights and Freedoms without clear recognition that disability,
health status and sexual orientation are the grounds for non-discrimination in
Section 13 (3) (i) would be to undermine the strides that have been made globally
to guarantee human rights for all persons in a society,” J-FLAG said.

At a minimum, the group wants
Section 13 (3) (i) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms to read
“the right to freedom from discrimination”.