The Jamaican Supreme Court determined last Friday that the so-called “saving laws clause” in the Jamaican constitution prevents it from inquiring into the constitutionality of the three sections of the Offences Against the Person Act that criminalize same-sex intimacy. This misguided decision denies Jamaicans the means to protect their constitutional and human rights, and further entrenches homophobic colonial-era laws within Jamaica’s justice system at a time when courts around the world are repeatedly finding that similar laws violate human rights.
The HIV Legal Network is incredibly disappointed with this unfortunate decision, which prioritizes an impoverished interpretation of the Jamaican constitution over the human rights of LGBTQ+ people in Jamaica. Punitive laws will continue to criminalize LGBTQ+ people in Jamaica, further fuelling the stigma and prejudice that results in horrific violence against them and damages efforts to deliver HIV prevention services, testing, treatment, and care.
We believe that justice must and will be realized for LGBTQ+ people living in Jamaica. We will now work with partners and other committed advocates as we consider possible next steps, despite this difficult setback.