Societal Abuses, Discrimination, and Acts of Violence Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The law prohibits "acts of gross indecency" (generally interpreted as any kind of physical intimacy) between men, in public or in private, which are punishable by 10 years in prison.
The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All Sexuals, and Gays (J-FLAG) continued to report human rights abuses, including arbitrary detention, mob attacks, stabbings, harassment of gay and lesbian patients by hospital and prison staff, and targeted shootings of such persons. Police often did not investigate such incidents. During the year, J-FLAG received 43 reports of sexually motivated harassment or abuse, which included 26 cases of attempted or actual assault, including three murders and three cases of rape. This violence created a climate of fear that prompted many gay persons to emigrate, while the gross indecency laws left those who remained vulnerable to extortion from neighbors who threatened to report them to the police unless they were paid off.
In September six men brutally gang-raped a lesbian woman and cut her genitals after the assault ended. These men had previously taunted their victim, and this attack typified a phenomenon known as "corrective rape," whereby rapists justify their actions under the rationale that forcing their victim into sex will somehow convert the injured party to heterosexuality. Three days later a taxi driver raped another lesbian woman in an unrelated attack staged in the same northern parish of St. Ann’s. J-FLAG protested both rapes, stating that the women were attacked because of their sexual orientation. The organization believed that, as with heterosexual women, many homosexual rape victims were hesitant to report their abuse out of fear, shame, or for any number of personal reasons, suggesting that the actual incidence of sexual violence perpetrated against such persons could be notably higher.
J-FLAG members also suffered attacks on their property and home intrusions, as people demanded to know the number of persons and beds in a home. Victims reported numerous cases of threats and intimidation to J-FLAG. In many instances family members expelled their own relatives from homes because of sexual orientation. In other cases neighbors drove gay and lesbian persons out of their communities, slashing tires and hurling insults. Many gays and lesbians faced death and arson threats, with some threats also directed at J-FLAG offices.
As a result of such threats, J-FLAG elected not to publicize its location, and one of its officials reported feeling unsafe having meetings with clients at the organization’s office.
The trial of six suspects arrested for the 2005 robbery and murder of prominent gay rights advocate Lenford "Steve" Harvey, initially begun and then postponed in 2007, was scheduled to recommence in early 2011.
Male inmates deemed by prison wardens to be gay were held in a separate facility for their protection. The method used for determining their sexual orientation was subjective and not regulated by the prison system, although inmates were said to confirm their homosexuality for their own safety. There were numerous reports of violence against gay inmates, perpetrated by the wardens and by other inmates, but few inmates sought recourse through the prison system.
Gay men were hesitant to report incidents against them because of fear for their physical well-being. Human rights NGOs and government entities agreed that brutality against such persons, primarily by private citizens, was widespread in the community.
Other Societal Violence or Discrimination
No laws protect persons with HIV/AIDS from discrimination. Human rights NGOs reported severe stigma and discrimination against this group. The International Labor Organization (ILO) worked with the Ministry of Labor on a program to reduce the stigma of HIV/AIDS in the workplace and to assist employers in designing policies for workers with HIV/AIDS. Health-care facilities were prepared to handle patients with HIV/AIDS, but health-care workers often neglected such patients. The Ministry of Labor, in conjunction with the ILO and the Ministry of Health, conducted workplace education programs on HIV/AIDS issues. Laws banning homosexual acts and societal attitudes prevented distribution of condoms in prisons and similar institutions.
Academic Freedom and Cultural Events
There were no government restrictions on academic freedom.
With respect to cultural events, the Jamaica Broadcasting Commission (JBC) sought to regulate and limit the dissemination of certain popular music deemed inconsistent with public morality. Since 2009 the JBC banned certain lyrics deemed inappropriate to broadcast, including dancehall songs referring to the simulation of aggressive or violent sex, and employed editing methods to expunge lyrics thought unfit for broadcast. The commission stated that its directive was aimed at "all types of musical broadcast output, including soca music and carnival music."