GORDON House has begun advertising for submissions to two new joint select committees appointed to deliberate on the recently announced Road Traffic Bill and the sexual offences legislations.
The joint select committee on the sexual offences legislations will be reviewing four bills -- the Child Care and Protection Act, the Domestic Violence Act, the Offences Against the Person Act and the Sexual Offences Act, which is having its first five-year review having been promulgated in 2009.
Among other issues the committee will look at are offences and punishment under these Acts, placing special emphasis on the protection of the most vulnerable (women, children, the elderly and persons living with disabilities) from violence and abuse.
Chairman of this committee and Minister of Justice, Senator Mark Golding, has acknowledged that with the review open to public submissions, it is not unlikely that issues such as the repeal of the buggery law, as well as the treatment of what he called "sexual minorities" including lesbian, gay, bisexuals, and transgenders (LGBTs), could dominate the deliberations.
However, he said that other issues, such as the common approach to sexual deviance in the region and its effect on public health programmes, including HIV/AIDS, will also be highlighted during the review.
Golding has confirmed dialogue with representatives of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to assist with the case for the reform of provisions for intimacy in private among consenting consulting adults, with particular focus on public health disadvantages and the fight against HIV/AIDS.
The LGBT community has often criticised Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller for failing to deliver on her 2011 election platform pledge to review the country's buggery law. Golding has said that he would not be surprised if the contending parties used the opportunity provided by the review to make their cases for and against repealing the legislation, but made it clear that this should not be seen as the aim of the exercise.
Opposition Leader Andrew Holness has suggested a referendum to decide the issue, contending that a conscience vote in Parliament would not be effective.
The long-awaited Road Traffic Bill has been drafted to modernise and update current legislation by making the Island Traffic Authority (ITA) the licensing authority and delegating its functions; broadening the role of the Road Traffic Appeal Tribunal; providing for the reclassification of all forms of vehicles; introducing new classes of driver's licences and attaching conditions to the granting of these licences; and dealing with the transportation of dangerous and hazardous substances.
However, the major issue has been the significant increases in the fines for breaches of the proposed new provisions, which has raised concern among the public.
With the interference of anti gay voices such as Shirley Richards and Rev Al Miller(presently on trial for perverting the course of justice) this was what the 1999 report read like in part and the joint select committee requested:
The Committee urges J. Flag to carry out further research as to
(i) the Constitutions which guarantee protection against discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation;
(ii) the laws which would be inconsistent with such a constitutional provision;
(iii) scientific data as to the causes of homosexuality;
and (iv) whether there has been an increase in homosexuality following on such a liberalization of the law in other countries.
The Committee is not at present disposed, however, to include in the Charter of Rights a guarantee of protection from discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation, because of the implications which this would have, in particular, its implications in relation to the institution of marriage and questions of parenting. It would, however, bring to the attention of the Government, as a matter for consideration, the issue of the repeal of the provisions of the Offences Against the Person Act in so far as it relates to the offence of buggery between consenting adults in private.
Justice Minister reiterates his personal position on the Buggery Law, Anal Intercourse, Consent & Privacy
and an associated podcast:
Coincidentally the upcoming challenge in the Supreme Court by Javed Jaghai et al is on November 21 this year as well.
2. Expert report of Professor Chis Breyer to be filed Dec 9, 2013 which speaks to the impact of the anti-sodomy law on the HIV epidemic among MSM in Jamaica.
3. Affidavit of Defendant (AG) to filed 31 Jan 2014
4. Affidavit of Interested Parties to be filed and served by 28 Feb 2014
5. Both Claimants to file and serve their affidavits in response by 4th April 2014
6. Statements of Facts & Issues as well as Listing Questionnaires to be filed by each party and served by April 30, 2014
7. Pre Trial Review to be held on 14th May 2014 for 3 hours
8. Any further application intending to be heard along with written submissions should be filed and served on or before 24 April 2014
9. Trial fixed for November 10 -21st 2014
10. Claimants Attorneys to file and serve order
The AG is preparing the order for the strike out.
The judged refused the strike out application in whole but said that unless the claimant can provide notification of attendance at trial by DEC.9 the paragraphs in his affidavit (para. 18) with mention of reports would be struck out.
The claimant has to provide a notice of attendance for the following persons who prepared reports on the situation for Jamaican LGBT individuals:
1. Human Rights Watch
2. Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)
3. J-FLAG STATISTICS
4. SHADOW REPORT for the UN Universal Periodic Review
5. TIMES AND ECONOMIST Magazines
J-FLAG finally shows open Support for the Constitutional Challenge to Buggery Law by Javed Jaghai
JFLAG Position Statement on Upcoming Conscience Vote on Jamaica’s Buggery Law
Hardened Positions by Religious Fanatics & Their LGBT Detractors Will Only Leave More Blood on the Floor
Peace and tolerance