C. Principal matters of concern and recommendations

Prohibition of discrimination

15. The Committee is concerned that the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms does not protect all persons against all forms of discrimination and contains saving clauses that are contrary to the provisions of the Covenant. It regrets that the right to freedom from discrimination is based only on the grounds of “being male or female” and fails to prohibit discrimination on other grounds, such as sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, disability and health status. The Committee reiterates its concern (see CCPR/C/JAM/CO/3, para. 8) that the State party continues to retain provisions under the Offences against the Person Act that criminalizes consensual same-sex relationships, thus promoting discrimination against homosexuals (arts. 2, 3, 17 and 26).

16. The State party should amend its laws and enact comprehensive anti- discrimination legislation to prohibit all forms of discrimination. It should also decriminalize sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex in order to bring its legislation into compliance with the Covenant and put an end to prejudices and the social stigmatization of homosexuality. Saving clauses in the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms relating to the Offences against the Person Act and Sexual Offences Act should be removed where they obstruct the amendment of legislation that enhances the rights of women or any other group.

Attacks against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons

17. Despite some positive developments, such as the adoption of the Diversity Policy by the Jamaica Constabulary Force, in 2011, and a reported increase in the level of tolerance within Jamaican society, the Committee notes with concern reports of incidents of discrimination, harassment and violent attacks against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons and the alleged failure of the State party to prevent and investigate such attacks (arts. 2, 6 and 26).

18. The State party should ensure that cases of violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons are thoroughly investigated, that the perpetrators are prosecuted, and if convicted, punished with appropriate sanctions, and that the victims have access to effective remedies. The State party should conduct a national campaign to disseminate information about human rights and promote respect for diversity and the rights of all persons, especially lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons.

People living with HIV/AIDS

19. The Committee is concerned at the persistence of discrimination and stigmatization of people living with HIV/AIDS and the high proportion of girls aged 15 to 19 years infected with the virus. While welcoming the adoption of the National Integrated Strategic Plan for Sexual Health and HIV (2014-2019) and the National Workplace Policy on HIV/AIDS, the Committee is concerned with the lack of an enabling legislative framework to ensure their effective implementation (arts. 2 and 26).

20. The State party should amend its legislation to include protection against discrimination based on health status and to ensure better protection of people living with HIV/AIDS, including vulnerable segments of the population, such as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons, and women and girls who have contracted HIV, especially as a result of sexual violence. The State party should intensify its work with stakeholders and allocate adequate financial and human resources to implement the National Workplace Policy on HIV/AIDS and to ensure the adequate functioning of the National HIV-related Discrimination Reporting and Redress System. It should also continue its awareness-raising efforts to combat stigmatization and discrimination of people living with HIV/AIDS.

Link to full text of the report: Concluding Observations-CCPR-Jamaica-2016-eng

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