Concluding Observations, E/C.12/JAM/CO/3-4, 17 May 2013: Jamaica
8. While noting the adoption of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms in April 2011, the Committee is concerned at the narrow scope of prohibited grounds for discrimination, which is limited to “(i) being male or female; (ii) race, place of origin, social class, colour, religion or political opinions”, thus failing to prohibit discrimination on the basis of other grounds, such as sexual orientation, disability and health.
The Committee calls upon the State party to amend its laws to adopt a comprehensive anti-discrimination framework law, in accordance with article 2, paragraph 2, of the Covenant, and taking into account general comment No. 20 (2009) on non-discrimination in economic, social and cultural rights.
9. The Committee is concerned that consensual same-sex relations continue to be criminalized under the Offences Against the Person Act, thus perpetrating discrimination against homosexual, bisexual and transsexual persons in all spheres of life, including their enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights (art. 2). The Committee recommends that the State party: (a) Decriminalize same-sex relations between consenting adults through necessary legislative amendments; (b) Take concrete, deliberate and targeted measures to eliminate discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation; and (c) Send a clear public message that any form of discrimination, harassment or violence against individuals for their sexual orientation is not tolerated, and swiftly and effectively investigate, prosecute and sanction individuals for such acts.
28. While the Committee welcomes the decline in HIV-related deaths and mother-to-child transmission of HIV and the efforts made by the State party to combat HIV/AIDS and the stigma that is associated with it, the Committee regrets and remains concerned that:
(a) HIV continues to be one of the leading causes of death among adults in the State party;
(b) HIV rates remain high among youth, men in same-sex relationships, sex workers, homeless persons and drug users, whose behaviours are criminalized and/or considered immoral;
(c) Almost two thirds of HIV-infected persons are unaware of their status; and
(d) Stigma and discrimination against persons living with HIV/AIDS continue to persist, including in the workplace, particularly in relation to men in same-sex relationships and transgender persons, which not only prevents their access to essential medicines and treatment and their enjoyment of other economic, social and cultural rights, but risks undermining efforts to eradicate HIV (art. 12).
The Committee calls upon the State party to provide adequate human and financial resources to effectively implement the National HIV/STI Programme to ensure that any progress achieved so far is not reversed. The Committee also requests the State party to ensure that discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS is prohibited under its legislation, and to repeal or amend laws that stigmatize and increase the vulnerability of those most at risk.
Link to full text of the report: Concluding Observations-CESCR-Jamaica-2013-eng