Jamaica

At a glance

Same Sex
Relations
Legal?

NO

Legal Gender
Recognition
Possible?

NO

LGBTI Orgs
Able to
Register?

YES

Actions Related
to SOGI at
the UN

2016: Opposed IE SOGi

Overview

LGBTIQ identities are criminalized under Jamaica’s Colonial-era Penal Code which prohibits same-sex relations (known as ‘buggery laws’), as well as by virtue of public decency laws. Although these laws do not explicitly mention gender identity or expression, law enforcement officials often conflate gender identity with sexual orientation, and, as such, these laws are also used to criminalize gender identity which does not correspond with the norms associated with the sex assigned at birth. Under these laws, police target, abuse, and extort LGBTIQ individuals. There are several ongoing challenges to Jamaica’s ‘buggery’ laws. The media generally depicts the LGBTIQ community negatively and sensationalizes LGBTIQ issues. Jamaica’s censorship laws have been used to censor media presenting positive depictions of LGBTIQ people. The Christian Church plays a strong cultural role in Jamaica, influencing norms around gender and sexuality. Influential religious and political leaders often publicly disparage LGBTIQ people as immoral and there is a pervasive culture of toxic masculinity in parts of Jamaica. As such, societal acceptance of LGBTIQ people is low and LGBTIQ people are subject to violent attacks, discrimination, harassment, and social stigmatization. LGBTIQ visibility and activism has recently increased, and several trans people have been able to obtain legal gender recognition despite the absence of procedures.