Treatment of bisexuals [JAM33304.E]

No reports specific to the treatment of bisexuals could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. However, the following information may be useful.

Same-sex activities between consenting males are criminalized under sections 76-79 of the Penal Code, which provide penalties of up to 10 years imprisonment and hard labour for homosexual intercourse, and up to seven years imprisonment, with or without hard labour, for anyone attempting to commit homosexual acts or an "indecent assault" on another male person (ILGA 11 July 1999) Same-sex activities between females are not mentioned in the legislation (ibid.).

A 21 May 1999 AP report states that although the law against homosexuality is not enforced, some Jamaicans consider it a "license to harass homosexuals." Other media reports indicate that hostility toward gays bordering on homophobia is widespread in Jamaican society (IPS 13 Jan. 1999; ibid. 23 Sept. 1999; The Journal 8 Jan. 1999; Caribbean Today 31 Jan. 1999). According to a report in Caribbean Today, "no proposition so inflames the general Jamaican populace as the notion that homosexuals ought to be allowed to live in peace like anyone else, without harassment or undue legal impediments" (ibid.). In early 1999 Justice Minister K.D. Knight dismissed calls for repeal of the law criminalizing homosexuality, stating that "the law is founded in a moral imperative which has not changed" (The Journal 8 Jan. 1999; AP 21 May 1999). Homosexuals who "come out" or display their sexual preference publicly could be subject to name calling, harassment, threats and other forms of intimidation (ibid.; Caribbean Today 31 Jan. 1999). Lyrics to some popular songs advocate that homosexuals should be shot in the head (IPS 13 Jan. 1999; Caribbean Today 31 Jan. 1999). Following the early 1999 establishment of the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG), radio talk shows were flooded with calls from people threatening violence if supporters of the organization moved to bring a higher profile to gay rights issues (IPS 23 Sept. 1999; ibid. 13 Jan. 1999; AP 21 May 1999). Many Jamaicans reportedly believe that homosexuality is synonymous with paedophilia, and that paediatric HIV/AIDS is caused by the sexual abuse of children by gay men (Caribbean Today 31 Jan. 1999).

According to a report in The Journal, in August 1997 prison inmates killed 16 fellow prisoners they believed to be homosexuals (8 Jan. 1999).

The 6 September 1999 issue of The Jamaica Gleaner reported that the policemen charged in the Agana Barrett murder case offered as a defence their belief that Barrett was a homosexual and was touching other men, and that he was killed for this reason.

Caribbean Today reports that in Jamaica homosexuals have been forced from their homes, driven out of their jobs, abused by the police and harassed and assaulted by co-workers, neighbours and strangers (31 July 1999). The report states that it is "rare ... for the ... police to investigate a murder when it appears the victim's death was connected to his being gay" (ibid.). Most at risk are those who live in working-class circumstances, states the report, but even those who enjoy the relative protection of middle-class society are subject to abuses (ibid.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


The Associated Press (AP). 21 May 1999. Michelle Faul. "Caribbean 'Lovers Paradise' Can Be Ordeal for Gays." (NEXIS)

Caribbean Today. 31 January 1999. Gilbert Dunkley. "Jamaica Should Make Its Gay Citizens Welcome." (The Ethnic NewsWatch/NEXIS)

International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA). 11 July 1999 (last update). "World Legal Survey: Jamaica." jamaica.htm [Accessed 6 Dec. 1999]

Inter Press Service (IPS). 23 September 1999. Scott Seymour. "Population-Montserrat: No Plans to Lift Ban on Homosexuality." (NEXIS)

_____. 13 January 1999. Carmen Wade-Barrett. "Rights-Jamaica: Gays Fighting to Get Out of the Closet." (NEXIS)

The Jamaica Gleaner [Kingston]. 6 September 1999. Diana McCauley. "Political Crime and Confession." http://www.g.../gleaner/19990906/cleisure/c7.html [Accessed 6 Dec. 1999]

The Journal. 8 January 1999. "Jamaica Says Will Not Abolish Ban on Homosexuality, Says Knight." (The Ethnic NewsWatch/NEXIS)

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB databases


World News Coonection (WNC)

Internet sites, including:

Amnesty International.

Derechos Human Rights.

Gay and Lesbian International News Network (GLINN).

Human Rights Watch (HRW).

International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC).

International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA).

Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG).

Jamaica Observer [Kingston].

Magnus Hirschfeld Centre for Human Rights.