We’re launching a challenge to Jamaica’s anti-sodomy law

Last Thursday, international Human Rights Day (December 10), senior policy analyst Maurice Tomlinson publicly launched a legal challenge to Jamaica’s anti-sodomy law, arguing that it violates the constitutional rights of LGBTI people. It has made news across the country — including an endorsement from the Jamaica Gleaner, the country’s most influential newspaper — and around the world, with stories appearing in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Advocate, and on CBC’s “As It Happens,” to name just a few.

This is going to be a challenging case and it may even require appealing all the way up to the Privy Council in the United Kingdom (still the final court of appeal for Jamaica). We have evidence, reason and human rights law on our side, but in order to get there – we’ll also need resources.

If you support this action and the work that will be required to follow through with this important human rights litigation, please consider contributing to the Legal Network today.


Jamaican law criminalizes consensual intimate conduct between men, including through a colonial-era prohibition on “gross indecency” between men and a provision that outlaws the “abominable crime of buggery” (i.e., anal sex, including between any people of any sex). In addition, any person convicted of such offences now also faces mandatory registration, monitoring and potential additional penalties as a “sex offender.” The law weighs heavily on LGBTI people. Not only does it directly infringe numerous rights recognized by Jamaica’s Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, it also contributes to stigma and prejudice, fueling horrific violence against LGBTI people and damaging efforts to deliver HIV prevention, testing, treatment and care.

Learn more about the context in this Q&A, prepared by the Legal Network and AIDS-Free World, with whom we are supporting this challenge.

Maurice has been preparing for this claim since joining the Legal Network earlier this year. Part of a broader strategy to support LGBTI human rights in the Caribbean, this litigation has required careful planning and preparation. Maurice worked alongside a litigation strategy group of lawyers from the Legal Network and AIDS-Free World, as well as outside counsel, to research and outline the best possible legal route for this case.

We expect this to be a long road ahead, but we’re in this to win! A donation to the Legal Network will provide us with the necessary resources to ensure the greatest opportunity for success, which will make a huge impact in the lives of LGBTI people in Jamaica and indeed throughout the Caribbean. It will also support our numerous other activities designed to defend the human rights of those living with and affected by HIV. Consider joining Right(s) Now today.

And stay tuned.


Your contribution is especially valuable at this time, since all donations made between now and December 31 will be matched up to $50,000 Please support our work now by making a donation and participating in Charlie’s Challenge.

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