A young Jamaican gay rights activist who brought an unprecedented legal challenge to the Caribbean island’s anti-sodomy law has withdrawn the claim after growing fearful about violent backlashes, advocacy groups and colleagues said Friday.
Last year, Javed Jaghai made headlines after initiating a constitutional court challenge to Jamaica’s 1864 law that bans sex between men. He argued that the anti-sodomy law fuels homophobia and violates a charter of human rights adopted in 2011 that guarantees people the right to privacy.
But in an affidavit, Jaghai said he has been “threatened enough times to know that I am vulnerable.” The 25-year-old man believes his “loved ones are under threat” by intolerant people and the drawn-out court challenge is causing too much stress and anxiety.
Jamaican activist Maurice Tomlinson provided some context for Jaghai’s decision, posting the following list of anti-gay attacks and protests since the challenge to the anti-sodomy law was filed in February 2013:
JAMAICAN ANTI-GAY ATTACKS AND PROTESTS
July 22, 2013: 16 year-old Dwayne Jones was stabbed, shot, run over by a car, and subsequently dumped in a nearby ditch for wearing a dress to a public street dance in Montego Bay. No one has been arrested for this murder.
Aug 1, 2013: A mob attacked a police officer in downtown Kingston because they accused him of being gay. He had to be rescued by other officers firing shots in the air and teargas into the crowd. No one was arrested.
Aug. 1, 2013: A mob attacked the home of two gay persons in St. Catherine. They too had to be rescued by police. No one was arrested.
Aug. 10, 2013: A mob attacked a cross-dresser in St. Catherine. The police again had to rescue the individual. No one was arrested.
Aug. 22, 2013: A mob attacked five allegedly gay men, who were trapped in their house in Green Mountain until police arrived and escorted them to safety. No one was arrested.
Aug. 26, 2013: A mob surrounded two allegedly gay men who were involved in a minor traffic accident in Old Harbour, St. Catherine. A member of the mob said that homosexuality might be acceptable elsewhere, but not in Old Harbour. The men had to flee into a nearby police station to escape harm. No one was arrested.
Oct. 8, 2013: A mob firebombed the abandoned building in Montego Bay which was the former home of murdered teen, Dwayne Jones, and where his surviving friends continued to live. No one was arrested.
June 14, 2014: A mob attacked a young man at a shopping mall in May Pen, Clarendon because he was allegedly seen putting on lipstick.
June 29, 2014: There was a massive anti-gay protest in Kingston with allegedly 25,000 people in attendance.
- Jamaica: Legal challenge to anti-gay law under way (76crimes.com)
- In support of Javed Jaghai and Maurice Tomlinson (76crimes.com)
- Video campaign pushes respect for LGBTs in Jamaica (76crimes.com)