The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights today made public a decision calling on Jamaica to repeal laws prohibiting consensual same-sex conduct.
The commission’s conclusions in Gareth Henry and Simone Carline Edwards v. Jamaica are by some measures a no-brainer. Petitioners argued that Jamaica’s 1864 Offences Against the Person Act, which punishes the ‘abominable crime of buggery’ and acts of ‘gross indecency’ between males with up to ten years in prison with hard labor, violates rights protected under the American Convention on Human Rights. The commission, an autonomous organ of the Organization of American States that is authorized to examine complaints of human rights violations, has already called on states to repeal laws that discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the tribunal charged with interpreting the American Convention, has established that the convention prohibits “any regulation, act or practice considered discriminatory based on a person’s sexual orientation,” and that sexual orientation is an aspect of private life that cannot be subject to state interference.