Kingston, Jamaica —— September 5, 2012
A new study done by Professor Ian Boxill of the University of the West Indies shows that almost two in every five Jamaicans believe the government is not doing enough to protect and promote the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons to freedom from discrimination, violence and other forms of harassment.
The 2012 study was commissioned by the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) and funded by AIDS-Free World. It is a follow up to the 2011 study on Jamaicans' views about homosexuality and the factors that determine those attitudes. Boxill used a nationally representative sample of 1000 persons between 18 and 84 years (margin of error of +/-4%) and two focus groups.
The National Survey of Attitudes and Perceptions of Jamaicans Towards Same-Sex Relationships found that while Jamaicans continue to have strong negative attitudes towards homosexuality, one in every five Jamaicans is tolerant of LGBT persons and would support an addendum to the charter of rights affording rights to the LGBT community.
"These findings speak to the progress we are making as a people in respecting the humanity, dignity and equality of LGBT persons," said Dane Lewis, J-FLAG's executive director. "However, given that we have a vibrant LGBT community, much more still needs to be done so we can more forward as a cohesive and just society that intends to become the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business."
The 2012 study found that persons 35 years old and under are more likely to be tolerant, accepting, supportive, admiring and appreciative of LGBT persons. The national survey also included a subsample of businesspersons and found that although they would not fire an openly LGBT person, a little over half of them would not employ LGBT people for the following reasons: they feel they would make their coworkers uncomfortable, they do not support the sexual orientation, they feared being stigmatized and they feared losing customers. However, focus group results show that coworkers did not see working with homosexuals as a significant problem (as long as they acted professionally).
"Urgent national leadership is required to address the chronic intolerance for LGBT Jamaicans so they can be afforded equal rights and protection of the law like any other person. " Lewis also said.
Maurice Tomlinson, legal advisor at AIDS-Free World, said, "this study provides conclusive proof of the malignant level of homophobia which continues to pervade all levels of Jamaican society and ravage lives. The serious effect of homophobia is most evident in the vastly disproportionate level of HIV among Jamaican men who have sex with men (MSM)."
"There is very little variance between the results of the two studies as there is still strong negative views towards same-sex relationships across all sectors of the Jamaican society. This was confirmed by two homophobia scales that were used by Boxill," he said.