LGBT advocate drops case against Jamaica's anti-LGBT law, citing personal safety

Javed Jaghai, the Education and Outreach Officer at the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals & Gays (J-FLAG), brought a lawsuit last year, challenging Jamaica's laws on same-sex relationships, arguing that the laws fuel anti-LGBT violence and violate human rights.

Jaghai has now withdrawn his lawsuit, citing a violent backlash. The Associated Press reports:

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.

"Though the cause and the case are noble, I am no longer willing to gamble with my life or the lives of my parents and siblings," Jaghai wrote in a statement withdrawing his Supreme Court claim.

Jamaica's rarely used anti-sodomy law bans anal sex and sets a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and hard labor. Anything interpreted as "gross indecency" between men can be punished by two years in prison.

Jaghai noted in his own Tumblr post:

Jamaica is a very small society with many poorly socialized people. Unstable individuals regularly harm unsuspecting others for choosing to live in a way that displeases them. While I have never been harmed physically, I have been threatened enough times to know that I am vulnerable. Though the cause and the case are noble, I am no longer willing to gamble with my life or the lives of my parents and siblings.

I am very concerned that this case could well go into 2015 and beyond given consistent delays. If this matter should be taken to the next level, which my lawyers suggested is likely, then we can expect another few years of sensationalized deliberations. I refuse to stand by while prominent voices in the society use this moment as an opportunity to incite mistrust in instigate waves of hysteria. I am not fighting any battles. This is not a war. I do not fight, I promote peace. But participants in island-wide protests and subsequent media reports and commentaries insist that "we" are at war, so I am going to lay down my weapons. I do not want to be characterized as a villain anymore.

J-FLAG continues to advocate for LGBT people in Jamaica, which is one of the countries with the highest rates of anti-LGBT violence. Below, you can see a video of Javed talking about LGBT human rights in Jamaica, posted last year.