Master of Arts (M.A.)
Degree Granting Department
Michelle Hughes Miller, Ph.D.
Helis Sikk, Ph.D.
Kimberly Golombisky, Ph.D.
Caribbean, postcolonial studies, inequality, law, sexual Assault, sexuality, queer criminology
Based on colonial and neocolonial models of oppression, Jamaica has adopted many laws, policies, and systems mandated by the British monarchy. Many of these laws contain anti-LGBTQ+ policies which remain in effect today. To address the criminalization of LGBTQ+ identities, I used queer theory and queer criminology to analyse the ways Jamaica constructs LGBTQ+ people as criminals and how they are treated in the legal and criminal justice systems from a postcolonial standpoint. Using a qualitative text-based feminist and queer policy analysis, I investigated social, legal, and colonial influences on current anti-LGBTQ+ policy by looking at the Offences Against the Person Act (OAPA) and the Sexual Offences Act (SOA). Through unpacking the colonial and postcolonial meanings of these active anti-LGBTQ+ laws, I found that while the laws criminalize gay Jamaicans through heterosexual- and gender-specific language used in the acts, the primary purpose of these laws is to legalize and encourage violence and discrimination against LGBTQ+ people. These laws emphasize outdated notions of sex and sexuality where men receive little protection from sexual assault due to the government’s refusal to overturn the anti-LGBTQ+ laws. In addition to discrimination and a lack of protection, the maintenance of these laws promotes several system outcomes for LGBTQ+ people in Jamaica’s legal and criminal justice systems, such as adverse effects in politics, policing, and experiences of incarceration. I conclude that these anti-LGBTQ+ laws are the remnants of a colonial heteropatriarchal system that must be removed to promote sovereignty, equality, and to move away from colonial and neocolonial models of oppression.
Scholar Commons Citation
Knowles, Zoe C., "Criminalizing LGBTQ+ Jamaicans: Social, Legal, and Colonial Influences on Homophobic Policy" (2021). Graduate Theses and Dissertations.