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KINGSTON, JAMAICA – Young Jamaican gay rights activist who brought a legal challenged to the Caribbean island’s anti-sodomy law has withdrawn the claim after multiple threats and violent backlashes, advocacy groups and colleagues said Aug. 29.
Javed Jaghai made headlines in 2013 after he initiated a constitutional court challenge to Jamaica’s 1864 law that bans sex between men. Jaghai argues the law fuels homophobia and violates the 2011 adopted Human Rights Charter that guarantees people the right to privacy. However, Jaghai is withdrawing his challenge due to threats of violence.
“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.
He says that he has been “threatened enough times to know that I am vulnerable,” AP reports and that his “loved ones are under threat” by intolerant people.
Although Jamaica’s law is rarely used, the anti-sodomy law bans anal sex and sets a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and hard labor. Anything that is interpreted as “gross indecency” between men can be punishable for up to two years in prison.
J-FLAG, Jamaica’s biggest gay rights group, says Jaghai’s courage has inspired other young gays in Jamaica who are not willing to live in the shadows.