The Abominable Crime, a documentary highlighting discrimination and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people in Jamaica, is the first recipient of the Amnesty International Human Rights Prize at trinidad+tobago film festival (ttff). Micah Fink’s documentary won unanimous praise from jurors and was awarded the prize at a ceremony in Port of Spain on 28 September.
“The Abominable Crime distinguishes itself by making the criminalization of same sex relationships, the consequences for all LGBTI people and their strategies for survival central to its sensitive portrayal of its two main characters”, said Trinidadian filmmaker Christopher Laird for the jury, announcing the winner.
The prize was judged by three jurors: Christopher Laird was joined by the chair of Trinidad and Tobago’s Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Diana Mahabir-Wyatt and Chiara Sangiorgio of Amnesty International. Other contenders for this year’s prize were Cristo Rey by Leticia Tonos Paniagua on the situation of crime, violence and police abuse in the Dominican Republic, and Mala Mala by Dan Sickles and Antonio Santini on the experiences of transgender people in Puerto Rico.
The Amnesty International Human Rights Prize was established in 2014 and will be awarded annually to the maker of the Caribbean film screened at ttff which is judged to have most compellingly highlighted a human rights issue. The prize was established with a view to promoting human rights in Trinidad and Tobago and the wider Caribbean region through the enhanced production, screening and distribution of films and documentaries.
“The stories that feature in The Abominable Crime are not just relevant to Jamaica, but also internationally where laws are being used in many countries that in effect criminalize LGBTI sexuality and identities; subjecting people to discrimination and abuse for simply being who they are. In the Caribbean region there is a shameful lack of leadership or political will shown towards the repeal of colonial laws which keep our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters and their families in fear for their lives,” said Christopher Laird.
The Abominable Crime follows the story of a lesbian single mother, Simone, who has to leave Jamaica after being shot in a homophobic attack, leaving her child behind, and also the life of Maurice, a leading human rights defender, who filed a lawsuit against Jamaica’s discriminatory laws and has ended up in exile too.
“|t is our hope that through this year’s Prize, we can help to highlight the terrible injustice of laws that criminalise same-sex sexual relations between consenting adults, in Jamaica and also in the wider English-speaking Caribbean,” said Chiara Sangiorgio from Amnesty International. “This legislation violates the rights of Jamaicans to non-discrimination, to equality before the law, and to privacy, and fosters hatred, violence and persecution LGBTI people.”
The film’s title refers to article 76 of Jamaica’s Offences against the Person Act which punishes the “abominable crime of buggery” by up to ten years’ imprisonment with hard labour. Although this colonial-era law is not enforced, it promotes stigmatization of and prejudice against LGBTI people in Jamaica, where there are frequent reports of violence and threats made against individuals because of their real or perceived sexual orientation, which are rarely, if ever investigated. Similar discriminatory laws exist across the English-speaking Caribbean in Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago.
About Amnesty International
Amnesty International is a global movement of more than three million supporters, members and activists in over 150 countries and territories. The organisation exposes human rights violations and campaigns for justice around the world. It is independent of any government, political ideology, economic interest or religion, and is funded mainly by its membership and public donations. For further information, visit: http://www.amnesty.org/
About the trinidad+tobago film festival
Founded in 2006, the ttff is an annual celebration of films from and about Trinidad and Tobago, the Caribbean and its diaspora. The Festival also screens films curated from contemporary world cinema. In addition, the ttff seeks to facilitate the growth of the Caribbean film industry by hosting workshops, panel discussions and networking opportunities. The Festival is presented by Flow, given leading sponsorship by bpTT and TTFC, and supporting sponsorship by RBC Royal Bank, The National Gas Company of Trinidad and Tobago Limited, Ministry of the Arts and Multiculturalism and Embassy of the United States of America. For further information visit www.ttfilmfestival.com.