The Church and the law: examining the role of Christianity in shaping sexual politics in Jamaica
Lazarus, Latoya Latesha
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This thesis examines the ways in which a number of faith discourses and institutions seen to comprise 'the Christian religion' - at least in its Jamaican manifestations -continue to shape sexual politics and discourses in Jamaica in the twenty-first century. Specifically, I focus on the constitutional reform process and the review of the country's laws on abortion, analysing the ways in which issues relating to sexual orientation (namely homosexuality), abortion and human rights (particularly sexual and reproductive rights) were debated over by various special interest groups. I argue that the influence of certain manifestations of Christianity cannot be overlooked in the analysis of these nationalist projects relating to gender and sexuality. Indeed, based on feminist critical discourse analysis of a number of key government and nongovernmental reports, blogs and newspaper articles as well as interviews with ten knowledgeable informants, I found that a conservative articulation of Christianity works to support and shape a heteropatriarchal discourse on matters relating to homosexuality and abortion, thus impacting conceptualisations and experiences of sexual and reproductive rights and more broadly, citizenship. There are, however, challenges to these conservative manifestations, by sexual and women's rights groups as well as from within other segments of Christianity. This diversity results in nuanced understandings and approaches to these issues within the society, some of which calls into question the dominant heteropatriarchal discourse.