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Jamaica: Health minister in favour of buggery law review

BY NATASHA BARSOTTI — "We can’t hide, we can’t dodge it. Whatever might be our past in terms of tradition, culture and views, the rest of the world is moving and the Caribbean must also move in relation to recognizing human rights issues," says Jamaica's health minister, who wants to see a review of the Caribbean island's buggery law.

According to a Television Jamaica (TVJ) report, Fenton Ferguson says his administration is taking action, indicating a white paper tabled in parliament about a workplace policy on stigma and discrimination.

In the report, Ferguson recalled Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller's comments during a televised election debate in which she said she was in favour of MPs voting their conscience on the buggery law.

"For many it was almost a rescue statement in relation to Jamaica, where we are in terms of homophobia," Ferguson says, noting that Simpson-Miller's statement met with much approval at the global level. 

"Irrespective of what our personal opinion might be — I have my personal opinion — but I think for the greater good when you look at a situation we have to take decisions that will take us forward in this present period," Ferguson concludes.

However, the Jamaica Observer carried a Nov 22 story headlined "Promised buggery review put on back-burner" in which the minister responsible for information, Sandrea Falconer, is quoted as saying that the issue is not yet on the table as the administration is prioritizing other legislation that must be approved this year.

"Not that the buggery law is not of concern to a segment of the population, but the issues like crime and the economy, we decided, we were going to give those priority in terms of the legislation that we pass this year," Falconer said.

Gay Star News quotes Dane Lewis, director of the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG), as saying he is hopeful legislation to remove the buggery law would be brought forward "in the life of this parliament."



Landing image: Jamaica Information Service

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