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Jamaican PM won’t give timeframe for addressing buggery law

Portia Simpson-Miller suggests it’s not a priority now

After raising the possibility of a review of the country’s buggery law during a 2011 televised election debate, Jamaica’s prime minister, Portia Simpson-Miller, recently declined to give media a specific timeframe for addressing the issue. Credit: caribjournal.com

After raising the possibility of a review of the country’s buggery law during a 2011 televised election debate, Jamaica’s prime minister recently declined to give media a specific timeframe for addressing the issue.

“We have to go to our constituents, consult our constituents, and then we go with the decisions of those consultations,” Portia Simpson-Miller says in a TVJ report.

In response to further questioning, Simpson-Miller suggests that a review of the legislation is not a priority now.

“I can’t tell you when, because you are going to hold me [to it] if I give you a timeline. We are so busy trying to hold things and to see . . . whatever decisions we take — because we have to take tough decisions — that it doesn’t impact in a very serious way the majority of our people,” she says.

In the 2011 debate in which Simpson-Miller, then-leader of the opposition People’s National Party (PNP), squared off against the Jamaican Labour Party’s Andrew Holness, she said she wouldn’t have a problem with gays serving in her administration and would appoint someone gay if that person was right for the job.

Simpson-Miller also said her party believes that the human rights of all Jamaicans should be protected and that no one should be discriminated against based on their sexual orientation. 

She also suggested a vote of conscience on the buggery law by MPs, in consultation with their constituents.

There have been several attacks on LGBT Jamaicans since her remarkable statement, among them the murder of 16-year-old Dwayne Jones, who was chased from a Montego Bay party. Jones’s body was later found shot and stabbed on the side of a road in July.

At a 2013 conference in Kingston, Jamaica, anti-gay groups from the US and the UK urged Jamaicans to fight off calls for the repeal of its buggery law.

While Peter LaBarbera, of Americans for Truth About Homsexuality, told attendees not to follow in the footsteps of the US and Britain by permitting LGBT activists  to “achieve dominance” in their society, Andrea Minichiello Williams, of the UK’s Christian Concern, suggested that Jamaica could lead the way in rejecting pressure to decriminalize gay sex, BuzzFeed reports.

According to the report, LaBarbera criticized the American government for its support of LGBT rights, saying he hopes the Caribbean island learns “from our mistakes and from lessons of history and avoids the inevitable moral corruption and health hazards and the danger to young people that come from capitulating to this sin movement that calls itself gay.”