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Tolerance Wins in Jamaican Election

Tolerance Wins in Jamaican Election

Caribbean LGBT activists have welcomed the thorough defeat of the ruling party in Jamaica’s elections.

During the last weeks of the election campaign, the Jamaican Labour Party (JLP) was accused of using homophobia, including nasty, misogynist and violent rhetoric. The electoral ombudsman, a Christian minister, was accused of taking sides, backing the JLP.

They were opposed by the People’s National Party (PNP) and now Jamaican Prime Minister-designate Portia Simpson-Miller. She had repeated her opposition to discrimination against LGBT during the campaign, which drove the JLP attacks.

“No one should be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation,” Simpson-Miller said.

“Government should provide the protection and I think we should have a look at the buggery law and that members of parliament should be given an opportunity to vote with their conscience on consultation with their constituents.”

President of the Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation (CAISO), Trinidadian Colin Robinson, said:

“What the win says is that you do not lose an election by being supportive of the rights and the humanity of gay people,” Robinson said.

“Similarly the JLP candidate, who was most outrageous (by) using homophobia as a campaign tool, lost his seat. So the other message is ‘bun batty man’ and beating the Bible on the backs of gay people will not win you elections.”

Robinson said it is a signal to politicians that the issue of nondiscrimination against gay people does not carry the political liability they think it carries.

“The only reason that the politician has now to oppose full equality concerning gay people is their own prejudice.”

Lynette Vassell, a member of the Women Resource and Outreach Centre in Jamaica, told the Express the strategy used by the JLP in their attempt to discredit Simpson-Miller backfired “because the issues on people’s minds were more concrete and practical.”

“I and a lot of right-thinking Jamaicans support the stance she took during the debate because what she is saying is that we need to open up a conversation around a matter that is very touchy in our context,” Vassell said.

An unprecedented legal challenge at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to the Jamaican anti-sodomy law was announced in October.

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Photo: Activist Maurice Tomlinson at Stand against Homophobia, Emancipation Park, Kingston, 28 July, 2011. Picture by Maurice Tomlinson.

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6:13PM PST on Jan 10, 2012

Glad to hear of this!

4:21AM PST on Jan 9, 2012

Thumbs up for Jamaica! :)

1:23AM PST on Jan 8, 2012

Thanks for the article.

4:54AM PST on Jan 5, 2012

Now that is a silly thing to say, as though gay men are the only people that ever have anal sex! What about all the heterosexual women who have had their boyfriend's "dicks in their mouths" or have anal sex with their boyfriend's and husbands? Should they not be allowed to operate on people or serve food or wash people's hair either? I think you will find that leaves precious few people to wait on you.

2:05AM PST on Jan 5, 2012

homophobia is justified, who wants contact with men who have had dicks in the mouths, or poo on them, would you want them operating on you? washing your hair? serving you food, no thanks!

6:51PM PST on Jan 4, 2012

Zero Tolerance with Gays !

5:06PM PST on Jan 4, 2012

Such good news .. am so proud of these folks!

2:36PM PST on Jan 4, 2012


11:12AM PST on Jan 4, 2012

Good news! There's a slow but sure trend towards greater acceptance of sexual minorities in much of the world. Let's hope that this trend continues, and spreads to places where it is needed the most.

Biggotry of all kinds - based on appearance, sexual orientation, or religion, is an ugly, ugly thing.

8:50AM PST on Jan 4, 2012

This is good news thank you Paul for sharing and Jenny for the heads up.

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