Jamaica’s LGBT Rights ‘Nudge’ From Time Magazine

Tucked away down the list of Time magazine’s 100 people in the world this year was Jamaica’s Prime Minister, Portia Simpson-Miller.

Her entry, by Brooklyn Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, lists her achievements, but the real reason she was included was because of what Time called her brave stance on supporting LGBT civil rights.

Jamaica does have a reputation as a very homophobic country — Time magazine itself asked the question in 2006 if it is ‘The most homophobic place on earth?‘ Its production of ‘murder music’, reggae and dancehall with lyrics encouraging the killings of gays, draws perhaps unwanted international attention every so often, as someone is found out to be sponsoring it or an artist is blocked from touring. While the actual violent murders of gays, lesbians and transgender people in Jamaica draws little attention, it does keep happening.

It was before her election at the end of last year that Simpson Miller said during a TV debate that no one should be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation and that, if elected Prime Minister, she would review the anti-gay buggery law.

The opposition tried to use her comments as a wedge issue during the last week of the election, but she still won.

Activists praised her comments as “historic” and they have also welcomed her inclusion in Time’s list. They regarded it as ‘incentivizing’ her to follow up on a commitment, a better way of ‘nudging’ her and Jamaica as a whole rather than tactics like boycotts, which have been threatened in the past with the consequence of a nasty backlash against gay people in Jamaica.

The country has seen slow but steady progress. ‘Murder music’ is declining as well as being increasingly seen as unwelcome in the culture. Polls show majorities, but decreasing ones, expressing anti-gay views. And the country has had a LGBT national organization, J-FLAG, now for 13 years, chipping away slowly and changing hearts and minds. More national figures than ever before are speaking out for LGBT people, though no one yet who is in the parliament.

Simpson Miller’s government has given little indication of when she might bring the colonial-era buggery law up for a vote in parliament, a vote which would also certainly see it kept in place. But it does have bigger concerns.

Four months after the election, the government is widely seen as having got off to a bad start with a badly handled and delayed budget, failure to secure an IMF agreement, Jamaican dollar depreciation and governance failures such as thousands of Jamaicans being exposed to toxic fumes for days from a city dump fire, while the government pretended that air quality was at acceptable levels.

Nevertheless, what Simpson Miller might do for Jamaica’s gays remains a Jamaican media concern — see this cartoon in the homophobic Jamaica Observer, for example. Even if comments from her ministers on her Time 100 appearance don’t make reference to just why she was listed and her official comments only make an indirect reference: “The Prime Minister continues to work to ensure that Jamaica is a better place for all its citizens.”

Even if the buggery law stays unreviewed in Jamaica’s parliament, the country will still have to decide whether to defend it, as it is was announced last year that the law would be petitioned at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).

Related stories:

Tolerance Wins in Jamaican Election

‘Ex-Gay’ Myth Hits Caribbean: Newspaper Ad Declares “Truth” About Gays

Jamaican Wins ‘Visionary’ LGBT Activist Award

Image courtesy of Government of Jamaica


Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin5 years ago

I will never go on a cruise or trip to any country with laws that prohibit LGBT. May it be Jamaica or Russia.

John B.
John B5 years ago

The road for the GLBTQ community in Jamaica will be long and rocky but I hope they persevere. My heart goes out to them, and Mari G. once again your response to a bigot is right on target. I can't send you another green star just yet but Kudos to you.

Andrew Carvin
Andrew Carvin5 years ago

I made a video about why Homosexuals should have equal rights. It’s at my YouTube channel Zarrakan, and here’s the link:


Watch it, share it, and join the fight against the evil Homophobes.

marc horton
marc horton5 years ago

to enoyh y ,you are an idiot ,hypocrite,with a big windbag of CRAP freefloating in your own brain, you lack any inkling with history of any oppressed people,or how movements represent all different types of layers of how an individual{s) within show themselves...geesh you are forgetting about your privilege as a white stupid ignorant Fusspot,who r you to judge?!

Marg H.
Marg H5 years ago

BMutinyT has it exactly right .... the IRONIC fact -- that "buggery" and "sodomy" and "unnatural acts" laws, were ALL the products of COLONIALISM.

In fact so well brainwashed were colonies like Jamaica and Uganda they don't even realise their colonial rantings today. Typically we have Sirleaf Johnson of Liberia talking abject nonsense about what 'African values' are!
Actually Ms Johnson - they are NOT. Those are values of colonised people brainwashed by missionaries.
As for Portia she will never get anywhere with LGBT law repeal in Jamaica - people there can get murdered just on suspicion of being gay. Or even expressing open sympathy to HIV Aids sufferers! Check the record over the years and you will see.
If she moves in that direction Portia's life will be in danger. Simple as that.

J.L. A.
JL A5 years ago

Hope for progress apparently remains.......

Roy M.
Roy M5 years ago

@ Enoch Y.
I hate to burst your bubble but your 'ancient and historical worldly values' are so antithetical to today's values and riddled with contradictions, you couldn't possibly believe every one of them. Besides, if marriage is so 'sacred', why don't you fight against divorce? That's a much bigger threat to marriage.
As for the 'activist' side you object to; if you study history you will find lots of examples of people being 'in your face' while fighting for their rights. It's a normal human thing you know.

John Duqesa
Past Member 5 years ago

Thank you.

Mari Garcia
Mari Garcia5 years ago

and finally.

Yet they clearly frown upon and look at such behavior as giving into the lower self and not reaching our full potential. I will proudly say, "They do not have my blessings, or approval." But that does not mean the 4th kind of Universal Love for all of Creation does not extend to this out of control over blown LGBT movement. I'll be praying for their success in terms of Compassion and Truth to the very end. Before any of Care2 members find me to be a Bigget or ignorant, talk to me and discover what I am about.", it sounds like ramblings of a lunatic! what the hell are you even trying to say? i dont think you are a bigot because of your beliefs, i think you are a bigot for the things you said, also, i think you are ignorant because you are blinded by teachings that needs to be left in the dust along with anything else the promotes bigotry. if you werent a bigot, you wouldnt be saying things based on hate and intolerance. i dont care if you accept me for being a lesbian or not, but dont let your personal beliefs stomp on my personal rights to have protections under marriage, to be a mother and to be safe. i can deal with people saying stupid crap, but people saying stupid crap easily turns into more hate and/or violence

Mari Garcia
Mari Garcia5 years ago

and since we have kids invovled, we need all the legal protection that allows us to be seen as our child(ren)'s parents. furthermore, gay marriage before people made it taboo. study actual history. another example of bigotry "Bottom line is, it is fine to unique and different" we are not "unique" or "different" because we are gay, that is ridiculous. we are normal people that make up an actual percentile of the population. the only thing that makes us "different" is that we find love in our own gender, but expression of that love, the goals, and the wanting or not wanting of a family is the same as heterosexual couples. reality check, there are many, many speices of animals that are homosexual, and newflash buddy, humans are mammels. we just have a fanicer brain. "So this whole, look at me, "We're quear, We're here!" shit is getting old fast." no, we are being "out of the closet". we are saying we are gay, we are human and we are going to live our life liberated. no one is going out of their way to offend you, or whatever the hell you are thinking. we decided enough was enough and that it was time to stop hiding and start living our lives. get over it. so you say, and as for "My beliefs are based on Sacred teachings and writings from thousands upon thousands of years old and were researched completely outside the Organized Church or Modern Corrupted and twisted religion. Yet they clearly frown upon and look at such behavior as giving into the lower self and not reac