Metro Weekly

Jamaica’s Prime Minister distances herself from legalizing gay sex

portia millerJamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller has further distanced herself from a 2011 election promise to legalize gay sex.

The leader of the People’s National Party told viewers of a televised debate, “No-one should be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. I think we should have a look at the buggery law and members of parliament should be given the right to vote with their conscience, in consultation with their constituents.”

She continued, adding, “I do not have any intention of prying into the private business of anyone. I would appoint anyone with the ability, the capacity and the capability in my cabinet.” Simpson-Miller was referencing former Prime Minister Bruce Golding, who told the BBC in 2008 that a gay person would never be appointed to his cabinet and promised parliament in 2009 that gay sex would never be legalized. “‘I do not support the position of the former Prime Minister,” Simpson-Miller stated at the time.

As reported by Television Jamaica, Simpson-Miller reneged on those statements this week. “We have to go to our constituents, consult our constituents and then we go with the decisions of those consultations,” she told reporters. She then explained that her government had to “take tough decisions,” before stating that Jamaica’s buggery law “does not impact in a serious way the majority of our people.”

Jamaica’s next election cycle will occur between December 2016 and March 2017, which gives the Prime Minister just under three years to follow through on her original pledge. The “consultations” mentioned to reporters were given no concrete timeframe, though past experience could hint that it will likely be sooner than later, if at all. The government originally stated that the parliament would vote on repealing the law before the end of 2013, before revising that to the end of March this year. Neither vote occurred.

Jamaica’s bugger law is codified under Section 76 of the Offences Against the Person Act, which states “Whosoever shall be convicted of the abominable crime of buggery … shall be liable to be imprisoned and kept to hard labour for a term not exceeding ten years.”


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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's online editor. He can be reached at rmarr@metroweekly.com.

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