Video: Jamaican opposition leader backs LGBT rights in 'historic' moment

Published: December 21, 2011

In a moment described as ‘historic’ by activists, the Jamaican opposition leader has come out for LGBT rights during an election debate.

Jamaicans will go to the polls on December 29 and People’s National Party leader Portia Simpson-Miller made the positive comments during an election debate yesterday with Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

Simpson Miller also said 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.

She said that she would have no problem with appointing gays to her Cabinet.

Former Prime Minister Bruce Golding famously told the BBC in 2008 that he would never appoint a gay person to his cabinet.

Responding to the same question, Holness articulated the need for Jamaica to achieve minimum standards governing human rights and suggested that such steps were being taken through measures such as the passage of the Bill of Rights. He has previously argued that gay rights are civil rights, not human rights, and therefore not covered by international human rights instruments.

He added that any change to the existing legislation should be made on the basis of due consideration to the views of the people.

    “We are an open society and the issues that are difficult and uncomfortable to discuss, as the society progresses, these issues are being discussed. People are entitled to their opinions but as leader of the country I have to respect everybody’s opinion (and) make sure that the institutions of freedom are well in place so that the debate can continue,” said Holness.

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