Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller
Jamaica’s new Prime Minister could support moves to legalise homosexuality in what has been described as one of the most homophobic places on earth.
Portia Simpson Miller was sworn in as prime minister on Thursday following her People’s National Party’s landslide election win.
Miller has shown a markedly different stance towards LGBT equality compared to her predecessor Bruce Golding. The former prime minister had insisted that he would never allow a gay or lesbian person to serve in his cabinet and rejected the recognition of same-sex relationships.
Miller, on the other hand, said in an election debate in December that she “believes in protecting the human rights of all Jamaicans. No one should be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. Government should provide the protection…”
She also commented that, “I would appoint anyone with the ability, the capacity, and the capability to manage, in my cabinet.”
Although not directly calling for its end, Miller added that she would support a review of the criminalisation of homosexuality in her country.
Under Jamaican law, sexual acts between men are punishable with up to ten years in jail, although this is seldom enforced among consenting adults.
According to the LGBT group J-FLAG, from January to June 2011 alone, fifty-one incidents – including mob attacks, physical abuse, home evictions, and incidents of discrimination – were reported against LGBT people in Jamaica.
In July, Police Senior Superintendent Fitz Bailey claimed on national television that young homosexual men are the main perpetrators of organised crime in Jamaica.
Jamaica was described as one of the most homophobic places on earth by Time magazine due to ongoing hate speech and violent attacks against LGBT individuals.