Dr Fenton Ferguson

Jamaica’s Health Minister Dr Fenton Ferguson has said that the country must move beyond its traditional and outdated views when it comes to gay people.

Ferguson’s comments were made in a speech on 27 November, broadcast by TVJ, in which he discussed stigma and discrimination.

“Whatever might be our past in terms of tradition, culture and views, the rest of the world is moving. And the Caribbean must also move in relation to recognising the human rights issue…” he said.

Ferguson also referred to a statement by President Portia Simpson-Miller during last year’s elections in which she said she supported reviewing Jamaica’s criminalisation of gay sex.

“For many it was almost a rescue statement in relation to Jamaica [about] where we are in terms of homophobia,” said Ferguson.

“Irrespective of what our personal opinion might be – I have my personal opinion – but I think for the greater good, when you look at the situation, we have to take decisions that will take us forward in this present period,” he added.

According to Section 76 of the Jamaican Offences Against the Person Act of 1864, a maximum sentence of 10 years can be issued for committing the crime of “buggery”.

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