Jamaican, U.S. leaders in human rights Hall of Fame

Jamaica Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller (Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons)
Jamaica Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller (Photo courtesy of Wiki Commons)

Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller and U.S. President Barack Obama will be honored as this year’s inductees to a Hall of Fame by the Human Rights Watch advocacy group.

Both will be honored for statements during their election campaigns on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, the group said.

Obama’s announcement in favor of allowing same-sex marriage came in a May 9 interview.

Simpson-Miller, who took office in January, said during her election campaign that Jamaicans should not discriminate against people because of their sexual orientation. She also said she was willing to review the country’s buggery laws, which provide for prison sentences of up to 10 years for male homosexual activity.

“What Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller of Jamaica and President Barack Obama of the United States have in common is that they took a political risk by speaking out in favor of inclusiveness instead of discriminating against people based on their sexual orientation or gender identity” said Boris Dittrich, advocacy director of the LGBT Program at Human Rights Watch. “They inspire people around the world and give hope to a brighter future for LGBT people.”

“Politically speaking, Simpson-Miller … took a big risk. Jamaica has a very violent history of homophobia and transphobia and her predecessor favored ongoing criminalization of homosexual conduct,” Dittrich said.

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him at info@76crimes.com.

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