Jamaican health official: Anti-gay laws must change

Dr. Fenton Ferguson, Jamaica's minister of health.
Dr. Fenton Ferguson, Jamaica’s minister of health.

Jamaica must change its anti-gay “buggery” law “for the greater good” now that an  international consensus against such laws is growing, says Dr. Fenton Ferguson, Jamaica’s health minister.

Ferguson said:

We can’t hide, we can’t dodge it. 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 recognition of human rights issues. …

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

Portia Simpson-Mller
Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Mller

Prime Minister Portia 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.

But so far no parliamentary action has occurred.

Dane Lewis, director of the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG), has told Gay Star News “he is ‘hopeful’ legislation to remove the ‘buggery laws’ would be brought forward ‘in the life of this parliament.’ ”

Ferguson said Simpson Miller’s comments have had a positive impact worldwide.

“For many it was almost a rescue statement in relation to Jamaica … where we are in terms of homophobia,” he said.

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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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