Jamaica Election Results Might Spell Good News For Island’s LGBT Population

The recent parliamentary elections in Jamaica were plagued with anti-gay rhetoric, as candidates tried to show how manly they were by denigrating the LGBT community. So it’s perhaps not surprising that it was a woman, Prime Minister-designate Portia Simpson-Miller (right), who was the only one to speak in their favor. During a televised debate on December 20, she said, “No one should be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation” and indicated she favored a review of Jamaica’s anti-sodomy laws.”

With Simpson-Miller’s People’s National Party emerging victorious in Thursday’s election, it looks like Jamaica’s gays might see the dawn of a new day.


Colin Robinson, president of the Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation (CAISO), told Trinidad Express that the most immediate effect of the election upset is that politicians might now rethink homophobia as a campaign tool.

“What the win says is that you do not lose an election by being supportive of the rights and the humanity of gay people,” Robinson said. “Similarly the [opposition] JLP candidate, outrageously using homophobia as a campaign tool, lost his seat. So the other message is, [saying] ‘bun batty man’ and beating the Bible on the backs of gay people will not win you elections.”

Let’s hope that’s true in America as well.

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  • takakupo

    Wonderful news. Lets keep following Portia’s career and see where it takes us :]

  • JG

    As a Jamaican, I can tell you as much as I love Portia, don’t hold your breath for any changes. Even if she feels this way personally, her party (the PNP) will never soften their stance on the Gay community.

  • the crustybastard

    Straight people don’t know how brutally, violently antigay Jamaica is. There really ought to be a concerted shame campaign mounted against Jamaica, intended to cripple its tourism industry.

  • Colin in T&T

    Congrats on shifting your relentlessly hopeless coverage of the Caribbean! As a non-Jamaican who loves Jamaica, JG, I can tell you that politically active Jamaicans tell me this shift came about not because of Portia’s personal views or single-handed leadership but through pressure within the PNP.

  • Nicholas (FREEPRIDE)

    Thank you Queerty for your coverage of LGBTQ related news from the Caribbean, please continue with your efforts in raising the issues to an international audience.

  • Kurt

    The Peoples National Party is Jamaica’s social-democratic party and far more progressive than the opposition Jamaican Labour Party, which, despite its name, is a conservative party.

  • JG

    @Colin in T&T: Well, the PNP were in power for most of my life and growing up in the era of “Boom Bi Bi” and hearing that song played and recited at PNP rallies has left me very skeptical. Also, the Brits have been trying for a very long time to get them to repeal the sodomy laws and they’d sooner dump QEII as head of state before doing that. I hope what you’re hearing is true and there’s change coming but after all I’ve seen and heard over the years, I’ll believe it when I see it.

  • Interesting

    @JG: The fact she won would indicate things are not as hardcore against as you may believe. This reminds me of how people in the US view people of color. For example, Houston being anti-gay despite the fact it has elected a Lesbian as Mayor twice now. Perhaps your own emotions are getting in the way of seeing this as progress?

  • JG

    @Interesting: This is an emotional issue for me. I’ve personally witnessed people being attacked. I’ve been attacked trying to defend others and a friend of mine form high school had to flee the country recently when his mom got word that men in their neighborhood were planning to kill him. As I said previously, change would be nice but there’s a very long way to go. Also, please don’t kid yourself by thinking gay rights played a major role in the elections. The JLP over the last two years have been embroiled in one major scandal after another that has soured many Jamaicans on the party so much so that even usual JLP strongholds fell to the PNP and longtime MP’s had the closest margins of their careers. These scandals, one of which brought down the former Prime Minister are the driving force behind this landslide victory.

  • Chris

    @ Interesting: I’m from Houston and it is hardly and antigay city (but I will concede you may have been quoting what other people think about the city, not your own beliefs). We just elected the first openly gay man to city council as well. It is the suburbs – most of which are outside the city (Sugar Land, which elected Tom Delay, for example) that are the base of right-wing Texas. Unfortunately, they combine with the rural areas to outvote the progressive cities in the state (and yes, that even includes Dallas).

  • Colin in T&T

    Hope is an essential ingredient in change. If you decide change is impossible, it won’t ever happen. One shouldn’t hold one’s breath, but it is an opening to respond to strategically instead of cynically. As a Jamaican, you’d know why the Brits telling you to so something might be counterproductive. And, though she’s only a ceremonial monarch and the UK has no formal power over Jamaican decisionmaking, yes Portia has plans to dump QEII.


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