An Open Letter to Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller.
On her commitment to Human Rights for all Jamaicans.
The Office of the Prime Minister
1 Devon Road
Dear Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller,
Your enthronement as Prime Minister of Jamaica and leader of the People National Party is with great rejoice that I write to you, along with many Jamaicans here and in the Diaspora I wish you well.
I hope you will continue to use your authority, knowledge and experience to guide Jamaica and direct us on a path of success and sustainable growth, a growing economy that will create jobs, manage the national debt and stabilized the Jamaican Dollar. I am writing to you to express my concerns about the equality and human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Jamaicans.
Just over a year ago, you expressed your commitment to protecting the human rights of all Jamaican, making a bold, yet refreshing statement that you have no intention to pry in the private lives of individuals and that your administration will allow anyone with the ability, knowledge and capability to serve in your cabinet. You then when on to express that you support a review of the Buggery law and that Members of Parliament can vote on it. Very recently your Health Minister Dr. Fenton Ferguson said he is in favour for that review.
Moreover, although you have expressed your support for a review of the law, your Minister without Portfolio for Information Sandrea Falconer made it clear that your administration have much more pressing issues to consider. Like many Jamaicans I am also concerned about the Economy, the ability to get a job to provide for my family, a high crime rate and the sliding dollar, but I am also deeply hurt and bothered that gay and lesbian Jamaicans are being harass, threaten, beaten and sometimes killed. And your administration still thinks it’s not a priority where hard working tax payers are being terrorized for who they love.
As you already know civil servants and government workers are already protect from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. Most recently the Jamaica Constabulary Force in there Police Ethics and Diversity Policy name sexual orientation as a protected identity. So why then under the new Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedom discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation and gender identity was left out? Institutions in Jamaica are moving in the right direction in securing equality for all Jamaicans but your government is lacking behind on this issue.
I still hold very close to your words that under this current administration the Buggery Law will be debated in Parliament and I strongly support the removal of it.
In the recent Ian Boxill survey National Survey of Attitudes and Perceptions of Jamaicans Towards Same-Sex Relationships. Almost two out of five Jamaican including myself believe that your government is not doing enough to protect the country’s LGBT community.
As you and I along with the rest of the world witness the brutal attack and beating of a university student on the University of Technology Campus, not only had the administration implemented sensitizes training for its security staff and personnel but when on an island wide campaign to education the society about tolerance and respect, an unprecedented move that I look forward in seeing from your administration.
As a woman, wife and leader I am sure you must be concerned about the dehumanizing conditions some of the countries young adults are living. Being thrown from their homes and abandon by their family because of their sexuality.
Homophobia, intolerance and bigotry will cause a family to put out there child without food, shelter or clothing.
Homeless MSMs are now becoming a growing concern to the society, a problem that greatly needs your government’s intervention, financial support and some much needed public educating. The issue of homeless MSMs is such an important one that if continued to be left unattended will not only cost the country millions of dollars but also many young lives.
These young men are not only living a life of hopelessness but are resorting to extreme measures for survival, putting them at risk for HIV/AIDS, violence and death.
Removing the Buggery Law not only prevent hard working Jamaicans from being criminalized, but also help to effectively fight a ticking time boom, HIV/AIDS.
With one in every three gay men infected with HIV, the government must act now in preventing a nationwide epidemic. Not only are these men sleeping with other men, but are also sleeping with women (increasing the risk of HIV infections spreading into the general population) to hide their sexuality and to prove to society that they are "heterosexual," to avoid stigma, discrimination and harassment. The law's removal can effectively allow non-for-profit organizations, government agencies and International aids group to effectively target, educated and treat MSMs about HIV/AIDS. Promote tolerance and remove the discrimination and stigma many MSMs fear when seeking treatment at our local health clinics and hospitals.
Mrs. Simpson-Miller fear can cripple a nation; many of the countries young, educated and hardworking citizens are fleeing home to live in other countries where societies are much more tolerant. What does that mean for Jamaica's ageing population? More Elderly people which means less Jobs, less people working which will cause the government to gain less money, less money the government makes will put more burden on social services. Government will have to spend more on medical care. The age of retirement will have to be raised, Families being separated, all of which can be easily avoided with the removal of the buggery law, promoting love, respect and equality for all Jamaican.
I am a man of God and I respect all religions; however history has shown us religion should never be the reason to deny homosexuals the rights to equality, the rights to express oneself without fear, discrimination and harassment. The churches in Jamaica have move way beyond preaching love and acceptance to spreading hate, lies and fear. The Church, which was always seen as a "pillar of hope" for the poor and needed, they built communities, provide food, shelter, money for the less fortunate. Now the true Christian values are being tarnishes by the selfishness of a few fundamentalist Christians like Sherley Richard and Dr. Wayne West. Although there concerns should always be respected, we must never allow there extreme views and scare tactics to frighten us from making real positive changes for the country.
Homophobia as gone way beyond just the fear of gays and lesbians, it now involve supporting anti-gay discrimination in legislations, denying other Jamaicans the right to equality and free choice.
Prime Minister, let me leave you with a word from Former Prime Minister Michael Manley in his address to the United Nation General Assemble - 1972, "We believe that the idea of EQUALITY is the only enduring principle by which mankind may be guided in the conduct of national and international affairs.”
Respectfully Mrs. Simple-Miller, I urge you to keep well with your promise to have a conscience vote on such an important matter for many Jamaicans and remove the Buggery Law completely off our statute.