Hope for gays as PNP wins Jamaica election

People’s National Party wins landslide victory, leader has spoken in favour of gay rights, JLP homophobes beaten

Jamaica’s opposition People’s National Party (PNP) has won a landslide victory in the national election yesterday.

The victory brings hope for Jamaica’s LGBT population after PNP leader Portia Simpson-Miller spoke out in favour of gay rights. Officials said that 66 year old Simpson-Miller had won 41 of the 63 seats to secure a large parliamentary majority after a close race.

As previously reported on Gay Star News Simpson-Miller said that she would have no qualms about appointing suitably qualified gay cabinet ministers.

She also said that her party would review Jamaica’s colonial era anti-sodomy laws.

Simpson-Miller told Jamaicans: ‘I am humbled as I stand before you and I wish to thank the Jamaican people for their love, for their support and for giving the People’s National Party and the leader of the party her own mandate.’

Current PM Andrew Holness of the Jamaican Labor Party (JLP) conceded a ‘humbling’ defeat. Holness is on record as saying that gay rights are civil rights and are not human rights. This election campaign has been clouded by alleged homophobic abuse by the JLP.

Several key JLP ministers were accused of stirring up hatred for gays during political rallies. This led to claims by JLP candidate Daryl Vaz that he had received death threats from gay rights campaigners.

Vaz also asked if Simpson-Miller was receiving campaign funding from the international gay community in a well known smear tactic by anti-gay politicians.

The election campaign has focussed primarily on Jamaica’s economic problems.

The PNP said that the JLP had allowed the country’s debt to increase and was had run the economy down.

But the JLP accused the PNP of poor management during their previous time in office.

Jamaica is frequently described by human rights groups as one of the most homophobic places in the world.

Sex between men is punishable with up to 10 years in prison and Amnesty International has reported that violent abuse of LGBT people is common. This has led hundreds of gay men and women to seek asylum in the UK, USA and Europe.

The world will be watching closely to see if Simpson-Miller fulfils her promises to improve life for the LGBT community. She was first elected to parliament in 1976 and became Jamaica’s first woman prime minister in 2006 to 2007.

by Alex Hopkins
Source – QBits