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Luis Moreno: US supports rights of LGBT Jamaicans

Published:Saturday | May 23, 2015 | 12:00 AMLuis Moreno
Luis Moreno

Jamaica is well known historically as a global leader on human rights, having spurred the awakening of the world's conscience against the noxious apartheid regime.

When President Obama visited Jamaica last month, he challenged us all, saying:

"You're more eager for progress that comes not by holding down any segment of society, but by holding up the rights of every human being, regardless of what we look like or how we pray or who we love."

As many of your readers know, on Thursday and Friday, the US Embassy hosted two visitors from Washington, DC, Randy Berry, the US Department of State's special envoy for the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons, and Todd Larson, senior LGBT coordinator at the US Agency for International Development.

While in Jamaica, they met with government, religious, business, academic, and civil-society representatives. Their visit was part of the broad and global US objective of promoting the respect for universal human rights for all people.

Through public and private dialogue, we engage diplomatically and with full respect for the sovereignty of Jamaica on all issues that impact historically marginalised populations, including women and girls, persons with disabilities, and the LGBT community. And we will continue to do so with everyone - including those with whom we disagree - via respectful dialogue and debate. I would hope that we all agree that violence against another person is never acceptable.

Embassy Kingston maintains excellent relations with the Government of Jamaica as well as non-governmental organisations, academic and religious institutions, and community leaders. I, and members of my staff, speak frequently with government officials and civil society on a wide variety of human rights issues, including those that impact children, women, prisoners, and the LGBT community, and the disabled community.

The United States remains committed to promoting full and equal citizenship for all people, including LGBT persons and members of other vulnerable groups, in Jamaica, throughout the region, and around the globe.

As President Obama said on Sunday: "All people deserve to live free from fear, violence, and discrimination, regardless of who they are or whom they love." I want to close by underscoring the President's words: all people. No one, especially in a democracy, should be denied the promise of full and equal citizenship.

- Luis G. Moreno is United States ambassador to Jamaica. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com.