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Jamaican prime minister rebukes gay-rights protestors at New York townhall

Published:Friday | March 27, 2015 | 12:00 AMJerome Reynolds, Staff Reporter
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller speaks at the unveiling of the "Ark of Return" - the Permanent Monument to honour the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade at the UN Visitors Plaza, New York yesterday.
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller (right) speaks with President of the United Nations General Assembly, Sam Kutesa, at the unveiling of the Permanent Monument to honour the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade at the UN Visitors Plaza, New York yesterday.
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller (second right) participates in the unveiling of the 'Ark of Return' - the Permanent Monument to honour the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade at the UN Visitors Plaza, New York yesterday. With the Prime Minister are (from left) Architect and Designer of the monument, Haitian American Rodney Leon; Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova; Permanent Observer of the African Union to the UN, Tete Antonio; UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon; Permanent Representative of India to UN, Asoke Kumar Mukerji; President of the United Nations General Assembly, Sam Kutesa; and Permanent Representative of Jamaica to the UN, Courtenay Rattray.
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Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller yesterday rebuked gay-rights protestors who crashed her keynote address at the launch of the 6th Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference in New York, United States.

As Simpson Miller defended Jamaica's record of protecting the rights of gays, the protestors demanded she do more for them.

However, the prime minister did not take kindly to the disruption and chided the protestors for not telling the truth.

 

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller responds to gay protestors

"Nobody never hears the Government of Jamaica beating up gays; not one. Let me tell you something; you want to disturb, you can disturb, but this woman come here with the blood of Nanny of the Maroons and the spirit of Marcus Mosiah Garvey, and this woman is not afraid of no man, nowhere, anywhere, and I will speak the truth everywhere," the prime minister said to loud cheers and applause from the audience.

Simpson Miller noted her position and that her People's National Party Government is different from that of the previous administration of Bruce Golding, who famously said he would not allow gays to serve in his Cabinet.

Simpson Miller stressed that she would not be bullied by those who tell lies about Jamaica's treatment of gays.

And she further lamented that Jamaica would not bow to attempts to hurt the country's image with misinformation.

The prime minister said Jamaica respects the human rights of all its citizens, including gays. She added that those who disagreed are not being truthful.

"Jamaica will continue to rise and shine globally. Jamaica will rise and shine all over the world and no one man can stop that," Simpson Miller declared.

In the past, gay-rights advocates have picketed events attended by the prime minister in New York.

They have complained that there have been no real efforts by the prime minister and her Government to follow through on her 2011 election promise for a review of the buggery law and conscience vote among parliamentarians. Gay rights advocates have also blasted the Government, claiming that it has done little to stem the violence and discrimination being faced by gays in Jamaica.

In its 2014-2015 country report, human rights organisation Amnesty International pointed to five areas it says Jamaica needs to improve in.

It lists issues relating to the police and security forces, justice, gender-based violence, children's rights and those of homosexuals.

Amnesty International said police brutality remained a concern, adding that attacks and harassment of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender and intersex people have continued.

However, the human-rights group said Jamaica has taken steps to deal with the issue of impunity.

jerome.reynolds@gleanerjm.com