Fri | Oct 19, 2018

No problem with gays in my Cabinet - Holness

Published:Tuesday | April 17, 2018 | 1:10 PMErica Virtue/ Senior Gleaner Writer

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has indicated to the international community that he would have no objection to gay persons being part of his executive.

Holness' response to journalists in Brussels, Belgium, contradicted a strident position by then Prime Minister Bruce Golding, during a May 2008 interview with the BBC's 'HARDtalk's' host Stephen Shakur, that he would not allow gays in his Cabinet.

"Certainly it's not my business ... . Whatever is in my interest to distribute politically, a person's sexuality, sexual orientation is not a criterion for the use of my discretion. It's not an issue that we are afraid to address. The truth is that in the past, like many developed countries, there was a very conservative view on the matter ... ." Holness explained.

According to him, Jamaica was generally liberally oriented and connected in the world and the country's view on homosexuality was evolving, and while the conversation must be had, it should not be stoked.

"The culture is evolving. People are evolving. Even in the Church, which 10 years ago, had a unified position, the Church in Jamaica now has multiple positions on this. I think Jamaica ought to be given space to find its own position to the problems. But, you know, I think we are generally very liberal, but more so very tolerant. And I think that the first step is that the State protect the human rights of every citizen, regardless of sexual orientation or inclination," the prime minister stated.

Holness' position comes days after a court in Trinidad and Tobago struck down the decades-old buggery law and declared that sections 13 and 16 of the Sexual Offences Act were unconstitutional, to the extent that these laws criminalise any acts constituting consensual sexual conduct between adults.

The prime minister and Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade Minister Kamina Johnson Smith are in Europe at the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific meeting in Belgium.