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Shame countries into changing unjust laws - Obama

Published:Friday | April 10, 2015 | 9:32 AMDebbie-Ann Wright, News Editor - Radio
US President Barack Obama addressing youth leaders at the University of the West Indies.

United States President Barack Obama has said it is sometimes necessary for countries to shame other nations into changing some of their cultural practices which may be wrong.

He was addressing a question from a representative from the Global Fund Board, who asked whether governments should wait on societal change to occur before changing certain laws which may infringe on human rights.

The question comes at a time when Jamaica is grappling with the decision of whether to repeal laws such as those prohibiting buggery.

It has been argued that such laws impinge on the human rights of gay Jamaicans, but there have been strong arguments locally that to repeal the laws would go against the norms of Jamaican society.

Obama did not mention the anti-buggery laws or Jamaica in his response, as he noted that every society has certain core values and principles that they believe deeply in.

However, he also acknowledged that there are some issues which may be culturally specific but are wrong:


US president Barack Obama

Meanwhile, Obama used his address to endorse the work of a lesbian-Jamaican woman who he said is fighting for respect of the rights of all humans.

Highlighting the case of the woman identified as Angeline Jackson who had been, kidnapped and sexually assaulted Obama said he salutes her for the work she is now doing to help women in similar positions.


US president Barack Obama