Andre Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
As the debate continues in Russia following the country's passing of new anti-gay laws and how that may affect sportsmen and women, Natalie Neita-Headley, minister with responsibility for sports, has underlined that Jamaica's policy on sports protects the right of all, including gays.
The issue of gay rights and sports has become a major subplot at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics here in Moscow, with activists calling for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games which will take place in the southern Russian resort town of Sochi.
Athletes show support
A number of athletes are also showing their support for gay sportsmen and women by wearing rainbow nail polish and armbands.
The rainbow flag has long been associated with gay rights across the world.
International sporting groups such as the International Olympic Association, FIFA and the International Association of Athletics Federations have called for clarification of the Russian law, which outlaws the public discussion of gay practices and rights in any area where children can hear it.
While not indicating support or opposition to Russia's stance, Neita-Headley rejected the idea of an official position or detailed policy approach to homosexuality and sports in Jamaica.
She argued that sports in Jamaica will remain the privilege of all Jamaicans, regardless of sexual orientation.
"I don't think it needs any further discussion, we have a policy of sports for all in Jamaica. We have not been in the business of seeking to find out who is this and who is not, and what is your sexual preference," Neita-Headley told The Sunday Gleaner from the IAAF World Championships in Athletics, where she has spent the last few days supporting Jamaica's athletes and forging linkages and opportunities for the nation's sporting development.
"Sports is a right and a privilege for all Jamaicans right across the board. Our paralympians do well, our special Olympians do well, women do well, men do well, children do well. We don't ask as a prerequisite what is your sexual preference, as long as you qualify and apply yourself," declared Neita-Headley.
"It is in the policy document as it relates to sports for all. We don't mention homosexuality in particular, but we mention sports for all, and we do mention tolerance as part of that policy but we do not specify any sexual preference. I would not go in that direction, sports is for all Jamaicans," she added.