Jamaican MP calls for gay group to be outlawed

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A homophobic politician generated more headlines in Jamaica with another attack on gay people.

Ernest Smith, a government backbench MP, caused controversy last week when he claimed the country’s police force had been “over-run by homosexuals.”

He also said in a parliamentary debate: “I am very concerned that homosexuals in Jamaica have become so brazen, they’ve formed themselves into organisations.”

Under pressure from the Jamaican Labour Party Mr Smith has apologised for his comments about the police but stands by his calls for organisations such as the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) to be outlawed.

“How can you legitimise an organisation that is formed for the purpose of committing criminal offences?” Mr Smith told the Jamaica Gleaner.

Ms Smith demanded the island’s Director of Public Prosecutions investigate J-FLAG. So far no action has been taken.

J-FLAG told PinkNews.co.uk that the Jamaican Constitution grants freedom of peaceful assembly and association, “and in particular to form or belong to trade unions or other associations for the protection of his interests.”

“J-FLAG has been able to operate successfully under this provision in the legislation for the past ten years,” the group said.

“J-FLAG agitates for legal and social change and we believe that there is always provision for any group to agitate for laws to be changed.”

The Labour Party may be embarassed by Mr Smith’s comments, but its leader has publicly made similar homophobic statements.

Last year Prime Minister Bruce Golding told the BBC that he would never allow gays in his Cabinet.

Under colonial-era laws homosexual acts are punishable in Jamaica with up to ten years in jail, usually with hard labour.