Jamaica’s Prime Minister claims to ‘respect’ the human rights of gay people

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

The Prime Minister of Jamaica has claimed that her country “respects” the rights of gay people.

Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller was addressing protesters on Thursday who disrupted her speech to the Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference in New York, to protest her country’s anti-gay laws.

Homosexuality can lead to up to ten years in prison in Jamaica – but a strong social taboo on the issue means that homophobic vigilante attacks and even murders are also commonplace.

According to the Jamaica Gleaner, she told the protesters that her country respects the human rights of all its citizens, including gays.

She said: “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 [former political leader] Marcus Mosiah Garvey.

“This woman is not afraid of no man, nowhere, anywhere, and I will speak the truth everywhere.

“Jamaica will continue to rise and shine globally. Jamaica will rise and shine all over the world and no one man can stop that.”

The politician had said she would consider decriminalising homosexuality before her election in 2011 – but has gone back on her promise.

She has since been accused of “betraying” voters on the issue, by failing to act on her pledge.