Until recently, I had no intention of ever exercising my right to vote. Colour me cynical and disillusioned. My perspective changed after watching the leadership debate between Portia and Andrew (pardon my disregard for honorifics). Portia Simpson Miller demonstrated leadership on a scale that I have never seen in this nation. She courageously defended the human rights of homosexuals and asserted that her administration would not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation. In so doing she set herself on a collision course with The Church, which has played a leading role in the godless stigmatization and marginalization of homosexuals.
I listened in disbelief as Mrs. Simpson-Miller articulately and unflinchingly rejected the sentiments of the former prime minister, Bruce Golding, whose homophobia is the source of the popular anti-gay slogan, “Not in My Cabinet.”
Our administration believes in protecting the human rights of all Jamaicans. No one should be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. Government should provide the protection…and I believe that we should have a look at the buggery law and that members of parliament should be given the opportunity to vote on their conscience on consultation with their constituents.
But for me, I do not support the position of the former prime minister because people should be appointed to positions based on their ability to manage and to lead.
I certainly do not pry or do I have any intention of prying in the private business of anyone. I would appoint anyone with the ability, the capacity and the capability to manage, in my cabinet.
A political leader (now prime minister elect) of our tribalistic, self-righteous society eschewed political expediency in defense of a most principled position.
Pinch me because I must be dreaming.
Homosexuality and a potential review of the buggery laws thereafter became the most prominent issues in the weeks leading up to the elections. Commentary from both sides of the debate filled the news and editorial pages of the Gleaner and Observer newspapers. Commendably, the Gleaner penned multiple editorials in support of Portia’s statement. Read them here and here.
On the campaign trail, members of the Jamaica Labour Party campaigned in St. Elizabeth in support of traditional, heteronormative values. More pointedly, it is easy to assume that Raymond Pryce was the target of the message. He contested a traditionally PNP seat in St. Elizabeth and based on media appearances he is a bonafide ‘mantu’ (non-gender conforming male).
Days later at a mass rally in St. Mary Vaz said, “We don’t buy number two inna Cash Pot,” and “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve,” as JLP supporters cheered and shouted anti-gay epithets.
Not to be outdone, Desmond McKenzie, the JLP deputy leader, declared “faiya bon!” while TOK’s Chi Chi Man played in the background at a rally in Gordon Town. I have never attended a political rally, but if my experiences at parties when Boom Bye Bye is mixed in by the ‘silekta’ are anything to go by, (figurative) gunshots must have filled the air.
In St. James, armed with Bible in hand, Clive Mullings admonished his supporters to unite against repeal of the buggery laws.
Quoting scriptures, Mullings pointed the large gathering to Genesis Chapter 19: verse 24, citing the reason why “the Lord poured down sulphur and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah.”
How curious that this charge came from a man who is widely rumoured to be a mantu.
This is not the first time that homophobia was used as a tool to secure votes, but Portia’s unprecedented statement in support of equality made the warnings that more grave and the need to vote for Labour that more urgent. One of my followers on twitter hastened to remind me that Andrew Holness didn’t himself make any homophobic statements. On the contrary, his silence spoke volumes. The JLP obviously had an informal agenda to fan the flames of homophobia to distract the electorate from far more critical issues affecting our nation.
The pollsters and the pundits anticipated a close election with many giving the edge to the Jamaica Labour Party. To the shock of most, the PNP swept the elections 41-22.
Pryce decisively won his seat by over 4,000 votes. Now we wait for god’s wrath; moral depravity has clearly taken hold of our blessed land.
Ernest Smith, who in 2009 claimed that the police force was “overrun” with homosexuals and demanded that J-FLAG be disbanded because it was corrupting public morality and encouraging criminality, lost his seat in St. Ann. Perchance the entire country is overrun with homosexuals and their sympathizers?
Clive Mullings, certified mantu preacher man, lost his seat in St. James. My, my, perhaps there is a god!
Thanks to voters in Portland Western, we have five more years of the jabbering Daryl Vaz who suffers from verbal diarrhea.
My country will have a Prime Minister who leads by example. Even after enduring a media campaign which underhandedly attacked her intelligence and unruly temperament, she courageously stood by an unpopular opinion. Many speculated that she sealed her losing fate and lamented that she should have prevaricated on the issue as Holness had done. They were very wrong.
Portia proved that she has mettle. That, my friends, is a mark of an excellent leader.
This election gives me great hope for a more inclusive Jamaica. As reported on TVJ news, Portia defended her position at a mass rally in Hanover, reaffirming her declaration that the state has no business in people’s bedrooms. The horns blared. The fists remained aloft. And the people still voted for her and her party.
Our response to homosexuality is evolving. What a great time to be gay in Jamaica!
Now can we retire bombastic claims that Jamaica is the most homophobic place on earth?