Thursday 13 December, 2018

Holness open to having gay members in his Cabinet

Prime Minister Andrew Holness

Prime Minister Andrew Holness

Ten years after then Prime Minister, Bruce Golding declared that he would not have gays in his Cabinet, his successor, Andrew Holness has suggested that he would have no problems with homosexuals in his executive.

Golding’s statement a decade ago was made during an interview with BBC News. Holness’ comments came in response to a question during his address to members of the Jamaican Diaspora in Brussels on Sunday.

”The culture is evolving. The people are evolving. Even in the church, which 10 years ago had a unified position (against homosexuality), the church in Jamaica now has multiple positions on the issue,” Holness told his audience.

He pleaded for patience on the contentious subject matter within the Jamaican society.

“I think that Jamaica ought to be given space to find its own solution to the problem,” Holness said.

“Absolutely not,” was his reply when asked if he would adopt Golding’s position.

“Firstly, it’s not my business, neither is it my interest. Whatever is in my discretion to distribute politically, a person’s sexuality or sexual orientation is not a criteria for the use of my discretion,” he elaborated.

Holness was the Minister of Education in the 2008 Cabinet when Golding made what was for many in the international community a controversial statement. At the time, Holness did not offer a position on the matter.

Now he appears to be appealing to the voice of reason.

He told audience members that the issue of homosexuality is not one that Jamaica is afraid to address.

“The truth is that, in the past, like many developed countries now, there was a very conservative view on these matters. Jamaica is a part of Western culture. We are generally liberally orientated; we are very well connected into the world,” Holness proffered.

He continued that, “Jamaica is going through its own process – just as Europe did 50 years ago and some probably 20 years ago or more recent than that. And it can be very frustrating for Jamaicans to understand what is happening – to feel a little bit targeted sometimes.”

He was quick to point out that the Jamaican state protects the human rights of all its nationals, regardless of their sexual preferences.

“I think we are generally very liberal, but more so, very tolerant. The first steps that are positive steps include that the state protects the human rights of every citizen regardless of sexual orientation or inclination, and that’s the… start.”

Regarding human rights, the prime minister said: “I think the culture needs to evolve; the conversation needs to be had; and it can’t be stoked or pushed. It is something that will evolve over time.”

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