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Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller Defiant In Response To Gay Rights Protesters in NY: VIDEO

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Members of LGBT activist group Jamaica Anti-Homophobia Stand interrupted a speech given by Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller at a diaspora meeting in New York last Thursday, reports the Washington Blade.

Portia_Miller_insert_public_domainSimpson-Miller was speaking at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Manhattan. The activists were addressing her government’s lack of response to increasing anti-gay violence in Jamaica. The group also challenged her outside of the church, chanting “Gay rights Portia. Protect Jamaica’s gays.”

According to the Jamaica-Gleaner, Simpson-Miller challenged the protesters from the podium:

“Nobody ever 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 came here with the blood of Nanny of the Maroons and the spirit of Marcus Mosiah Garvey, and this woman is not afraid of no man, nowhere, anywhere. And I will speak the truth everywhere.”

A report from the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays (JFLAG) found that at least 30 gay men have been murdered on the island between 1997 and 2004. These include J-FLAG co-founder Brian Williamson who was stabbed to death inside his home in Kingston in 2004.

Jamaica is among the English-speaking countries in the Caribbean in which consensual gay sex remains illegal. Simpson-Miller said shortly before her 2011 election that she intended to review the country’s anti-sodomy law.

Watch a video of last week's confrontation, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Jamaican Activist Fears Reprisals, Ends Legal Challenge To Anti-Sodomy Law - VIDEO

Javed Jaghai

A gay rights activist has withdrawn a legal challenge to Jamaica’s anti-sodomy laws after growing fears of violent backlashes, reports WTOP.com.

Last year, Javed Jaghai initiated a constitutional challenge to an 1864 law that bans sex between men.  He argued that the law fuels homophobia and violates a 2011 charter of human rights that guarantees a right to privacy.

Jaghai is the Education and Outreach Officer at the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals & Gays (J-FLAG).

As it stands, the law bans anal sex and sets a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and hard labor. Anything interpreted as "gross indecency" between men is punishable with two years in prison.

When Jaghai initiated the legal challenge in 2013, several church pastors led crowded revival meetings to oppose overturning the anti-sodomy law.

However, Jaghai has issued a statement saying he is no longer in a position to continue pursuing the case because of fears of a backlash against his family.

Janet Burak of New York-based advocacy group AIDS-Free World said the fear that pushed Jaghai to end his court challenge is "the same fear that keeps gay men in Jamaica underground, away from effective HIV testing, prevention treatment, care and support interventions.”

Although Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller spoke in favor of gay rights in 2012 and has vowed to put the anti-sodomy law to a "conscience vote," there has as yet been no movement in that area.

Watch Jaghai discuss human rights in Jamaica, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Jamaica's New PM Portia Simpson-Miller Speaks Out for LGBT Rights, Says Gays Welcome in Her Cabinet: VIDEO

Simpson-miller

Jamaica's new Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller is being sworn in today, and has made her support for LGBT rights very clear. Here's what she said in a debate in December:

"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...."

Simpson-Miller says she would allow gay people to serve in her cabinet: "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."

Watch progress in action, AFTER THE JUMP...

(clip via think progress lgbt)

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