KINGSTON, JAMAICA – Gay rights groups are calling the inclusion of Jamaica’s prime minister, Portia Simpson-Miller, in TIME magazine’s “100 Most Influential People of 2012” positive reinforcement for what the publication called “her brave stance” in support of LGBT civil rights.
The article entry for Simpson-Miller, which was penned by U.S. Rep. Yvette D. Clarke (D-NY), cites the prime minister’s courageous support for LGBT equality during the election, which resulted in defeat for the island nation’s ruling party.
Simpson-Miller, the candidate of the People’s National Party (PNP), was clear in her message calling for an end to violence against LGBT persons, and the persistent homophobia that permeates much of Jamaica’s mainstream and pop cultures, including “murder music” played in the clubs that encourages violence against and even the killing of gay people.
“No one should be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation,” Simpson-Miller said during the election. “Government should provide the protection and I think we should have a look at the buggery law and that members of parliament should be given an opportunity to vote with their conscience on consultation with their constituents.”
Jamaica’s anti-sodomy, or “buggery,” laws date to colonial times. Time’s inclusion of Simpson-Miller in its list stands in contrast to its 2006 profile of the island country, in which it posited whether Jamaica was “The most homophobic place on earth?”.