HUMAN Rights group Jamaican for Justice is calling for Political Ombudsman Herro Blair to resign from that post.
In a release to the media the group said Blair's recent comments from the pulpit on the controversial buggery issue has eroded the perception that he is politically impartial.
"Political impartiality and the clear perception of impartiality are essential to the role of Political Ombudsman. Reports of comments recently made by Bishop Herro Blair have eroded the perception of his political impartiality, and in light of this, Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) is calling for his resignation from the position of Political Ombudsman," the release said.
President of the People’s National Party Portia Simpson Miller had said during the recent political debates that she would review the Buggery Law sending of an ongoing debate and the issue has become the subject of political campaigning as politicians hustle for votes.
"It is reported that Bishop Blair took a clear position on the issue, encouraging voters to support his declared position. Whereas both in his personal capacity and as a Bishop in his church, Bishop Blair is absolutely entitled to hold and voice his opinion on the issue and to encourage persons to support that position, this action would erode his ability to be seen as an impartial adjudicator in his role as Political Ombudsman," the release said.
"The content and tone of some of his comments would make it difficult for him to continue to speak out against inflammatory language coming from political candidates and political platforms," the JFJ said.
JFJ is calling on Bishop Blair to do the right thing and resign from his position as Political Ombudsman with immediate effect.
In a subsequent radio interview on Radio Jamaica RJR with Dionne Jackson Miller Bishop Blair who did not appear live but was recorded earlier by phone intimated that he was misquoted and that the Jamaicans for Justice should have checked the recording, when pressed what did he actually said he then directed the host and the Jamaicans for Justice group to the recorded service.
However Executive Director Carolyn Gomes said in response that it is he the Bishop and Ombudsman who should have checked as the quotations of him in the various media has stood for the past thirty six hours or so without him contesting their accuracy instead of waiting until her group the Jamaicans for Justice has now challenging the statements and his impartiality that he denies what was reported.
The issue of his position of a bishop than that of an Ombudsman if he cannot separate the two in response Mrs Gomes responded that he should not seek to incite subtly or otherwise violence against any group or take a side with any party when persons are to report infractions to his office, he maybe unable to deal with them as his impartiality or the appearance of being impartial has been compromised.
She also said that the JFJ has amassed support for their stance and the support is growing with groups and individuals, she however never named them.
BLAIR… we have to stop it in its bud
“My concern is not with reviewing a law, my concern is that next year this time, if you as Christians don’t go out and listen to the voice of God — not Herro Blair now — to direct you, because we don’t know who is who… my concern is that next year this time, the next thing that is going to happen in this country is an approach to same-sex marriage,” Blair said during his Christmas Day message to about 2,000 members at his church on Waltham Park Road in Kingston.
“Unnu build a prison for me, because I’m not doing it,” the bishop said, echoing the sentiments of some pastors who told the Observer last week that they would never accept the lifestyle of the gay, transgendered and lesbian community.
Last Tuesday night during the national leadership debate between Simpson Miller and Prime Minister Andrew Holness, Simpson Miller said her People’s National Party (PNP), if elected to form the Government, would review the buggery law and ask for a conscience vote on the issue in Parliament.
Her pledge has reignited what has traditionally been a hot-button issue in Jamaica where homosexuality is frowned upon by the majority of the population.
For years, local and international gay lobbyists have been trying to get Jamaica to repeal the buggery law, but have so far been unsuccessful in their bid.
Recently, the United Kingdom said it would cut aid to countries that uphold laws against homosexuality, while the United States indicated that it would ensure that US diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered persons.
Bishop Blair, in his message on Sunday, pointed to that kind of international pressure, saying: “God not dead, God not asleep, God will look out for his own and Jamaica don’t want no English man, and we don’t want no Spanish man, and we don’t want nobody from Europe or China to tell us how to live; and what they are doing is that they are putting pressure on our politicians to yield.”
He urged his congregants to call the candidates seeking their votes and ascertain their individual views on homosexuality, ahead of Thursday’s general election.
“You are going to vote on Thursday [but] before you vote, don’t call Portia and don’t call Andrew, call your candidate and ask your candidate what are their moral beliefs, what they defend,” he cautioned during the service, which was attended by the PNP candidate for St Andrew East Central Dr Peter Phillips and his JLP contender Beverly Prince.
“My problem is not with reviewing the law, I am going to review it tomorrow (Monday), I have it in my office. I am going to look at it, that’s a review,” Blair said. “But when you get a government — any government out of the two elected — and one have three here and the other may have six or seven over there, that is 10 out of 63. We have to stop it in its bud, you are going to have to kill it in its bud,” he said.
“I will go back to country and I will plant yellow yam and cocoa and dasheen and I will start a dasheen factory or a cocoa factory; I will sell tamarind ball, but this country is God’s country,” he said.
The pastor, who reminded the churchgoers that God had destroyed two cities before because of immorality, was equally vocal about what he believes was the silence of the church community on the issue.
“The church has been sleeping in this nation. The whole church has been sleeping in this nation because the church of the living God has given up its responsibility and that’s why they cuss us off whenever they want to,” said the pastor.
Buggery law backlash – Blair: The church has been sleeping – Blair warns review could lead to same-sex marriages