I am not going to accept this call from PJ just like that on the face of it, self aggrandizement here as he seems to have forgotten what he has helped to put us through with regards to fuelling homophobia and homo-negativity while being a powerful member of the PNP and as the longest serving Prime Minister; today’s headline in the Gleaner blared the call for tolerance on the discussions on buggery from former PM, does the retired politician remember that when he was active as a cabinet member and under his selection of the parliamentary joint select committee the buggery law was discussed where they basically threw out the JFLAG (when they really meant something) parliamentary submission and the shaky now removed sexual orientation discrimination clause in the Charter of Rights draft at the time by asking for proof of the origins of homosexuality and other irrelevant data in my view. JFLAG needs to accept some responsibility as well as the head strong management refused to change their call from a full repeal to decriminalization hence the push back from politicians who are more bout pandering yet still to the gallery than dealing with matters as they are and need to be dealt with.
I remember the rebuff from the then Justice Minister A. J. Nicholson (now Foreign Affairs Minister) on any mention of “repealing” the Buggery Law yet the word tolerance was never on the lips of Mr Patterson, so what has changed and is this change or new position genuine? I think not this feels like damage control as the administration watches nervously as the Bain vs HIV/LGBT groups war is on in earnest unexpected as it was after the news broke of the rift since May 18 2014 by the Gleaner. Mr Patterson was still active in 2006 when the aforementioned Justice Minister penned the administration’s position on not allowing gay marriage when such demands were never made as fear mongering was devised as another strategy to deny objectively looking at LGBT issues, the word “tolerance” let alone the concept was not in the language of politicians who feared loss of political capital.
Does Mr Patterson have convenient amnesia when during an election meeting in Half Way Tree the JLP used as a campaign song TOK’s Chi Chi Man and other anti gay recordings on the hustings in their campaign strategy as well but he Patterson must remember he has greatly helped to contribute to the current state of affairs in terms on general homo-negativity even in the face of his own denial of his perceived sexual orientation at the time as persons used that same perception to take jibes at him. The image of the PNP and him were more important then than the virtuous ideal of tolerance in the true essence of it.
Why didn't he talk of tolerance then?
Why didn't he urge the same old anti gay groups then such as the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship and Reverend Al Miller who are now up front and centre helping to cement the old and previously dormant homophobic views via the opposition to the firing of Professor Bain from CHART?
This call is from PJ in my view if not genuine and more a political ploy to assist Portia Simpson Miller’s image and by extension the PNP given her latest honorary degree from Lafayette University for supposed human rights work (where I do not know) recently opposed by some LGBT advocates such as the Caribbean Alliance for Equality. Elections are close and the geopolitics is at play with Chinese investments in the pipeline (sans LGBT pre-requisites while EU/US grants and aid have such) is Mr Patterson still calling the shots in the PNP hence this call given the present circumstances? And when persons are not in the seat of power they have such a great vision yet the convenient excuses for corruption, the law is not a shackle line, youthful exuberance and more dodging too numerous to list.
Hypocrisy yet again.
Have a read of the Gleaner’s report (limited free page views)
Jermaine Francis, Staff Reporter
Former Prime Minister PJ Patterson is urging that the debate over Jamaica's buggery law be framed within the context of current world trends and the realities that various differences exist in the society.
Patterson, addressing a Rotary Club of Spanish Town meeting at the Police Officers' Club in St Andrew Tuesday night, said both sides of the debate - those for, and those against repealing the buggery law - should find some common ground on which to resolve their differences in opinion.
He said the society has to engage in a more meaningful conversation on the issue, which must take place in an environment that recognises and accepts that there will be differences in people's sexual preferences.
"It's an issue, I know, where people have very strong positions, but we have to find a way of moving away from polarised positions into one that accepts that differences of race or colour, differences of class, [and] differences even in terms of sexual preferences may have to be addressed in conformity with the prevailing global environment in which we live," Patterson said.
Patterson, who served as prime minister from 1992 to 2006, said there is a certain level of privacy that should not be invaded and there is already an accepted code as to what are considered appropriate "public displays of relationships from that which happens in the privacy and confines of one's house".
However, he was quick to point out that those advocating for changes to the law must also demonstrate tolerance towards those who do not share their views.
"Those who wish to have changes must accept the right of persons to speak freely, reflecting their convictions and they can't expect to have all the say going one way, they must expect others to have contending positions," he added.
The latest round of public debate over the laws outlawing buggery has stemmed from the University of the West Indies' dismissal of Professor Brendan Bain from his position as director of the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Regional Training (CHART) Network.
The termination of Bain's tenure came after several groups connected to CHART said his expert testimony, provided in a constitutional challenge to Belizean sodomy law, represented a conflict of interest and they no longer had confidence in his leadership.
For the former prime minister, the matter is now at a stage where he said he expects a court battle to commence shortly.
"I suspect it is a matter that will find itself before our courts," Patterson said.
He said the current impasse raises some very serious issues, the crux of which speaks to professionals and their duty to provide fulsome and trustworthy reports in court.
"At the bottom of this is the question of the duty of a professional person in giving expert evidence to base that testimony on reliable analysis and a full flow of information."
Patterson said this was a matter that the entire nation should become involved with, as it has far-reaching implications.
Recall this story by the Observer in 2005 as well:
PRIME minister P J Patterson yesterday frontally confronted Opposition insinuations that he is homosexual and declared it to be the worst attempt at demonisation by the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP).
"My credentials as a lifelong heterosexual person are impeccable," Patterson, 63 told hosts Beverly Anderson-Manley and Anthony Abrahams of the HOT 102 morning talk show, the Breakfast Club. "Anybody who tries to say otherwise is not just smearing and in vulgar abuse... but when you talk about demonising, what is that?
"I want to put that on the table squarely," Patterson said.
JLP leader, Edward Seaga, ignited open public speculation about the prime minister's sexuality in 1993 when he declared from a campaign platform that no one had ever accused him of "Boom, bye, bye", drawing on the song by the Jamaican dancehall deejay, Buju Banton that advocated the killing of homosexuals.
That song seriously derailed Buju Banton's career when American gays encouraged a boycott of the deejay, until he publicly apologised.
The rumours have lingered about the bachelor Patterson, who was once married to the late Guyanese lawyer and government minister, Shirley Field-Ridley. The couple had two children before they divorced.
Although Patterson jealously guards his private life, he has been romantically linked to several women over the years, including most recently to a well-known caterer and then to a divorced public health doctor. Before that, he was also reportedly romantically linked to the ex-wife of a former Barbados government minister.
However, since March the rumours about the prime minister have returned with a vengeance, when the JLP used the anti-homosexual song, Chi Chi Man, by the Jamaican group T O K as the signature for its campaign in the March by-election for the North East St Ann constituency. It has since then been used extensively by the JLP at its public meetings.
That song says:
'From dem a par in a chi chi man car gi wi fire mek we bun dem'
'From dem a drink in a chi chi man bar gi wi fire mek we bun dem'
While the singers have denied that the song promotes violence, the English translation of the Jamaican dialect would be roughly that people who hang out with homosexuals or effeminate males (chi chi men) should be burnt. One line even proposes to "full dem up with copper shot".
In homophobic Jamaica the song has gained great popularity, helped in no small measure by its infectious melody.
In the past, Patterson has talked around innuendoes about his sexuality. For instance, his stern declaration at last year's annual conference of the People's National Party that his government would not legalise homosexuality, in the face of a promotion of the issue by Amnesty International, was largely seen as an attempt at asserting his own heterosexuality.
He raised the issue yesterday -- without being asked -- in the context of recent claims by the JLP that the PNP had fomented violence in Seaga's West Kingston constituency as part of an attempt to demonise the JLP leader as a man of violence -- a reputation that Seaga has carried over his long political career. But even then, Patterson first alluded to the claim only obliquely, but later spoke about it directly.
West Kingston, Seaga's constituency and venue of his Tivoli Gardens base is considered to be volatile territory and, according to the JLP, his opponents use it as a flash-point to trigger anti-Seaga sentiments anytime a general election is near.
In dismissing any attempt by his party to demonise Seaga, Patterson noted that like all political leaders, Jamaicans had an image of the JLP boss "some of which is favourable, some of which is unfavourable".
"Nobody is manufacturing anything against Mr Seaga, nobody is fabricating anything against him," Patterson said. "Tell me what is it that the PNP has fabricated against Seaga, unlike what is being attempted against me."
Later, after specifically raising the homosexual question and suggesting that both Anderson-Manley and Abrahams, who have known him for 40 years, should know the truth, Patterson declared: "It is wicked!"
Mr Patterson had a chance to do the right thing instead he chose to play the political game so as not to loose face.
UPDATE June 8, 2014
Peace and tolerance