At least one Jamaica Labour Party member has come out to clarify a statement made by Opposition Leader Andrew Holness at a party rally in Spanish Town, St Catherine Sunday night.
The member is insisting that Holness’ reference to not being a “fish”, was not made against the homosexual community.
Holness, in giving an address at the event, sought to take residents down memory lane as a child growing up in the old capital.
In one case, he explained that he went to a canal in the town to swim and got into difficulty. He said he "nearly drowned”.
Explaining how he got out of the situation, Holness said: "Well, you know we a nuh fish around here."
He, however, managed to swim to safety.
"We are aware of how the international community may misinterpret this, but it shouldn't be viewed as a jab at any member of the society," the JLP member said.
The JLP rally was held in a section of the old capital called Munamar Square.
"Keep it to yuself mentality" on homosexuality 2009
October 18, 2005
I'm no Chi Chi man says PJ
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!"
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