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A website dedicated to news affecting the gay community around the world is suggesting that the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) has at least two gay candidates contesting the upcoming election and one of them is being targeted by the governing Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) in a homophobic campaign.
The website, Gaystarnews.com, has also highlighted PNP president Portia Simpson Miller's promise to review the Buggery Act and not to discriminate against homosexuals in appointing her Cabinet as "positive".
In a story headlined 'Jamaican Opposition leader backs gay rights' by Tris Reid-Smith, Gaystarnews.com reported that "the Jamaican Opposition leader has come out in favour of LGBT rights and reviewing the anti-gay buggery law during an election debate".
LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) is a term which better defines what is usually called the gay community.
The story claims that the "PNP has selected a non-gender conforming candidate who has been the subject of a barely veiled homophobic campaign" by the JLP.
It said "Jamaican LGBT rights group J-FLAG has written to the JLP complaining about this tactic".
In a response yesterday, PNP campaign spokesman Delano Franklyn said the party does not concern itself with what happens in persons' bedrooms in selecting its candidates.
"We wish to condemn and deplore any scurrilous attacks against any of our candidates based on what is unfounded in relation to them offering themselves as candidates of the PNP," Franklyn told the Observer.
"The PNP, in determining its representatives in the different constituencies, does so on the basis of their experience, knowledge and commitment, which they bring to the political process, and the loyalty and dedication they have shown in contributing to the growth and development of Jamaica. The party does not seek to investigate the personal lives of candidates in relation to what they do or do not do in their bedrooms," he said.
Simpson Miller's comments made in Tuesday's national leadership debate with Prime Minister Andrew Holness also forced the PNP to issue a news release yesterday seeking to clarify that she promised to review — not repeal — the Buggery Act which makes gay sex illegal.
According to the website, "Simpson Miller said no one should be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation, and that she would have no problem appointing gays to her Cabinet if they were able to do the job."
The website also reported that "she pledged to give politicians a free vote on removing the anti-gay buggery law from the statute books if elected prime minister".
The website also noted the "different stance" taken by Holness.
"Holness went on to again imply that he would not support gay rights — at least until the majority were in favour of them."
It quoted the prime minister's statement in the debate that his "sentiments reflect the sentiments of the country".
Gaystarnews.com describes itself as the first global 24-7 news site with the latest LGBT news, entertainment, information and lifestyle content.
It says it is owned by a company backed by international investment, with full-time journalists around the world covering stories affecting the LGBT community.
Yesterday's release from the PNP stated that Simpson Miller would allow members of Parliament a conscience vote on the issue, and such a vote would take into consideration the views of constituents.
"The PNP president remains committed to her pledge to make appointments to a Cabinet led by her on the basis of competence", the release stated.
Franklyn, in the meantime, said that when the Buggery Act is being reviewed MPs would be free to exercise their conscience in voting as to whether the Act should remain, be amended or repealed.