PJ urges tolerance – Former prime minister calls for understanding in gay debate

(Jamaica Gleaner) 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.

Former Prime Minister PJ Patterson addresses a Rotary Club of Spanish Town weekly meeting, held at the Police Officers’ Club in St Andrew on Tuesday night.
Former Prime Minister PJ Patterson addresses a Rotary Club of Spanish Town weekly meeting, held at the Police Officers’ Club in St Andrew on Tuesday night.

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.

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