US Ambassador to Jamaica Miss Pamela Bridgewater appeared on an interview recently online called Conversations with America and which also had as guest Ambassador Curtis Ward, former ambassador of Jamaica to the United Nations and currently President of the Caribbean Research and Policy Center, which took place at the department on March 16. The conversation was moderated by deputy assistance secretary Cheryl Benton which took a brief look at issues that both governments at the diplomatic level were and are working on.
A member of Gays Without Borders also posed some questions among them were:
How is the U.S. prodding the Kingston government to investigate and prosecute bias motivated crimes and will the upcoming annual human rights report mention an improvement or setback for LGBT concerns in Jamaica?
Are there plans to counter the virulent anti-LGBT preaching of religious leaders? What movement can be taken to repeal the anti buggery statues through legislative or judicial avenues?
However the captioned one was posed in the interview:
"Well, as the individual stated, our human rights report is being vetted right now, so I will not comment on what it states because it has not been released. But I will say that our embassy has engaged very, very aggressively with Jamaica with Jamaicans on a plethora of human rights issues.
Women's issues, the rights of vulnerable populations, children, trafficking in persons, LGBT. I have worked personally on these issues and will continue to do so. So I can assure the questioner that we are involved very vigorously on these areas."
According to the GWB member also Ambassador Ward took the opportunity to address how the new prime minister Portia Simpson-Miller would hire a gay person for her administration:
"If I might add to that Ambassador, you may recall that during the last election campaign in Jamaica, the now current prime minister had made a statement.
Which in effect, was a deliberate shift from what had been the perception at least, if not the practice, that she would not be discriminating against any individuals who were gay. That they could serve in her cabinet, that they could be appointed to high positions. So this is a big step in the right direction for Jamaica.
I think the questioner needs to . . . should understand there are steps being taken for greater tolerance and societies like Jamaica will never shift overnight from one position to another. It has to be a gradual process. I think we are in the right direction."
And Bridgewater replied:
"We certainly commend that and are certainly looking forward to other opportunities to expand human rights in Jamaica."
This conversation is remarkable for the fact that Jamaica's former representative to the United Nations was more direct and specific about gays in his country, than the American ambassador who tip-toed around gay concerns. Is she afraid of a backlash or something why she didn't respond? certainly we would not expect the details of talks and activities but to just side step a simple question as posed is just plain poor in my book. Was she leaving it to Ambassador Ward to handle it?