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Opposition wants referendum on buggery and ganja

Friday, April 25, 2014    

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OPPOSITION Leader Andrew Holness has suggested that the Government resolve a number of key issues by allowing the people to decide in a grand referendum next year.

Holness suggested to Prime Minister Portia Simpson that she could remove the "uncertainties" surrounding a number of social issues -- the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as Jamaica's final appeal court; liberalisation of ganja laws; review of the buggery law; and having the Queen of England as the head of State -- by way of a "grand referendum" in 2015.

"There is an election due some time next year; why not make arrangements to have a grand referendum at that time. It would be cost-effective and would certainly settle all these thorny issues and, at the same time, answer the questions where are we going on the social issues," Holness told Parliament, yesterday.

"Madam Prime Minister, if you truly believe in people power, let the people decide. Let us have a grand referendum," Holness pleaded.

He said that the country was affected by uncertainty on economic matters, as well as some topical social issues, and that the people wanted to know where the country was going on the CCJ issue. The Opposition's position on the matter is clear, he said, but ultimately it was a matter for the people to decide.

"Then there is the issue of ganja liberalisation, which has been occupying public attention recently, with a very active lobby. A motion was moved in this House, and from that it was evident that the political parties do not have internally unified positions. Again, this is another matter that the people could decide," he suggested.

"Prime Minister, there is great uncertainty in the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community and ordinary Jamaicans alike about your promise to review the Buggery Act. The issue is very sensitive, of course, I am sure you will agree that more Jamaicans, in general, and interest groups are more open to discussion on the matter. A way to finally bring some certainty to the matter would be to put it to the people," he added.

"... And finally, Madam Prime Minister, this long-standing issue of The Queen as head of State [must be dealt with]. I am sure Jamaica could have our own queen, if we placed this on a referendum," he said.

— Balford Henry

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