Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding said the country's parliament would not recognize same-sex marriage while he was in power.
"I make no apology in saying decisively and emphatically that the government of Jamaica remains irrevocably opposed to the recognition, legitimization or acceptance of same-sex marriages or same-sex unions," Golding said on Tuesday.
AdvertisementThe prime minister was opening parliamentary debate on a major proposed amendment to the constitution which would lay out the scope of rights and freedoms for Jamaicans.
The provision, known as the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, has been under consideration for several years in the island nation.
"There is the possibility that sometime in the future parliament could pass a law that says same-sex unions are legal but it won't be done in this parliament. Not as long as I sit here."
Golding, who in 2007 told the BBC he would not allow gays to sit in his cabinet, said he does not believe it is the business of government to "interfere in what two consenting adults chose to do within their own protected privacy.
But he stressed "I will not accept it that homosexuality must be accepted as a legitimate form of behavior or the equivalent of marriage."
He acknowledged to parliament that his stance could prompt the "aggressive" international gay-rights lobby to continue attempts to discourage tourists and investors from traveling to Jamaica.
"But we remain steadfast in our determination that the values and culture must be protected and preserved," Golding said.
Jamaica's constitution affirms the right to freedom of association, but the country has experienced recent antipathy towards gays and gay rights groups, according to Human Rights Watch.
Earlier this year the rights group wrote the prime minister urging action to stem endemic violence against gays, bisexuals and transgender people in Jamaica and calling for Golding to condemn a member of his Jamaica Labor Party who called for tightening of laws against homosexual conduct.
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