|—||Minister stands firm against gay grooming - Lead Stories - Jamaica Gleaner - Friday | May 17, 2013|
Tomlinson is a very brave man. He has also challenged anti-sodomy/ant-gay laws in Jamaica as welll as Trinidad & Tobago.
And I hope his son wins the spelling bee.
Most advocates usually focus on the needs of others, but I am departing from this model for a very personal reason. I hope when you read the information below you will join my letter writing campaign: ‘Self-Respect, Solidarity and Section 5’ to get me to my son’s spelling bee finals in Belize.
Don’t worry, this is not a plea for funds.
You see, in a matter of weeks, my brilliant boy will be competing in the National Spelling Bee Finals in Belize. However, as a gay man, I am legally barred from entering the country to see him.
This is because Section 5 of Belize’s Immigration Act bans the entry of homosexuals, as well as persons who are mentally challenged (described as ‘any idiot or any person who is insane or mentally deficient…’) and the physically disabled (described as ‘deaf and dumb or deaf and blind, or dumb and blind…’). Together, we are all considered ‘prohibited classes’.
I could possibly sneak into the country, but, out of self-respect, and in solidarity with all unjustly prohibited persons, I refuse to visit Belize until the discriminatory law is repealed.
I have also been told that I could get a government waiver, but this would amount to me being declared an ‘honorary heterosexual’, in much the same way that blacks who did business with the Apartheid-era regime in South Africa were declared ‘honorary whites’.
Such a demeaning prospect is unthinkable to me.
Taboo Yardies: Film explores deep roots of homophobia in Jamaica (by Thomson Reuters Foundation)
An interview with Selena Blake, director, on her film documenting the violence and homophobia in Jamaica.
Two very brave women.
Two transgender women in Jamaica have added their voices to the We Are Jamaicans campaign to encourage respect and understanding for LGBT people and increase their visibility in the Caribbean nation.
‘I am not a threat to society,’ says Whitney in her video.
‘I don’t want to spend most of my life hiding who I am from the world. I want you to see how beautiful I am. I want you to see how human I am.’
The We Are Jamaica campaign launched in January this year and features video from gay men, straight allies, lesbians and transgender people.
The project is funded by the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coaltion (CVC) and run by Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG).
‘The voices of transgender women in the We are Jamaicans campaign is in an effort to bring visibility to their lives and to not limit our definition of “woman” to genitalia,’ said a statement from J-FLAG who are running the campaign.
‘If you don’t know me, what would you think?’ asks Tiana Miller in another video.
‘I don’t have life easy. I feel alienated, always being bashed by society, but that doesn’t change who I am or who I want to be.’
Watch the videos here:
A Jamaican gay rights activist last week filed the Caribbean island’s first domestic challenge to its anti-sodomy law.
AIDS-Free World on Feb. 7 filed the complaint with the Jamaica Supreme Court on behalf of Javed Jaghai, who said his landlord kicked him out of his home because of his sexual orientation. The Dartmouth College graduate talked about his case in a Facebook post on Tuesday.
“It is a reminder that there is much more work to be done to achieve equality for gay Jamaicans,” Jaghai wrote. “We can sit patiently while our humanity is denied and wait for the paradigm to shift in a generation or two, or we can aggressively agitate for change now. I choose to do the latter.”
Those convicted under Jamaica’s anti-sodomy law, which dates back to 1864, face up to 10 years in prison with hard labor. Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and St. Kitts and Nevis are among the 11 English-speaking Caribbean countries that continue to criminalize homosexual acts.
J-FLAG, Jamaica’s gay rights group, launches YouTube video campaign, “We Are Jamaicans”
Dane Lewis, the executive director of J-FLAG, Jamaica’s foremost gay rights advocacy organisation, is headlining a new a human rights video campaign featuring straight, gay and lesbian Jamaicans.
The campaign, which is called We Are Jamaicans was launched today to raise awareness among Jamaicans about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) identity and community, human rights, stigma and discrimination. We Are Jamaicans is a participatory video campaign hosted on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/user/EqualityJA. It features prominent Jamaicans such as Susan and Alexis Goffe and Javed Jaghai.
According to Lewis, “the campaign was developed following recommendations from consultations with LGBT persons, activists and allies to show the experiences of Jamaica’s LGBT community in a more diverse way.”
There is an urgent need to interrupt prevailing discourse on LGBT realities in Jamaica. Opportunities must be created for Jamaicans to see and hear about the experiences of LGBT people so they can understand what it means to be LGBT.
“Regrettably, the diversity and the complexity of Jamaica’s LGBT community is masked by media and advocacy narratives that too often focus on sex, victimhood, crime and HIV. These themes are not identity-affirming and they sometimes further entrench the marginal position of LGBT people in the society,” Lewis said.
Javed Jaghai, an openly gay Jamaican, says that ignorance helps to fuel homophobia and the campaign will be critical for increasing understanding among the Jamaican public about gender and sexuality variance. “By diversifying the stories told about LGBT lives, the complexity of LGBT identities will be made apparent and it will be easier to evoke empathy and secure general support for tolerance,” he highlighted.
The Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) through its Global Fund Vulnerablised Project funds the campaign. It is expected to lead to greater understanding and help change minds and hearts about Jamaica’s LGBT community. Gay, lesbian and straight Jamaicans are encouraged to use creative ways of sharing their experiences with LGBT issues and join the campaign whether they wish to show their face or not.
Read more here: http://miamiherald.typepad.com/gaysouthflorida/#storylink=cpy
Click on read more to view the cartoon. TW homophobia.
The Jamaica Observer, one of the country’s main daily papers, published an anti-gay editorial cartoon on Christmas Day (25 December), designed, according to local gay activists, to inflame hate.
The cartoon is meant, according to Jamaican activists, to foment hate by ridiculing gays and depicting them as a threat to young boys.
The cartoon depicts a young boy undisturbed by men dressed in scary Jonkanoo parade costumes, a Jamaican Christmas custom, yet terrified of a gay stereotyped in an offensive effeminate manner.
TVJ - JAMAICANS MUST ACCEPT GAYS\HOMOSEXUALS (NOV 27TH 2012) (by dutty redz)
Dr. Fenton Ferguson, Jamaica’s minister of health, on the need to repeal the country’s buggery laws and ‘move forward’. Hopefully, his actions will speak louder than his words.
A follow-up to my previous post and the Jamaican government’s decision not to rescind the anti-buggery laws.
Open Letter to Jamaica’s minister of justice, The Honourable Mark Golding regarding the delayed review of the country’s anti-buggery law.
Dear Honourable Minister Golding,
I read with dismay, but not surprise, that the government of Jamaica has put the issue of the promised review of the anti-sodomy law on hold, perhaps indefinitely.
Permit me to say, Honourable Minister, that the reasons given for this deferral present a false choice between reading down the anti-buggery law to decriminalize the private consensual acts of adults, and addressing the economic and criminal realities facing the country.
The existence of the anti-buggery law and the homophobia it supports has caused Jamaica to miss out on the lucrative gay tourism market estimated at US$188 Billion annually.
There is also a steady hemorrhaging of talented gay Jamaicans who could contribute to nation’s economic development.
The law also contributes to our HIV epidemic which some persons estimate will cost the country US$540million per annum.
Surely a responsible government would consider these economic realities reason enough to review a 148 year old British colonially imposed law, which, by the way, is virtually unenforceable because of the much stricter privacy provisions in our new Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms.
Additionally, the anti-buggery law adds to our crime rate by criminalizing what consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedrooms!
Furthermore, it gives license to ordinary Jamaicans to engage in barbaric homophobic attacks including the 9 reported murders of gay Jamaicans this year, the brutal slaying of a straight man in the parish of Trelawny for “harbouring” his gay stepson, and the savage beating of a young gay man by security guards at UTech on November 1.
The argument that the government’s legislative drafters are too overwhelmed to deal with this law is simply untenable.
You recently brought legislation to Parliament to repeal whipping prisoners with the cat-of-nine-tails, something the courts have effectively banned since 1997 and which has not been nearly as contentious as the reprehensible and invasive anti-sodomy law that impacts free Jamaicans. Furthermore, legislative drafting can be outsourced to other attorneys as is done elsewhere.
If the government asked J-FLAG, I am sure they could find a few gay lawyers who would happily draft this repeal legislation for free.
There are several precedent worldwide where Parliaments have jetisoned these colonial relics. I am happy to assist with this venture, if you wish.
I urge you, Honourable Minister, to end Jamaica’s shame. As the results of the recent US elections shows, we are increasingly on the wrong side of history with regard to recognizing the human rights of LGBT individuals.
Let us have legislation to read down the anti-sodomy law so that what consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedrooms will no longer be the law’s affair.
Legal Advisor, Marginalized Groups
So issues of crime and the economy are more important than queer peoples lives…
JAMAICANS WHO are in favour of a repeal of the buggery law may have to wait a while longer before the issue is brought to Parliament as the Government has indicated the subject is not among its priorities at this time.
Minister with responsibility for information, Sandrea Falconer, responding to questions during yesterday’s weekly Jamaica House press briefing, said the issue has come up at Cabinet, but has been placed on the back burner.
“It is a matter that we have discussed, but most of the bills that we have focused on are bills that deal with the economy and those are the immediate bills,” Falconer said.
During the run-up to last year’s general election, Portia Simpson Miller, now prime minister, said she would support a conscience vote in Parliament on whether the buggery law should be repealed.
For the matter to be brought to Parliament for consideration, it has to be taken by the Government in the form of a bill, or by way of a motion tabled by any member.
Yesterday, Daryl Vaz, an opposition member of parliament, said while the economy was important, the matter of buggery was “a very serious concern that is facing the country” and the Government must lead on the issue by deciding whether the practice remains illegal.
“If it requires a motion being brought by me on this matter in 2013, I am prepared to do so,” Vaz told The Gleaner.
In the meantime, Falconer said the Government was seeking to make the best use of the resources available within the Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel. She said the body, which is responsible for drafting laws, is “extremely burdened and very short-staffed” and that the Government has decided it is better to focus on economic and crime-related bills.
“We fast-track things like the Evidence Act, so that we can allow for the admission of evidence by video link so that we can deal with issues that have been of concern to the vast majority of Jamaicans,” Falconer said.
She added: “Not that the buggery law is not of concern to a segment of the population, but the issues like crime and the economy, we decided that we are going to give those our priority in terms of the legislation that we pass this year.”
Gay rights campaigners demanded an end to Jamaican ant-gay hate in protest held in front of the country’s consulate in New York.
They also demanded the goverment of Jamaica tackles growing homophobia and repeal the country’s anti-gay laws.
The protest was held yesterday (19 November 19) and was precipitated by a brutal attack against a gay student by security guards of the University of Technology, Jamaica.
Two of the four guards who were caught on video during the attack have been dismissed and taken into police custody. The other guards who stood by and did nothing remain employed to the security company contracted to provide security at the university.
Since January 2011, the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) the island’s main gay rights group recorded fifty-one incidents of attacks against LGBT including, home invasions, physical assaults and mob attacks.
In June 2012, members of the Jamaican LGBT community reported that eight gay men had been murdered in the prior three months.
The protestors called upon the government of Jamaica to do more to fight against such anti-gay hate and deliver on elections pledges to decriminalise homosexuality.
During her December 2011 election campaign, Jamaica’s new prime minister, Portia Simpson-Miller, promised to call for parliamentary conscience vote to review the country’s 148 year old anti-sodomy law.
The law imposes a 10 year prison sentence at hard-labour for even private acts of consensual adult same-sex intimacy.
The prime minister also said she would appoint an LGBT individual to her cabinet, breaking with the anti-gay stance of her predecessor, Bruce Golding who in 2008 that he would never allow gays to form part of his government.
Partly as a result of her courageous stance in this notoriously homophobic country, Simpson-Miller was selected as one of TIME Magazine’s top 100 most influential persons for 2011, ahead of U.S. secretary of state, Hillary Rodham-Clinton.
However, nearly a year after her promise, the prime minister has not taken steps to bring the issue of the law to the floor of parliament.
Fundamentalist religious groups in Jamaica with strong ties to North American evangelical associations have strongly opposed a repeal of the law, claiming that it will open the door to marriage equality.
Protestors also highlighted that the law must be repealed in order to aid the fight against HIV and AIDS.
Dwayne Brown, a gay Jamaican who fled to the USA because of death threats, organized yesterday’s demonstration and said ‘It is time for the Government of Jamaica to protect and preserve the human rights of LGBT Jamaicans. We the people will continue to stand and speak out against homophobia until the civil rights of LGBT Jamaicans are protected.’
Beating of alleged gay student draws condemnation
Saturday, November 03, 2012
TWO of the guards on duty during Thursday’s beating of an alleged gay student at the University of Technology (UTech) were yesterday fired.
Marksman Security Limited, to which the guards were employed, did not say if any action would be taken against two other guards who were on duty at the time of the beating, which was caught on camera and placed on YouTube.
“The actions of the security officers are not in keeping with Marksman Limited’s contractual arrangements and ongoing mandate to protect and secure life and property,” said Robert Epstein, Guardsman’s managing director, in a late afternoon statement.
Epstein, in an interview with the Jamaica Observer earlier, described the action of the guards as a major embarrassment for the company.
The security company said it co-operated with the university and other officials to resolve the matter and, based on initial reviews of the situation, the guards in question were removed from duty with immediate effect, while further investigations continued.
Marskman said it stands for the justice and safety of individuals and that its core responsibility is to protect and secure life and property. “We pride ourselves in providing quality security services, underlined by a genuine concern and respect for all who fall within our care,” said the security company.
and note the video referred to in the article has since been removed from YouTube.
Two young men were attacked and brutally beaten by a mob of onlookers, and security officers of a Jamaican university.
Gay Star News have received unconfirmed perliminary reports from Jamaica that yesterday evening (1 November) two young men were caught having sex in the toilets at the University of Technology (U-Tech) Jamaica.
According to the reports, they were spotted and captured by a mob.
Apparently the two young men tried to escape, however one was caught and brought to the security office of U-Tech where he [was] beaten by the campus security officers, who were supposed to protect him from the mob hurling anti-gay abuse at him.
Reports suggest he may have also suffered violence prior to that by a mob of students and onlookers.
During the video [now removed from YouTube] some of the campus security officers were brutally beating the young man while onlookers cheered and laughed at him, some calling to ‘kill the batty-boy’.
Landmark case seeks to abolish colonial-era ‘buggery’ laws and stop murders and violent attacks on Caribbean homosexuals
- The Guardian,Friday 26 October 2012 17.21 BST
Two gay Jamaicans have launched a legal challenge to colonial-era laws, which in effect criminalise homosexuality, on the grounds that they are unconstitutional and promote homophobia throughout the Caribbean.
The landmark action, supported by the UK-based Human Dignity Trust, is aimed at removing three clauses of the island’s Offences Against Persons Act of 1864, commonly known as the “buggery” laws.
The battle over the legislation – blamed by critics for perpetuating a popular culture of hatred for “batty boys”, as gay men are derided in some dancehall music – has also drawn a British lawyer into the debate, who said that Jamaica should not follow the legislative example of the UK.
The legal challenge is being taken to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, which is modelled on the European Court of Human Rights. Jamaica is not a full member and any ruling would only be advisory and not binding; it would, nonetheless, send out a strong signal of international disapproval.
When the Jamaican prime minister, Portia Simpson Miller, was elected last December, she said she would hire a gay person to serve in her cabinet and condemned discrimination. Despite early sympathetic signals, her government has not attempted to repeal the laws.
The Offences Against Persons Act does not formally ban homosexuality but clause 76 provides for up to 10 years’ imprisonment, with or without hard labour, for anyone convicted of the “abominable crime of buggery committed either with mankind or any animal”. Two further clauses outlaw attempted buggery and gross indecency between two men.
Jamaica has one of the highest murder rates in the world. Murders of gay men are increasing, according to Dane Lewis, executive director of the Jamaica Forum of Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-Flag), who is one of those petitioning the commission.
“This year alone there have been nine [murders],” he said. “The violence in Jamaica is having a spillover effect on other parts of the Caribbean: St Lucia now has a murder or so every year.”
One prominent victim was John Terry, the British honorary consul in Montego Bay, who was found dead in 2009 having been beaten and strangled. A note left on his body read: “This is what will happen to all gays.”
The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Jamaica faces many challenges. They’re discriminated against, outlawed and even attacked and sometimes killed. But a national political leader has finally made a comment that seeks to draw a line on the discrimination.
Jamaica’s only gay rights organization is at the end of a long driveway in a quiet Kingston neighborhood.
It’s called JFLAG — Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays.
But there’s no sign on its door.
Outside, there’s a surveillance camera. Inside, there’s a panic alarm connected to a 24-hour guard service. Security is so tight, the staff use pseudonyms.
Dane Lewis, JFLAG’s 37-year-old director, is the only one who uses his real name.
Soft-spoken and thoughtful, Lewis is no firebrand. Yet he may have one of the country’s most dangerous jobs.
In 2000, a JFLAG founder fled the country after repeated threats. Four years later, another founder was killed with a machete during a robbery in his home. And JFLAG’s last director was attacked by a mob in 2007 and granted political asylum in Canada.
Human Rights Watch says Jamaica has an “epidemic of homophobic violence.” A gay advocacy group estimates that since 1997, nearly 40 people have been killed because of their sexual orientation.
Police say the reports of violence are exaggerated, and many gay murders are crimes of passion or opportunity.
Lewis knows it’s a dangerous environment for gays and lesbians, but he’s staying.
“I know that we all can’t leave,” he said. “Somebody has to stay and fight the fight.”
The animosity toward gays in Jamaica is deeply-rooted in the country’s Christian traditions. People often equate homosexuals with pedophiles and other sexual predators.