Selena Blake looks at Jamaican homophobia with ‘Taboo: Yardies.’

Writer, producer and director Selena Blake interviews gay and straight Jamaicans about the island nation’s treatment of homosexuals in her documentary, tentatively titled ‘Taboo: Yardies.’
Any doubts about how deeply homophobia is ingrained in Jamaica, West Indies, culture were put to rest in May when Prime Minister Bruce Golding told the British Broadcasting Channel that there were no homosexuals in his cabinet and none would be allowed to serve.
Click Selena’s image for more on this story by the NY Daily News.

Are Gay Men Here Lesbophobes?

Hmmm, in a recent discussion I was involved in I expressed my thought that it’s time gay men and lesbians in Jamaica come together ideologically and work towards understanding each other. I agree that both sectors of the LGBT community have their share of issues and idiosyncrasies but why for example our lesbian sisters just want to be by themselves?
Even at our bi weekly Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual Community (GLABCOM) meetings in Kingston and reportedly at the other three chapters it is evident that the ladies are not interested or so it seems, as the meetings are predominantly attended by men.
Gay men here have been accused of being too overbearing and intolerant of lesbian views and issues and that we (men) don’t listen, many lesbians have expressed displeasure at these meetings where the males tend to out speak the them while they are trying to make a point, even at the local level socially, at regular parties the difference is clear, save and except for some gatherings.
My lesbian counterpart in the discussion said many lesbians are expressing their displeasure at the behaviour of some of our brothas and rightly so, but to then criticise the effeminacy or “realness” is just too much for me as some gay men are just that, REAL and cannot express themselves no other way.
However on the matter of my brothas being overbearing, in all fairness that’s true to a certain extent and I have heard gay men also expressing their dislike for associating with lesbians.
What is this? Lesbophobia, we nuh like dem, dem nuh like we? eh eh,
(english: we don’t like them, they don’t like us? wow).
Is it a lack of understanding of each other’s lifestyles or are we so busy being “Gay” in our own gender box that everything else seems irrelevant?
Another strange observation I have found is that many gay men like myself seem to have more “straight” female friends than lesbian ones and the reverse is true of lesbians in the Jamaican context.
For example a so called thug/shotta (male) will hang with a “butch” female and take her as one of the boys as opposed to socializing with an effeminate male, we see it publicly, lesbian females dressed in men’s baggy jeans and smoking weed and being all “thuggy” on the corner and very few oppose it.
Strange bed-fellows in our so called homophobic environment. Personally I have many lesbian friends and in fact many of my gay brothas wonder how come I get along so easily with lesbians.
How can we begin to build the bridge between us and how can we sustain it?.
What do you think?
Howie seh so

Should AIDS Remain a Global Emergency?

A new study examines whether HIV/AIDS should still be considered a global crisis in the age of antiretroviral medications, IRIN/PlusNews reports (, 7/18). Published in the June 2008 issue of Population and Development Review, the study asserts that HIV incidence worldwide has peaked.

According to lead author John Bongaarts, the study—called “Has the HIV Epidemic Peaked?”—shows that although HIV/AIDS constitutes just 5 percent of disease prevalence in low- and middle-income countries, the epidemic receives about a quarter of global health aid. According to the article, Bongaarts says that HIV/AIDS funding would be better spent on inexpensive interventions to fight other diseases with immunizations, mosquito nets and family planning.

“AIDS should now be treated like any other disease, and the world community should look at its investments in health and prepare the most cost-effective interventions,” said Bongaarts. “I’m not advocating less money for AIDS treatment, but I want more spent on AIDS prevention and other diseases. We can save lives for a few dollars.”

Homophobia in Africa Deters HIV Education

AIDS activists warned at a meeting in Cameroon that violence against gay people in Africa jeopardizes efforts to combat HIV across all demographics, IRIN reports ( 7/23).

Thirty-eight of the 53 African nations still consider homosexuality an offence deserving imprisonment. It is estimated that HIV infections are four to five times higher for men who have sex with men (MSM) than the population overall.

Dr. Steave Nemande, the president of the human rights organization Alternatives Cameroun, believes that by criminalizing homosexuality “social homophobia is legitimized and it increases fear among MSM, who take further risks to live their sexual life in secret.”

‘Jamaican men are poppy shows’

UWI lecturer says males are pursuing wrong priorities
published: Thursday July 24, 2008
Athaliah Reynolds, Staff Reporter

Declaring that Jamaican men are in trouble, Father’s Inc chairman and university lecturer, Dr Herbert Gayle, says the country needs to readjust how males and females are socialised if it is to be saved from its downward drift.

Gayle, who is a lecturer in the Department of Sociology, Psychology and Social Work at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, yesterday said Jamaican men were destroying themselves.


Gay asylum seekers to be discussed at Lib Dem conference

Rights for LGBT asylum seekers will be one of the primary focuses at the Lib Dem conference to be held in Bournemouth in September.
The DELGA, the Lib Dem gay group, is calling for equal rights for the LGBT community.
It put forward the motion to discuss the state of LGBT asylum seekers facing deportation from the UK.

They plan to argue the idea that LGBT asylum seekers can be deported on the grounds they act on their sexuality “discreetly” at home is “an inappropriate message for a the British government to send in the 21st century.”
DELGA secretary Drian Trett said the motion “was on the preliminary list for the conference.”
While the motion is not set in stone, its hoped that it will be discussed in detail the Lib Dem conference.
Mr Trett said the DELGA would be campaigning for better protection of LGBT asylum seekers in the UK.
Rights for gay asylum seekers was an issue at London’s Pride march last month.
Harriet Harman, Labour’s Deputy Leader and Minister for Equality, was booed by the Pride crowd while delivering her speech.
Some Pride London marchers felt the Labour government was exposing LGBT asylum seekers to possible torture, imprisonment and execution by deporting them from Britain

Human rights groups lash PM

LOCAL human rights groups are taking Prime Minister Bruce Golding to task over a recommendation he made in Parliament on Tuesday, to allow for majority verdicts to decide cases of non-capital murder.

The Independent Jamaica Council of Human Rights (IJCHR), in a press release yesterday, said the categories of capital and non-capital murder were abolished in 2005 following amendments to the Offences Against the Person Act.

“The [IJCHR] is perplexed by this proposal. the circumstances that defined the former categories of capital and non-capital murder are now only considered after conviction, during the sentence hearing, and then only by the trial judge. Therefore, a majority verdict is impossible,” the release said.

GOMES… says her organisation is trying to determine whether the prime minister’s suggested reform is applicable
Similar sentiments were expressed by chairman of Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ), Dr Carolyn Gomes, who said her organisation was trying to determine whether the prime minister’s suggested reform was applicable.

“We don’t have a full position on that and there may be some problems with it because, as we understand, the law was altered to remove the distinction. It is supposed to be applicable when a person is charged and the verdict is arrived at, then the judge pronounces sentence on the basis of his assessment of the evidence. So we need to study that some more to see whether it is workable, and if it is workable, then whether or not we are in support of it,” the JFJ chairman said.

On Tuesday, Golding announced in Parliament several new measures to be implemented by the Government to tackle the nation’s soaring crime rate, including provisions for a majority of nine jurors out of 12 to decide on non-capital murders.

Golding also announced that criminal suspects could be detained for up to 72 hours without being charged, and that persons arrested and charged for serious crimes could be denied bail for up to 60 days. Both measures, however, drew the ire of the IJCHR.

“The council continues to reject the proposal for the detention of a person for any period without due regard to the provisions of the Constitution – particularly those in section 15(3), including the right to a trial within a reasonable period of time or to release.

“.The imposition of a mandatory remand undermines the constitutional provision of the presumption of innocence and the discretion of the judges, it mandates a judge to ‘sentence’ a person to 60 days imprisonment, without a trial or proof of wrongdoing – in breach of several rights guaranteed by the constitution,” the release said.

Gomes said, however, that the JFJ was ‘palpably relieved’ at the rule allowing for detention for up to 72 hours.
“We don’t have any objection to that; we are very relieved that it is not the suggested 28 days without charge. We are quite happy with the oversight of assistant commissioner (to authorise the detention), we would hope that this would mean that we would now get the police to actually follow the rules,” Gomes said.

She, however, said the JFJ had not yet taken a position on the 60-day period for detention without bail.

The IJCHR also described as breaching the constitutional mandate against mandatory imprisonment, the Government’s decision to impose a minimum mandatory imprisonment period of 10 years for persons on gun-related crimes.

Both Gomes and the IJCHR were in support of the use of DNA evidence, but said this depended largely on how the evidence was gathered
and safeguarded.

Reactive – Human rights group says legislation won’t guarantee catching criminals

But McCalla Sobers said she felt more comfortable with the Government’s proposal to detain criminal suspects for 72 hours instead of the 28 days that was being considered.
However, she wants to know whether the Government would prescribe penalties for police personnel who breach a detainee’s rights.

Click Text above/below or post title for full article

Prime Minister Bruce Golding outlining the new crime-fighting measures in the House of Representatives yesterday.
PRIME Minister Bruce Golding yesterday promised tough new legislative measures to reduce crime, including a minimum 10-year sentence for gun crimes.




The Prime Minister may be reached at the following numbers during the programme:

960-7739, 960-9853, 968-2019, 926-7527.
JAMAICA TOLL FREE: 1-888-991-7785

A link to Jamaicans in the Diaspora is being facilitated by the Jamaica National Building Society.
The numbers from the United Kingdom are 207-708-6670 and 207-708-6672.
The numbers from the United States and Canada are 954-535-5761 and 305-597-7940 and 1-888-532-1754 respectively.