Selena Blake takes on

FROM HER home in New York City, Selena Blake keeps up to date with events in her native Jamaica. She is aware of the music scene and perennial crime, but chose to focus on an embattled minority for Taboo … Gay and Lesbian Yardies: The Voices of Those Who Dare to Speak, her second documentary.
Blake, 45, said she decided to take on the sensitive subject of Jamaican aggression toward gays last year. At a fund-raising event in New York City for Taboo last week, she said patrons were concerned that violence against homosexuals was still rampant in Jamaica.
“I was speaking to someone who told me that Elton John has completely boycotted Jamaica because of this, and it’s not just him. Several prominent folks have decided not to do stuff in Jamaica,” Blake told The Gleaner.

Production cost
Blake plans to gather an eclectic ‘cast’ for Taboo which she says will cost US$250,000 to produce. She is planning to interview persons from ‘across the board’ in Miami, Canada, England and Jamaica.
To date, Blake has spoken to members of the Caribbean gay community in New York City including Jamaican activist Staceyann Chin and Christine Quinn, the openly gay speaker of the New York City Council.

“This documentary is not just about gays, it’s about Jamaica,” Blake pointed out. “I want to show that we are not monsters, we are not all homophobic.”
Taboo follows on the heels of Queensbridge: The Other Side, Blake’s revealing documentary about the Long Island housing project, which got strong reviews from noted publications like the New York Times. She went public with Taboo at a time when Jamaican indifference to gays is once again on the radar. documentary.

this should be interesting to see, we wait with great anticipation – Admin

Jamaica government has no plan to repeal buggery law (Flashback)

“We find the approach of this organisation unacceptably insensitive,”
Information Minister Burchell Whiteman said in a statement issued to the media yesterday. (Wednesday November 17, 2004)

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He added: “To link the homophobia issue to the response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic is inappropriate. The Government of Jamaica, through various ministries and agencies, has taken measures to arrest the HIV/AIDS epidemic.”

Government yesterday dismissed claims by the international body, Human Rights Watch, that the authorities have been soft on police abuses on homosexual males and persons affected by HIV/AIDS. “We find the approach of this organisation unacceptably insensitive,” Information Minister Burchell Whiteman said in a statement issued to the media yesterday. “We also as the duly elected representatives of the people feel that it is the people who must set our agenda in respect of the legislation which we pass or the repeal of any existing laws. We are certainly not about to respond to any organisation, external to this country, which may want to dictate to us how and when to deal with the laws of our land,” said Senator Whiteman. He added: “To link the homophobia issue to the response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic is inappropriate.

The Government of Jamaica, through various ministries and agencies, has taken measures to arrest the HIV/AIDS epidemic.” The findings of the Human Rights Watch Report were released to the public during a launch at the Courtleigh Hotel in New Kingston on Tuesday. The report accused both the Government and the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) of turning a blind eye to what they claim is a “rampant abuse of homosexual males and persons living with HIV/AIDS.” The international body also criticised the Government’s stance on legislation (the buggery law) on homosexuality, which they say is a ‘discriminatory legislation’. Speaking in support of the sentiments expressed by the human rights group, Delroy Chuck, Opposition spokesman on Justice said, “I find homosexual behaviour quite reprehensible but I believe it is a moral issue and not one that should be prohibited by the legislature.” Some clergymen, however, fiercely defended the law and insisted that it should be upheld. Rev. Courtney Richards, of the Missionary Church Association, pointed out that Human Rights Watch was mixing up the issues. “It is not the law itself that is the problem.

They are making a leap here. I see no reason to change the law, it is to be upheld,” he said. DISCRIMINATION Turning to the charge of discrimination against persons affected by HIV/AIDS in the church, Rev. Phillip Robinson, president of the Jamaica Council of Churches, said, “they need to substantiate it. They have not given us the facts and the grounds in which they have made the allegations.” In a quick response to allegations made against members of the police force that they were derelict in their duties and turning a blind eye to documented cases of physical and verbal abuse of HIV positive persons, Superintendent Ionie Ramsey, head of the Constabulary Communication Network (CCN), said that the police High Command had ordered a probe into the allegations.

Let us retrace our steps people – Admin

Medico-socio-economics vs morality

by Garth Rattray

The proposal to legalise or decriminalize prostitution was a scientific and pragmatic one. It was meant to protect everyone in society. People involved in renting themselves out for sex would be free to come under proper medical supervision and monitoring in their capacity as commercial sex workers. As things stand, such people operate outside the law and therefore go underground. This situation lends itself to abuse, human trafficking and the propagation of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) – some of which are potentially deadly.

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A fairy balanced article

A recently publicised idea went one step further by recommending not only the regulation but also the taxation of commercial sex workers. It sought to raise funds from the ‘profession’ in order to benefit those involved in it and to protect society from a breeding place for STIs. Bringing prostitution under governmental regulation and taxation currently takes place in several countries around the world, including parts of the United States of America.

Approved brothels

In such instances, governing bodies prohibit prostitution outside of licensed brothels. They also legislate against encouraging people into prostitution and against pimping. Approved brothels are checked regularly for STIs (especially HIV infection). Condoms are mandated for all intimate sexual acts and the brothels may be liable if a ‘customer’ or sex worker becomes HIV positive.

Our well-meaning scientific thinkers are trying to help society to help itself by separating science from established mores. Medico-socially and socio-economically, the reasoning behind the legalisation or decriminalisation proposals is sound. However, serious conflicts arise when they are viewed from our moral perspective. Morality is not universally standardised; it varies from one region to another. Different societies have differing morals. For example, several European countries and some of the United States allow the sanctioning of same-sex unions by ‘marriage’. We here in Jamaica consider such an act as an abomination.

I surmised that the revolutionary idea of legitimising and ‘sanitising’ commercial sex work was doomed to remain a moot subject and, Prime Minister Golding (naturally and predictably) shot it down before it could even begin to take wings. Topics like buggery and prostitution are going to remain taboo for many years to come because, in spite of our rampant criminal acts, propensity for violence and corrupt practices, we are mostly a religious people. We would rather keep such topics in the shadows than deal with them impartially and openly.

Desperate, destitute addicts

Ostensibly, because payment for sexual ‘favours’ customarily takes place between consenting adults, one of our columnists recently labelled prostitution a ‘victimless crime’. Many people believe that prostitutes are simply immoral and shameless. And, a famous politician pontificated that legitimising prostitution would encourage a number of young girls to add the oldest profession in the world to their list of plausible careers. But, this is far from the truth. No one aspires to become a commercial sex worker. People in the profession are either desperate, destitute, addicted to illicit drugs or were abused as children.

It seems obvious to me, therefore, that all commercial sex workers are victims of something. And, the truly sad part is that, in order to survive, they have to subjugate themselves as mere playthings by which someone satisfies his or her base sexual desires. And so, the victimisation never ends.

Instead of trying to reform the system, advocates of legitimised prostitution could, perhaps, consider reforming the commercial sex workers by agitating for the provision of funds to educate and equip those unfortunate souls in such a way that they can fend for themselves in a viable and dignified manner.

Dr Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice; email – garthrattray@gmail.com