Interesting Piece – Homophobic Yet Homosocial ?

Some Jamaican brethren love to run off mouth about how dem love woman and brag ’bout dem nuh pet man. Yes, big man, start counting the number of activities that you participate in, exclusively with other ‘man friends’. Calculate the amount of time you spend with members of your own sex.

Now, compare that with your quality engagement and time spent with the opposite sex. I’ll bet all the money I lost in Cash Plus that when the situations are objectively compared, many men will find that they spend more time and energy dedicated to activities with other men than with women. Isn’t that funny? But, as I’m never tired of saying, we are a case study in contradiction. Is true, man! Many Jamaican men seem to be violently homophobic, yet passionately ‘homosocial’ at the same time. Check it, dem burn fire on men who sleep with men but di only company dat dem keep is men.

Some roughneck, macho men seem totally happy to spend 20 hours of one day socialising with a bag a man and then share the remaining four hours with a woman. And, those four hours are likely to involve maybe 15 minutes of talk, 45 minutes of sex and three hours of sleep. In fact, one man made it clear to me that, as far as he’s concerned, the main thing to do with the opposite sex was sex.

Strip poker
When asked if he talks or plays with his lady, he said he hardly talks, he mainly sends text messages. Quoting an old joke, he said the only game he plays with his girlfriend is strip poker, with the aim being for her to strip and for him to ‘poke her’. He went on to seriously assert that men, who spend a lot of time with women, are sissies. What do you think?

I think it’s kind of sad. Plenty men just don’t treat social, emotional or intellectual engagement with women as a central part of their life. It’s like they marginalise their dealings with women to the extent that any relationship with a woman that doesn’t involve sex, gets minimal time, limited space and zero value. And, the women, with whom we share conjugal relations, sometimes only get personal attention when it’s time for them to ease our sexual tension.

Potential conquest
You know, there are men, who have no genuine women friends? You realise that there are men out there, who can only see women as objects of potential conquest? And, some of those same men love and idolise other men, who they describe as their ‘God, dads and general’!

Some men work all day with men, spend evening chilling and talking with other men, then spend the weekend playing with men again. They eat and drink with men, ‘par and link’ with men, then smoke and joke with men again. That’s how I see it yah and I don’t care who vex. Some men do every single thing with other men – except sex – and the one deggeh-deggeh thing dem do with women is sex.

But, guess what happen in the process? We miss out on opportunities to learn, grow and build mutual respect with our sisters. Look nuh, I love sex, I adore women and I value the many things I can share with them. Yeah, man, that’s one of the reasons why I’m a big fan of co-education. If it does nothing else, mixed-sex schooling helps boys to learn, from early, that there are many fulfilling experiences to share with girls, including, but not limited to sex!

How you see it? box-mi-back@hotmail.com

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Amnesty International Public Statement on Hanging in Jamaica

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PRESS RELEASE

26 November 2008

Jamaica: More executions will not reduce crime

Jamaica’s crime epidemic must be solved with reforms to the police and the justice system, not with more death, said Amnesty International after the Jamaican House of Representatives voted a motion to retain the death penalty.

“Supporting the death penalty to tackle Jamaica’s spiralling violence and crime is like trying to put out a fire with petrol,” said Kerrie Howard, Americas Deputy Director at Amnesty International. “In order to put that fire out, its root causes need to be tackled.”

Amnesty International called on the Jamaican government to prioritize policy changes to reduce crime and convert these changes into effective action. These include implementing recommendations from the strategic review of the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Justice Sector Reform Review and expediting the passage of legislation to establish an independent commission to investigate police abuses and an Office of Coroner to examine alleged police killings.

“We all agree that crime is an issue that must urgently be addressed. However, executions offer only an illusion of effective action being taken and do nothing to lessen suffering in Jamaican society,” said Kerrie Howard.

Notes to Editors
The vote emerged in the light of discussions around the new Charter of Rights and Freedoms Bill, which seeks to replace Chapter III of the Jamaican Constitution dedicated to the protection of fundamental rights and freedom of persons. The purpose of the vote was to decide whether provisions allowing for the death penalty as an exception to the right to life, should be retained or deleted from the Charter.

Following the vote at the House of Representatives, the Senate will also shortly debate and vote the motion.

The last execution in Jamaica was carried out on 18 February 1988. There were more than 190 prisoners under sentence of death at the end of 1988. Currently there are nine prisoners on death row. This reduction is principally attributable to three events:
In 1992 the Jamaican Parliament amended the Offences Against the Person Act to classify some murders as non-capital. The amendment applied retroactively and resulted in the commutation of sentences to life imprisonment of a number people who had previously been mandatorily sentenced to death.
In 1993 the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (currently Jamaica’s highest court which sits in England) decided, in the case of Pratt and Morgan v. the Attorney General of Jamaica, that executing a person who has spent a prolonged period on death row violates Section 17 of the Constitution of Jamaica, which prohibits “inhuman or degrading punishment or other treatment”.
In compliance with the guidance set out in this case, death sentences of people who have served five years on death row in Jamaica are commuted to life imprisonment. As a result of the 2004 decision of the JCPC in Lambert Watson v The Attorney General of Jamaica, mandatory death sentences are no longer allowed in Jamaica. Following this decision, new sentencing hearings were held and many death row prisoners had their sentences commuted.

Jamaica, along with the rest of the English-speaking Caribbean nations, voted against a global moratorium on the death penalty at the 62nd UN General Assembly in December 2007.

The world is turning away from the use of death penalty. Since 2003, the United States has been the only country in the Americas to carry out executions and has dramatically decreased in the number of executions in recent years. 137 countries have now abolished the death penalty in law or practice and only 24 nations carried out executions in 2007. Huge swathes of the world are now free from executions.

END/

Public Document
****************************************
For more information please call Amnesty International’s press office in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566 or email: press@amnesty.org
International Secretariat, Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW, UK
http://www.amnesty.org/

What foolishness


EU should take criminals, gays

Dear Editor,

Your editorial on November 24 said, inter alia:

“…In fact, though, our parliamentarians would do well to pay close attention to opinion not just locally but internationally. For example, the European Union (EU) – to which countries like Jamaica and its Caribbean neighbours and Caricom partners are closely connected through aid, trade, history and a huge diaspora – have long made its opposition to the death penalty abundantly clear…”

This is plain bullying by the EU. If they are so concerned for these criminals, they should offer to take them from Jamaica and let them serve the punishments for their crime that is in accordance with human rights as practised in the EU. This would be putting action to their words!

The same goes for gays – take them in the EU where they would freely practise their chosen lifestyle and enjoy full “human rights”.

Remember, the Europeans led by Britain violated human rights by the institution of slavery for 430 years, because it suited their objective and development at the time.

Jamaica needs to send a message that for the time being in a religious country, as Jamaica is often described, Moses’ law is necessary and any good that will arise from it.
Development is being sidetracked because of criminality and fear, and by the way, suppresses human rights!

Norman R Lee
20 Calm Waters Crescent
Brampton, Ontario L6V 4R9
Canada
namronlee@rogers.com

New poster seeks to boost awareness about HIV/AIDS

THE Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL), in its effort to boost awareness of the increased risk women face in contracting HIV, yesterday launched its seventh annual anti-stigma calendar and poster.

The 2009 calendar and poster features Olympian Melaine Walker, her mother and grandmother; Olympian Kerron Stewart and her mother; Olympian Aleen Bailey; Miss Jamaica World Brittany Lyons and her mother, Mary Claire Lyons, and her grandmother; Special Olympian Esther Pair and other influential women in the Jamaican society.

“We chose this year to feature women, their daughters and granddaughters because we know that HIV respects no generation and that women are at enormous risk,” Christine English, head of the calendar team said during the launch at the JASL office in Kingston. “We have incorporated the Olympic theme in celebration of our women who have done so well and we have used the verses from the Bible: “The race is not for the swift, but for those who endure to the end.”
Miriam Maluwa, UNAIDS country representative for Jamaica, The Bahamas and Belize, explained that women and girls were twice as likely to acquire HIV from an infected partner during unprotected intercourse.

“In the context of HIV, women face double jeopardy because the epidemiological data shows that half of all persons living with HIV are women. Also there are about 14 million women and girls living with HIV,” she said. “In the Caribbean, we know that there are about 92,000 women living with HIV.”

She said the links between HIV and gender equality have increased vulnerability to infection among women.
She added that cultural and social norms often restricted women from very basic information related to sexual and reproductive issues.

At the same time, Andrea Chin-See, JASL board member, said the rates of infection were highest among girls between mid-teen and early to mid-20s. Additionally, she said unequal sexual relationships make it harder for our women to negotiate condom use.

“For us here at JASL, and I dare say for all those in any kind of HIV planning, the now popular Jamaica phrase ‘is woman time now’ takes on a whole new and different meaning,” she said.

Data from the health ministry also indicates that 134 women were diagnosed with HIV/AIDS between January and June last year, while 63 women died during the same period last year.

Calls to ban Dominica’s buggery laws

One of worlds leading health practitioners is supporting calls to ban Dominica’s buggery laws.Dr Carissa Etienne Assistant Director General of the World Health Organization said buggery laws are preventing homosexuals from accessing care and counseling. Dr Etienne said the laws regarding homosexuals are clear that anyone found guilty of that practice will be criminalized.

She said “two consenting adults in their bedrooms if they have sexual relations they can be brought to court and this law mitigates against these people seeking care and counseling and this is a barrier. That is a problem not only for them but because they must hide they take the infection into the heterosexual community”.

The prominent doctor explained further that this poses a risk for the other community. ‘I think that we gain nothing by keeping our laws on the book that makes it a crime for homosexuality”.Dr Etienne said while she is not supporting the act of homosexuality but according to her, the current law is not being enforced and has no meaning hence it should be repealed.

“This act will occur whether we have the law or not but what the law is doing is preventing these people from coming for counseling and testing”.Dominica’s Health Minister John Fabien came under intense pressure recently when he told a meeting in Jamaica recently that he would attempt to influence the Roosevelt Skerrit Cabinet to ban the country’s buggery laws.
Visit this paper’s site and sound off: HERE

Burundi: Government Moves to Criminalize Homosexuality; Activist Groups Express Outrage

For Immediate Release, November 24, 2008

Media Contact: Hossein Alizadeh, 212-430-6016, halizadeh@iglhrc.org

(New York, November 24, 2008) – In an unexpected move, the National Assembly of Burundi passed a law on Friday November 21, 2008, making same-sex acts punishable by between 3 months and two years in prison, along with a substantial fine. The following day, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and the Association pour le Respect et les Droits des Homosexuels (ARDO) issued strongly worded letters to the entire membership of Burundi’s Senate, asking them to vote against the legislation, which would criminalize homosexuality for the first time in the history of the country. The Senate may vote on the bill as early as tomorrow and if it passes Burundian President Nkurunziza will likely sign it into law.

IGLHRC and ARDO also wrote to President Nkurunziza, asking him to veto the legislation should it be presented to him for his signature. Both groups encourage others to contact Burundian authorities to protest the measure.
“Imprisoning people simply because of who they love offends every principle of human rights practice, which is to ensure dignity and respect for all people,” said Paula Ettelbrick, IGLHRC’s executive director. “This is less about sexuality and more about the visibility of a growing community of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Africa refusing to be treated as dirt. These laws are meant to silence and terrorize our community and must be stopped.”

Burundi—a small country in the Great Lakes region of Eastern Africa bordered by Rwanda to the north, Tanzania to the south and east, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the west—has been locked in an ethnically-based conflict for much of its post-independence history. A negotiated peace settlement, brokered with the assistance of a number of African states, has led to the installation of a multi-party government. The last few years have seen a certain level of reconstruction in the country, increased stability and the emergence of a nascent civil society.
The government of Burundi’s latest move comes in the context of considerable hostility to homosexuality in the region; two-thirds of African nations maintain criminal penalties for consensual same-sex behavior. In recent years several countries, including Nigeria and Uganda, have threatened to strengthen laws against homosexuality. New criminal codes in Zimbabwe broaden the definition of sodomy to include “any act that involves physical contact… that would be regarded by a reasonable person to be an indecent act.” Several nations, including Burundi, have enacted legislation criminalizing same-sex marriage, though little or no advocacy to promote such marriages has taken place. These laws appear to be emerging in response to an increasingly visible, outspoken, and organized sexual rights movement.
The United Nations has condemned laws that criminalize homosexuality as being violations of the rights to privacy and equality and has called upon member states that maintain such laws to review them. Members of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights have condemned physical attacks on and the imprisonment of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

International and local human rights defenders have expressed grave concern not only about the nature of the current legislation in Burundi, but also about the way in which it has been promulgated. “The government has moved this bill quickly and unjustly through the legislative process,” said a representative of ARDO. “The whole process has happened over the course of a weekend, with no input from civil society or general discussion about the issue of homosexuality and freedom of expression within Burundi.”

If the current legislation passes, it is likely that the country’s HIV prevention efforts will suffer. Burundi has made commendable efforts to fight HIV and AIDS during the last decade. But IGLHRC’s 2007 report on HIV and AIDS in Africa, Off the Map, demonstrates how laws that criminalize homosexuality drive communities underground, making men who have sex with men less able to access HIV-related prevention information. UNAIDS, the Global Fund and other key international institutions concur.

An action alert related to this issue will be posted on IGLHRC’s website on November 25, 2008. For an update on the status of the legislation in Burundi, or to take action, visit: http://www.iglhrc.org/.

The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) is a leading human rights organization solely devoted to improving the rights of people around the world who are targeted for imprisonment, abuse or death because of their sexuality, gender identity or HIV/AIDS status. IGLHRC addresses human rights violations by partnering with and supporting activists in countries around the world, monitoring and documenting human rights abuses, engaging offending governments, and educating international human rights officials. A non-profit, non-governmental organization, IGLHRC is based in New York, with offices in Cape Town and Buenos Aires. Visit http://www.iglhrc.org for more information

email: executive_director@iglhrc.org
phone: 212-268-8040
web: http://www.iglhrc.org/

The Mission of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission is to secure the full enjoyment of human rights of all people and communities subject to discrimination or abuse on the basis of sexual orientation or expression, gender identity or expression and/or HIV status.

Human Rights Day 2008

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) turns 60 on 10 December 2008. On Human Rights Day 2007, the United Nations Secretary General launched a year-long UN system-wide advocacy campaign to mark this important milestone. The initiative celebrates the Declaration and the promise that has made this document so enduring: “Dignity and justice for all of us”.

The campaign aims to increase knowledge and awareness of human rights among the largest number of rights holders so that they can claim and enjoy their rights. Many governments, civil society, educational, cultural and human rights institutions have taken the opportunity during 2008 to reaffirm their commitment to the values and principles of the UDHR and to disseminate information about the Declaration.
As part of the commemorative year, the High Commissioner for Human Rights proposes that the week of 6 – 12 October 2008 be designated as “Dignity and Justice for Detainees Week”. OHCHR calls on all partners to pay special attention to the civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights of persons deprived of their liberty in prisons and other places of detention.
A number of public information documents, including a special logo, more than 360 translations of the UDHR, photographs and background information as well as a list of ideas for activities, are at your disposal to help you commemorate this anniversary. All documents are downloadable and printable for your convenience. They may be helpful in any event you may be preparing.
Visit this page frequently for updates.
Please bear in mind that we here JFLAG also will celebrate our tenth anniversary on the same date.
Peace

Steve L Remembered

Born February 9, 1978, transitioned peacefully on November 6th 2008

By George Lee, a member of JFLAG NING LINKUP Group

I’m Still Here

Family and Friends please don’t mourn for me
I’m still here, though you don’t see.
I’m right by your side each night and day
And within your heart I long to stay.

My body is gone but I’m always near.
I’m everything you feel, see or hear.
My spirit is free, but I’ll never depart
As long as you keep me alive in your heart.

I’ll never wander out of your sight-
I’m the brightest star on a summer night.
I’ll never be beyond your reach-
I’m the warm moist sand when you’re at the beach.

I’m the first bright blossom you’ll see in the spring,
The first warm raindrop that April will bring.
I’m the first ray of light when the sun starts to shine,
And you’ll see that the face in the moon is mine.

When you start thinking there’s no one to love you,
You can talk to me through the Lord above you.
I’ll whisper my answer through the leaves on the trees,
And you’ll feel my presence in the soft summer breeze.

I’m the hot salty tears that flow when you weep
And the beautiful dreams that come while you sleep.
I’m the smile you see on a baby’s face.
Just look for me, friend, I’m every place!

-end-
(please do not repost or re-use without credit to the author)

Waite’s anti-gay populist nonsense!

Basil Waite, in a not untypical fashion, spouted a lot of heat in the Senate the other day. But the shadow education minister didn’t generate much, if any, light. At least, not light focused on the substantive issue of the debate: The state of the Jamaican family and the proposal by Warren Newby for a commission to study the issue.

However, reflecting on the state and nature of the Jamaican family, its evolution and seemingly deepening dysfunction is a deep, complex and weighty matter that demands serious thought. And thinking is hard work.

We are not surprised, therefore, that Mr Waite, as is so often the case in Jamaica, chose to pander to the populist and the popular. So, rather than dealing with the substantive issue, he, by and large, went gay bashing.

Worse, Basil Waite, whom we believe has aspirations to the leadership of the People’s National Party didn’t start from the basis of fact. He instead set up his own, fluffy, weightless figures, then knocked them over.

Agitating for recognition

Mr Waite’s spurious assumption is that if Mr Newby’s contemplated commission didn’t clearly define what comprised a Jamaican family – presumably with great urgency – then it won’t “be long before we have some of those same groups (homosexuals) agitating for recognition as a family. So, we need to prevent that … ” he said.

Basil Waite, in this regard, serves as metaphor for a political class whose failure at leadership makes it malleable to a fundamentalist construct of the world, which it believes provides the route of least resistance to high office. In that regard, it is easy to buy into a bigotry that is so rampant in Jamaica, no matter how backward and regardless of the consequence. Indeed, it is this acquiescence to the loud, the callow and biblical literalists that informed Prime Minister Golding’s “not in my Cabinet” declaration against homosexuals, rather than a rational, sophisticated response befitting of a modern, tolerant society.

In today’s world, it is only the most backward, unsure, hypocritical or opportunistic leader who would presume to legislate the nature of people’s relationships, or would want to send the state on a voyeuristic expedition into people’s bedrooms. So, neither Mr Golding’s hubris in that BBC television interview nor Mr Waite’s barely disguised Old Testament harrumphing about gays campaigning “for specific rights” is of specific social or economic value to Jamaica.

The most extreme of harassment

It is more likely to be detrimental, serving to institutionalise the notion of the otherness of people with whose lifestyles we do not agree and fair game for the most extreme of harassment, including the usurpation of their fundamental rights, with little protection from the State. It is small wonder that two men murdered last week were killed because they were deemed to be gay.

Jamaica does not have the luxury of building a cocoon around itself and operating in splendid isolation from the rest of the world. Gays operate in all walks of life, in finance, commerce, industry and government around the world. And, who is to say who is gay in Jamaica’s government structure?

In that regard, it is nonsense, if Mr Waite would care to think about it, to maintain archaic laws against homosexuality.

What, after all, is the fear? It is not as if people become gay by contagion

Amnesty International Public Statement on Hanging in Jamaica

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC STATEMENT
AI Index No: AMR 38/005/2008 19 November 2008

Jamaica: A return to hanging will not solve public security crisis

As Jamaican Parliamentarians are due to vote shortly a motion on whether to retain the death penalty, Amnesty International calls on the Jamaica authorities to reject the death penalty and instead prioritize reforms to the police and justice system in order to tackle the country’s violent crime epidemic.

The vote has emerged in the light of discussion around the new Charter of Rights and Freedoms Bill, which seeks to replace Chapter III of the Jamaican Constitution dedicated to the protection of fundamental rights and freedom of persons. The purpose of the vote is to decide whether provisions creating the death sentence exceptions to the right to life and to protection from torture or inhuman or degrading punishment or other treatment, should be retained or deleted from the Charter. This vote also comes at a time of spiralling violent crime in a country with one of the highest per capita murder rates in the world.

Amnesty International understands that high levels of criminality create victim after victim and welcomes the Jamaican government’s commitment to addressing violent crime. However, the organization strongly believes that the use of the death penalty, as well as constituting a cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, is not an effective method of preventing crime.

Given the unlikelihood of ever being brought before the courts, it is highly implausible that before committing a crime a criminal would consider the risk of being hung and would refrain from wrong-doing. On the contrary, the retention of the death penalty spreads across the society the message that killing is permitted. The death penalty also runs the risk of irrevocable error. Country after country, including Jamaica, has inflicted the death penalty upon those innocent of the crime for which they were condemned. Numerous studies have also shown that it tends to be applied discriminatorily on grounds of race and class. In a country like Jamaica, where the criminal justice system is deeply flawed and corruption is rife throughout different institutions, how can the public have confidence that the state will not kill innocent people?

Amnesty International believes that the true solution to the appalling crime situation does not lie with the death penalty. The answers can be found instead be prioritizing reforms to the police and justice system that are already under way. These include implementing recommendations from the strategic review of the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Justice Sector Reform Review and expediting the passage of legislation to establish an independent commission to investigate police abuses and an Office of Coroner to examine alleged police killings.

The world is turning away from the use of death penalty. Since 2003, the United States has been the only country in the Americas to carry out executions and a dramatic decrease in the number of executions there has taken place in recent years. One hundred and thirty seven have now abolished the death penalty in law or practice and only 24 nations carried out executions in 2007. Huge swathes of the world are now free from executions.

As we approach the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Amnesty International calls on Jamaica to join the international trend that executions serve no useful purpose and have a brutalising effect upon any society that uses them. Jamaica’s decision-makers urgently need to de-politicise the issue of capital punishment and take concrete steps to conceive and implement effective measures to decrease the alarming levels of violent crime. The death penalty is a symptom of a culture of violence, not a solution to it.

Background The last execution in Jamaica was carried out on 18 February 1988. There were more than a 190 prisoners under sentence of death at the end of 1988. Currently there are nine prisoners on death row. The reduction is principally attributable to three events. In 1992 the Jamaican Parliament amended the Offences Against the Person Act to classify some murders as non-capital. The amendment applied retroactively and resulted in the commutation of sentences to life imprisonment of a number people who had been previously mandatorily sentenced to death. In 1993 the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (currently Jamaica’s highest court which sits in England) decided, in the case of Pratt and Morgan v. the Attorney General of Jamaica, that executing a person who has spent a prolonged period on death row violates Section 17 of the Constitution of Jamaica, which prohibits “inhuman or degrading punishment or other treatment”. In compliance with the guidance set out in this case, sentences of death of people who have served five years on death row in Jamaica are commuted to life imprisonment. As a result of the 2004 decision of the JCPC in Lambert Watson v The Attorney General of Jamaica, mandatory sentences of death are no longer allowed in Jamaica. Following this decision, new sentencing hearings were held and many death row prisoners had their sentences commuted.

Jamaica, along with the rest of the English-speaking Caribbean nations, voted against a global moratorium on the death penalty at the 62nd UN General Assembly in December 2007.

END/

Public Document **************************************** For more information please call Amnesty International’s press office in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566 or email: press@amnesty.org

International Secretariat, Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW, UK http://www.amnesty.org/