Male Circumcision Is No Silver Bullet in Combating HIV

(Click here also for Original Article)

(The author’s friend was driving too quickly in Cameroun and had to do a double-take after passing the sign above, she returned to the site later to confirm that she had read the the billboard correctly.)
Three African studies in 2006 showed that male circumcision could significantly reduce a man’s risk of contracting HIV from vaginal intercourse. “Significantly” in health study-speak might not mean what you think it means though. The studies, which examined nearly 8,000 men ages 18-24 in Kisumu, Kenya and Rakai, Uganda, found that male circumcision reduced men’s risk of contracting HIV from vaginal intercourse by as much as 53 percent. These studies corroborated findings from an earlier study in South Africa, which reported reductions as high as 60 percent. A 50-60% reduction is not 100%. Not by a long shot.

But since these studies were published, sliced foreskins have replaced sliced bread as the next best thing. Bad puns and gory images aside, the avid support for male circumcision among public health professionals, funders, and the public alike has often failed to ask the simple question: What does this mean for women?

Circumcision itself does not offer a man’s current partner(s) (female or male) any protection from contracting HIV. Many men — newly or previously circumcised — assume that circumcision will fully protect them from HIV, so they feel inclined to “reap the benefits” by pushing for sex without condoms, jeopardizing their own health and that of their partner(s). Moreover, after the operation, many men do not wait the requisite six weeks to let the wound heal before having sex – again, putting their lives and that of their partner at risk. Surely, there may be some indirect benefits to women. For example, expectations of the surgery may bring men into local clinics that would not otherwise visit health services, and this can provide an opportunity to educate men on safe sex and provide access to male and female condoms.

But we all need to get our facts straight. This week, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the AIDS Vaccine Advocacy Coalition (AVAC), and Family Health International (FHI) launched a website — the Clearinghouse on Male Circumcision – to do just that. Their page about the effects of adult male circumcision on women’s health includes some useful resources. Also check out Straight Talk About Male Circumcision – a post by Kate Bourne, the Vice President of International Policy & Regional Programs at IWHC, to learn more about what male circumcision means for women.

J-FLAG seeks clarification from PM on maintenance of buggery law

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

J-FLAG seeks clarification from PM on maintenance of buggery law
Kingston — March 5, 2009

The Jamaica Forum of Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays is calling upon Prime Minister Bruce Golding to further clarify his recent statements about the maintenance of the law against buggery. We wish to know precisely what the Prime Minister means by buggery “in circumstances similar to rape or grievous assault” and what the implications of that are for consensual sex between men. We are also concerned about the tone of Mr. Golding’s statement and note with amazement the Prime Minister’s stance that the country’s ‘Christian values’ should trump individual rights.

We wish to restate our problem with the buggery law as it applies to consenting adults. It is our belief that in a democracy, the definition of crime must relate to an act that creates a victim or victims. Consensual sex between men has no victims, which means that its criminalisation serves to protect no one. This makes men who engage in anal sex into un-apprehended criminals as well as creates a hurdle for those working in the fight against HIV. If, as Mr. Golding suggests, the maintenance of the provision is consistent with our values as a Christian society, he must explain why there are no laws to proscribe a number of other practices that Christians find offensive or sinful.

We maintain that as long as there are no laws against fornication or adultery, maintenance of a law against the sexual orientation neutral buggery is an act that targets gay men. In the absence of laws criminalising sexual and other sins, the anti-buggery prohibition is prejudicial, selective and discriminatory. We believe that Jamaica is a plural democracy and not a theocracy, and that the respect accorded to the views of a religious majority should in no way become the basis for discriminating against a minority.

It is therefore our view that the principle upon which the Prime Minister has argued for the maintenance of the provision against buggery is flawed. We believe that the primary concern of a Prime Minister should be with the protection of the innocent, not the criminalisation of sin.
~30~

Contact: Jason McFarlane
Tel: (876)754-8704
Email: admin@jflag.org

More on the Anti-Gay Seminar in Uganda

IGLHRC Update: More on the Anti-Gay Seminar in Uganda The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) have learned new details about the ongoing 3-day anti-gay conference in Uganda featuring some of the most virulent homophobes from the U.S. religious right. Here are some developments from the first day, reported by our partners who attended the event: Prior to the start of today’s workshop, Stephen Langa, leader of Family Life Network (the Ugandan organization hosting the workshop) and his American guest speakers met with several members of the Ugandan parliament.

During the morning session, Stephen Langa told the group that homosexuality is a big problem in Uganda and the existing laws that criminalize gay people are not good enough. He claimed that gay rights activists recruit young people into homosexuality. Langa told the audience that he knows 2 girls at a particular boarding school who were given a lot of money by gay activists in Uganda to recruit their colleagues into lesbianism. “By the end of the year, they had managed to recruit 13 friends, all of whom were given money to recruit others,” Langa alleged.

Don Schmierer, a member of the board of the American “ex-gay” organization Exodus International told participants that one of the biggest causes of homosexuality is the lack of “good upbringing” in families. He said that 56% of homosexuals experience abuse and violence in their families during their childhood. The abuse leads to pain, anger and hatred in the life of a child and this turns them into homosexuals.IGLHRC and SMUG will continue to monitor the situation and will post new updates on our blog as more information becomes available. The workshop will end on Saturday, March 7. To read the full account of today’s event, please visit IGLHRC’s blog: iglhrc.org/blog You can also read IGLHRC and SMUG’s joint press release about this conference on our website: http://www.iglhrc.org/cgi-bin/iowa/article/pressroom/pressrelease/868.html

Peter King trial – Judge walks out of court hearing

Senior Puisne Judge Marva McIntosh walked out of court yesterday after defence lawyer Berry Bryan began shouting and screaming at her.

Bryan’s outbursts resulted in the judge later granting an early adjournment in the trial of 25-year-old Sheldon Pusey, who is charged with the murder of 64-year-old Ambassador Peter King.

Bryan was addressing the jury when he proceeded to mention to them certain rulings which the judge had made in the absence of the jury.

Prosecutor Caroline Hay objected to Bryan referring to the rulings in relation to tapes which were not in evidence and how the judge had ruled in relation to evidence to be given by a certain witness.

The judge told Berry he could not do that but Berry began shouting “I say it and I will say it again.” He also accused the judge of supporting Hay in her objections.

Abrupt departure

The judge then walked out of court while Berry was still shouting and screaming. She returned to the bench a few minutes later and apologised to the jurors for her abrupt departure. She then adjourned the court.

When the trial resumes today, Berry will continue to address the jury. He began addressing the jury on Tuesday shortly after the defence closed its case. Berry, in his address to the jury, accused the prosecution of suppressing evidence, in particular two knives which Superintendent McArthur Sutherland said he got from King’s house and took to the government forensic laboratory.

Pusey has been on trial in the Home Circuit Court since January 19.

The Crown is alleging that Pusey chopped and stabbed King at, his house at 11A Waterloo Road, St Andrew, between March 19 and 20, 2006.

Pusey said in his defence that he went to King about a job. He said King was forcing him to be intimate with him when he took a knife from a cup on a bedside table and stabbed King.

The Gleaner strikes again at Smith with this Editorial – 04.03.09

We apologise for focusing intently on the newspapers but the public domain has become “sensible” for want of a better word it seems, it is heartening to see the comments and level of discourse being waged.

In the absence of leadership
These days the name Ernest Smith is likely to conjure up an image of a character with a bulbous red nose, in baggy costume, riding a unicycle. Except that Mr Smith’s statements from the privileged sanctuary of Parliament are deathly serious and potentially deadly.

It is unfortunate, therefore, that Mr Smith’s political leader and Jamaica’s prime minister, Bruce Golding, has not yet found the will to confront him on the dangers of his incitement or to show visionary leadership on the gay debate.

Mr Golding prefers to be populist and expedient rather than standing for large principles, notwithstanding his statement – some will claim less than vigorous – in defence of the right to exist of organisations that promote gay rights.

This newspaper insists that the sexual orientation of an individual is of no concern to anyone but that person and his or her consenting adult sexual partner. And it is certainly not the business of the State, particularly one that professes to be a liberal democracy that believes in the primacy of the right of the individual as long as that person’s behaviour does not impinge on the rights of others. Nor do we expect the State to employ an army of voyeurs to peep into bedrooms to pronounce on sexual behaviour or orientation.

Rampant homophobia

In that context, it is not only archaic and silly, but an assault on human rights for Jamaica to maintain as a criminal offence the act of buggery, which is the basic expression of male homosexuality. The maintenance of this law helps to feed Jamaica’s rampant homophobia as well as fuel this sense of moral rectitude on the part of those who, with a sense of impunity, commit violence against gay people. They do it because the State is, by and large, compliant.

We do not believe that shifting public attitude against homosexuality, especially among males, is without difficulty, or that insistence on their right to be gay is part of a larger principle that must be upheld. But no one ever said the leadership is easy, of which we remind Mr Golding who used to take high-minded positions.

Intellectual

We can assume Mr Smith, the legislator/lawyer who has vigorously called for the proscribing of the gay-rights organisation J-FLAG and the prosecution of its members, to be an intellectual luddite who has reached an evolutionary dead end. So, despite his invitation for a trampling of the Constitution, we might as well laugh – even if we know better and are aware of the danger. Hate can be a poisonous chalice, particularly for its victim.

There is small comfort in the fact that Mr Golding, the leader of all Jamaicans, disagrees with Mr Smith on the issue of proscription. But Mr Golding remains consumed by the crowd, incapable, or afraid, on this matter to reach for the greater ideals of leadership. So, thumpingly, he equates siding with rational argument in this debate with ‘yield(ing) to the pressure’ for the repeal of the buggery law.

Usually, though, it is easier to be populist. And perhaps more so in difficult economic times.

Golding Clarifies Statement on Buggery

The Prime Minister Bruce Golding has sought to clarify a statement he made in Parliament yesterday about the punishment of homosexuals.

In debating the proposed changes to the Offences Against the Person Act, Mr Golding said the crime of buggery, like rape would take on a penalty of life imprisonment on conviction.

But in a release this morning the Office of the Prime Minister sought to explain the statement.

It claimed that what the Prime Minister said was that where buggery is carried out in circumstances similar to rape or grievous assault, it would attract the same penalty, which will be life imprisonment or a term not less than 15 years.

During his contribution in the House last month, South West St Ann MP, Ernest Smith, charged that the punishment for buggery, which is a maximum of seven years, was not stiff enough and that homosexuals were abusive and violent.

He later called for the director of public prosecutions to instruct the police to charge members of the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) with conspiracy to corrupt public morals.

However, Mr. Golding has distanced himself from Mr. Smith’s comments on homosexuality and the right of J-FLAG to exist.

The prime minister was himself criticised by gay-rights advocates following his statement during a BBC television interview in which he said gays would not be allowed in his cabinet.

Amdist the PM’s claims here is a letter to the Gleaner editor – Gay psychology and Jamaica’s homophobia

The Editor, Sir:
As a heterosexual (straight) man, I have always wondered why would another straight man hate a gay when our interests do not conflict. I have heard some psychologists attribute the basis of homosexuality to heredity and the environment. In other words, a person can be born gay or nurtured into a gay environment and both attributes must be present for a person to ‘become’ totally gay.

According to these psychologists, one attribute without the other, and a person could lead a quasi-normal life. Essentially, this means that a half-gay person can, and do get married and bear children. Under the mentioned circumstances, the misery of these individuals can never be discounted in the ways that they live their lives. Because: (1) they don’t make good fathers because, deep down, they never wanted children; (2) they make even worst husbands, as they tend to be physically and verbally abusive; (3) they are confused and hence run from women to women trying to find themselves; and (4) they just do not like women.

Self-hate

Here is where the rubber hits the road – homophobia is an expression of self-hate. Some Jamaicans harbour serious hate for gay men because they internalise homosexuality – they imagine themselves doing the acts to other men and vice versa. Hence, they tend to feel dirty and rotten by the thoughts thus, by beating and even killing overtly gay persons, they are killing that aspect (the other half) of themselves.

It’s rather interesting to hear the main reason given in Jamaica for homophobia, “the Bible says it’s wrong”. Yet, the very same people who quote the Bible will admit that they and those around them are not without sins – yet they are not as loathed and hated.

Trapped in straight cocoon

That should tell you, that not following all the precepts of the Bible is not the basis of the hate and homophobic behaviour that exist in Jamaica.

Put the pieces together, people. The only person who should hate a gay person is one to whom a gay person has done wrong, or one who does not want to imagine that deep down he is himself gay or not sure. In other words, he is a gay man trapped in straight cocoon, and wanting to get out.

Have you ever wondered why is it that whenever social stigma laxes, more gay people come out of the ‘closet’? It is because they have always been gay, and rearing to get out (no pun intended).

Jamaica, as a society, should let its homosexual citizens be free to exercise their liberties, or the repercussion could be far-reaching. What would you rather see gay people do, marry each other or marry our daughters? If they marry each other, that’s the end of the story. If they marry our daughters, they could invariably make a whole lot more little gay girls and little gay boys, walking around in straight cocoon, waiting for liberation.

As Jamaicans, let’s ask ourselves, which scenario do we like best?

I am, etc.,

Everton Eastwood

everton.eastwood@bge.com

Maryland, USA

PM Bruce Golding says JLP won’t liberalize buggery law (double headlines)

PM says country won’t be forced to decriminalise buggery

BY ALICIA DUNKLEY Observer staff reporter dunkleya@jamaicaobserver.com

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

PRIME Minister Bruce Golding was adamant yesterday that his Government would in no way bow to pressure from individual organisations, individuals, foreign governments or groups of countries to give a free rein to buggery.

Speaking in the House of Representatives while tabling additional amendments to the proposed Sexual Offences Bill now being debated by the House, Golding made it clear that he “will never support acts or threats of violence or intimidation in any shape or form against persons because of their sexual preferences and lifestyle”. However, he also said that the Government would never give legal endorsement to such practices.

“We will never start peeping in anybody’s bedroom to see what they are doing in privacy… but what we are not going to do is give official or legislative endorsement that holds that up and says this is a perfectly acceptable way to live,” the prime minister said. “This Government is not going to do it.”

“We are not going to yield to the pressure, whether that pressure comes from individual organisations, individuals, foreign governments or groups of countries to liberalise the laws as it relates to buggery,” Golding said, noting that his Government has been “harshly criticised” by gay rights groups for its stance on homosexuality.

That criticism increased last year when Golding told a BBC interviewer in London that he would not allow homosexuals in his Cabinet.

Said Golding yesterday: “I have said before that every society is shaped and defined by certain moral standards… if we start to yield, if we start to liberalise in a direction that strong, organised lobby insists that we should, then where do you draw the line?”

The prime minister, however, distanced his administration from comments made recently by South West St Ann Member of Parliament (MP) Ernest Smith, intimating that homosexuals were violent and should not be allowed to form advocacy groups.

“I speak for the Government,” he said. “I disagree with the comment he made about the right of persons who advocate for the liberalisation of laws to allow persons the right of choice in their sexual practices.”

Golding said gay rights groups such as J-Flag had a right to exist and articulate their views based on the Constitution of Jamaica, a right enjoyed by all citizens of the country.

He further said any act of violence committed against such persons because of their sexual preferences must be pursued, investigated, prosecuted, and dealt with, with the same force and zealousness as any other crime.

Acts of buggery are punishable in Jamaica with up to 10 years in jail at hard labour.

Since the debate on the proposed Sexual Offence Bill there have been concerns over the disparity in the treatment of rape as against that for buggery with suggestions that the new Bill should also include provisions to allow the penalty for the offence of buggery to be as stringent as that for rape and other grievous sexual offences. Under the law, statutory rape and rape carry a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

Golding yesterday said it has been agreed to make separate provision in the Sexual Offences Act to deal with the treatment of buggery.

Debate on the Sexual Offences Act 2008, which seeks to bring together all laws dealing with rape, incest and other sex crimes, began in the House of Representatives on January 27 this year, and is expected to continue during the next meeting of the House.

see also this Gleaner article:
Buggery laws firm – Prime Minister of Jamaica says life sentences for sex-offence breaches

Another side to Homophobic Attacks

Almost a year ago the photographed injuries were inflicted on a bisexual woman who resided in an inner city community after she was seen by another woman who lives in her area at a lesbian get together. Funny, as the woman apparently was not afraid to expose the injured victim in her community forcing her to be embarrassed and having to leave her home.

She tried to report the incident of abuse to the nearby police station but was advised by the curious officers to just leave the area and avoid any more trouble. The police in this scenario did not want to be seen as if they were taking up for a “Lesbian?”
She suffered three stab wounds to her right upper arm which have healed with keloid skin and several bruises which are somewhat visible to her back and legs as five men tried to beat her. She is a strong woman physically so they had a hard time restraining her or else the results may have been worse she told us yesterday our office – 02.03.09. She finally got the nerve to speak about the incident at the insistence of a male friend as she is still in fear since she has to do business in downtown Kingston. She fears she will be seen and pointed out again.
The point of it all is, where are we safe as gays? this woman who allegedly informed that the victim was a lesbian, what was she doing at a lesbian event in the first place?
Most LGBT events are carefully planned and invitations are usually sent out based on a “I know you” basis, this same “informant” we might add was seen dancing erotically with other women during the party and clearly having a good time which raise several questions:

  1. Could it be she was afraid of being exposed by the victim so she made the first move by exposing her?
  2. Was she straight and merely pretending to enjoy herself so as to observe the other woman’s actions?
  3. Is it that she innocently told someone who in turn told someone else hence the grapevine phenom which led to the homohobic attack by 5 men in the area?
  4. Was it jealousy as we have seen in another case where a woman called a mob on another woman in a bid to “Teach her a lesson?” as the victim was dating an ex of hers.
Hard questions to answer by our visitor who pondered when quizzed.
The use of homophobic strategies to solve issues between LGBT persons is not that common here but there have been reports before hence our detailed questioning session(s) with clients or visitors who access our services so as to ascertain the origins of such attacks. There are instances of these scenarios getting very ugly as genuinely homophobic persons get enraged and are incited to harm persons by mere allegations that they are gay.
A Volunteer