Gay Killers trial continues

The two men charged with the murder of a man whose decomposing body was recently found in Havendale, St Andrew, and who are accused of killing the man because it was believed that he was gay, will have to return to court on May 8 for the case to be continued.

Dwayne Gordon, 23, and Andy Williams, are charged with murder.

Allegations are that Gordon was being interviewed by the police as a possible witness to the crime. His statement, however, turned into a confession. He reportedly told the police that on February 23, he and Williams stabbed Dane Harris several times.

It is alleged that Harris had made sexual advances towards Gordon, who told Williams about it. The two reportedly devised a plan where Gordon would agree to meet with Harris, so they both could ‘beat’ him.

The court was told, however, that on February 23, when all three met up, Williams reportedly began stabbing Harris. Gordon reportedly told the police that he took the knife from Williams and also inflicted injuries.

The body of the deceased was found on February 26. Gordon told the court that Williams was just a contractor he had met through a relative. When asked if the statement he gave to the police was false, he told the court that the police told him to sign a document and then he saw them writing.

When the matter was mentioned in the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate’s Court on Thursday, the court was told that the post-mortem report was not yet ready and the case was put off. Gordon was remanded while Williams’ bail was extended.

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Plea-bargaining and the search for justice, interesting piece

Canute S. Thompson

The issue of plea-bargaining was brought into public discussion some months ago in a matter involving a local politician and a co-accused. The matter has once again been brought into the spotlight with a reported declaration by High Court Judge Martin Gayle carried in The Sunday Gleaner of April 19, to the effect that plea-bargaining would significantly reduce the backlog of cases and save judicial time. This issue is worthy of public debate.

A plea bargain is an agreement between the prosecutor and the accused in which the accused pleads guilty in exchange for a lesser sentence or a reduced charge. In practice, either side may begin negotiations over a proposed plea bargain, though obviously, both sides have to agree for it to happen.

Plea-bargaining has not yet been enacted into law here in Jamaica but was approved by the Senate and the House of Representatives in 2005 by a unanimous vote under what is called the Criminal Justice (Plea Negotiations and Agreements) Act, 2005. If enacted, the legislation would give the director of public prosecutions (DPP) legal authority to engage in discussions and make bargains with an accused. The measure was introduced here in Jamaica in order to give the State greater room to deal with organised criminal gangs.

PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS

The practice of plea-bargaining seems to be informed by practical considerations. I have a concern that issues of ethics seem missing from consideration. The practical considerations are:

(a) Defendants can avoid the time and cost of defending themselves at trial, the risk of harsher punishment, and the publicity a trial could involve.

(b) The prosecution saves the time and expense of a lengthy trial.

(c) Both sides are spared the uncertainty of going to trial.

(d) The court system is saved the burden of conducting a trial on every crime charged as the amount of time that would be involved in hearing all cases would be very onerous for the public.

While the practicality of these considerations cannot be overlooked, the seeming absence of a focus on the victims and the implications for the maintenance of law and order in the society as it relates to the social assessment of criminal action is unfortunate.

ISSUES OF ETHICS AND JUSTICE

The issues of ethics and justice that the practice of plea-bargaining raises includes:

(a) The charges against any accused are a matter of public information, but the bargaining is essentially a private process. Why should this be? Whose interest does a DPP serve when he/she enters the negotiations with an accused? Can a prosecutor really act in the interest of the affected party or parties when he/she is under no obligation to bargain in any one’s interest or when he/she may choose to bargain in the interest of some other party, whose interest may or may not be the public’s interest?

(b) Quite apart from whether there should be private bargaining is the more fundamental question of whether there should be any bargain at all. I have a deep sense that something is wrong when a person accused of a heinous crime is given the opportunity to manipulate the process by opting to offer up information on others (which is the real consideration in decision to enact the legislation) in exchange for leniency. What if an accused has layers of information needed by the State? He/she offers the first layer and lands a considerable reduction in the sentence, thereafter begins to tug at the prosecutor that he could do more for the system for an even better deal. The probable outcome is that this accused could then be out of prison sooner to enjoy the ill-gotten wealth. How does that serve the cause of justice?

(c) Plea bargains are also perceived as offering the accused a freedom of choice between a lesser and greater punishment in return for information or cooperation in further investigations against others. Does not the offering of that freedom of choice send the signal that the crime committed is not as crucial as it appeared and the capture or imprisonment of another more important than the crime committed by the one doing the bargaining?

(d) How does a prosecutor decide with whom to bargain? What are the criteria and who sets those criteria? Should there be a role for the public’s input?

There is a role for leniency and mercy but the process must be transparent. Plea-bargaining is not a transparent process.

Dr Canute Thompson is assistant vice-president at the International University of the Caribbean. He may be reached at canute_thompson@hotmail.com

Sizzla show stopped in Canada

as gleamed from Norman Faria’s Guyana Chronicle article 19.04.09

Last weekend, Jamaican-born reggae star Sizzla was supposed to headline a concert at the Paramount Theatre in Toronto, Canada.

He didn’t even pack his bags. The Canadian Embassy in Jamaica had denied him a visa, apparently because of his songs inciting hatred and violence against homosexual people. They were quite right to do so.

Sizzla (real name Miguel Orlando Collins) was known to Canadian authorities. He and another unrepentant homophobe at the time “Elephant Man” (real name O’Neal Bryan) had another concert in another venue in the same Canadian city in October 2007 cancelled after protests from community groups. A homophobe is an irrational disliker of homosexuals.

As spokesperson for the Stop Murder Music Canada Coalition correctly noted: “This (stopping of this show) was not about censorship or artistic freedom. That stops when hate propaganda is involved.” The SMMCC referred to one of the songs “Log On” which urged people to “stomp” on homosexuals (battyman/chi chi man or “gays” as they are commonly referred to).

Homosexuality (lesbianism) is a sensitive and emotional issue. The average person in liberal democratic societies like Guyana and Barbados sometimes have difficulty in understanding it. After all, being called upon to accept men and men together and women and women together, especially sexual acts, goes against the grain of all they were taught from Biblical and other holy book teachings.

It took some understanding from the average man, like myself, who felt that nothing could be more normal (and pleasurable) than man having sex with a woman. After all,it made physical sense. That was how people evolved to have children.

It took some time but the average person’s essential decency and respect for other people’s rights emerged.

Now, there is a growing acceptance in many countries that homosexuals have a right to live normal lives so long as their behaviour doesn’t involve or encourage criminal and sexually unsafe practices. More importantly, that the behaviour of gays should be sensitive to the feelings of ordinary people about the issue. A growing understanding about gays and their place in society comes too as more scientific studies show gays to be that way because of such factors as genes rather than being a psychological disorder.

There have been deep revulsions over the violence and cruelty meted out to gays. Ten or so years ago, a 21 year old student named Mathew Shepherd was pistol-whipped by two men and tied to a wire fence in the U.S. state of Wyoming and left to die. The widespread horror shown by ordinary Americans at the hate crime against Matthew, who worshipped at the St. Mark’s Episcopal Church with his parents in home-town Casper, led to moves to include crimes against gays in existing U.S. hate crime legislation. First proposed by President Clinton, it was vetoed under President Bush’s watch but current President

Obama has pledged he will not veto the special amendments.

The state, whether it be in Canada or Guyana, must take some of the leadership where appropriate in properly channeling the increasing social disdain against violation of peoples’ rights on the basis of sexual orientation. Aside from Canada, the European Union (EU) group of countries also has strict laws prohibiting such discrimination. Last year, Sizzla found he was denied a visa to tour Europe. In 2004 he was banned from entering the UK.

The decisions of the state in these matters are based on interpretation of laws which can deny a person entry if it is determined he/she will stir up hatred and cause disorder among peoples. Their recordings should also not be on sale.

This was the rationale last year when Guyana’s Minister of Home Affairs Clement Rohee announced that the DJs Bounty Killer and Movado , whose songs have equally repugnant anti-gay and pro-violence lyrics, would not be permitted to perform in Guyana again. The Minister should be commended for this forthright action . Guyana can do without such incitement to hatred and violence and inflammatory behaviour.

The Guyanese group Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD) had voiced their opposition to the singers’ presence in Guyana as well as the recent detention in Georgetown of a group of “cross dressers” (men dressing up as women).

As I wrote to Barbadian authorities urging more control and regulation of a certain internet blog in the island which carries the most repugnant and racist postings against Guyanese nationals in Barbados , the prohibiting of airing of inflammatory and inciteful messages has nothing to do with freedom of speech. Hate mongers and racists should have no freedom of speech. We have to think of the overall good of society and its more important freedoms and rights which protect genuine freedom of speech and the well being and happiness of all, including people of sexual orientation.

Sizzla may be a creative artiste when singing about other subjects. I understand he has good social commentary in some of his songs. From working class roots, we must respect his creativity and look at his overall work.

However, when a singer gets up and publicly urges the audience to go out and kill a certain segment of the population, that is a hate crime. We have to take a stand.

In 1998, US senator Edward Kennedy told a legislative hearing . “Hate crimes are a form of terrorism. They have a psychological and emotional impact which extends far beyond the victim. They threaten the entire community and undermine the ideals on which a nation was founded.”

(Norman Faria is Guyana’s Honorary Consul in Barbados)

Jamaican overseas comments on the San Fran boycott

Thanks to Fiyu Pikni for this comment on our post below, thought it was important to post it as the dialogue continues on the issue.

I’m somewhat ambivalent about this renewed effort to influence change for the better, by our international allies.

I made the following comment on an article which supports the boycott: http://www.boycottjamaica.org/blog/huffington-post-time-to-boycott-jamaica/

“As a gay Jamaican, I am heartened by the efforts of our international allies, who are trying to increase general awareness of Jamaica’s homophobia, and what it means for queer identified individuals there. I agree with your approach, in that we need to be more proactive in our advocacy, if the Jamaican government is ever to recognize queers as citizens with inalienable rights.

That said, I am perturbed by the actions taken by boycott groups thus far, for they are exceedingly insensitive to the socio-cultural reality in Jamaica. Do not misinterpret me- doing nothing is not an option, but I hope that those who desire to boycott Jamaican products, for example, are sufficiently aware of the real challenges faced. Jamaica’s most homophobic citizens are perhaps the most likely to react with belligerence to the boycott efforts. Jamaicans do not like to be told what to do, or think. Generalization, yes, but i can promise you that this is the reaction the efforts you are supporting will yield. This will in turn make people more hostile towards queer identified individuals, and less receptive to issues affecting LGBT individuals.

The task at hand should really be to have the government decry violence against people of a queer orientation, and enact legislation to guarantee protection for them. They aren’t very empathetic to our cause now, and will be even less so once these boycotting efforts are in full gear.

Unless you are working directly on the ground, and with politicians, to get support for these legislative efforts, the goal of the boycotts will not be achieved. Further, whatever lofty goals one has to change the way Jamaicans perceive queers must be reevaluated. Pushing Jamaicans further into poverty will NOT make them more sympathetic of the needs of disenfranchised queers.

So I ask. In tandem with your support for the boycotts, are you also working directly with the LGBT rights advocacy group on the island to see what else can be done on the ground, with a grassroots approach. Are you encouraging people to write letters to the various members of parliament, who will ultimately have to vote on proposed legislation?

This problem will not be solved easily, because homophobic people are not rational, and so our cries will continue to fall on deaf ears, at least for a while. Clearly then, the issue must be approached in a holistic way, lest we exacerbate the dangers faced by queers, and particularly gay men and transgender individuals, in Jamaica.”

With each passing day however, I am more supportive of the boycotts. Let’s face it- as good a job as J-flag is doing, the Jamaican populace as a whole, and the Jamaican government, are not softening up to the idea that gays have a fundamental right to life and liberty. For many, we don’t exist as an oppressed minority. They often speak of foreigners imposing their immoral beliefs on Christian Jamaicans, completely oblivious to the reality that there is a sizable queer population in Jamaica, as in every nation. People need to learn, sooner rather than later, that this is not a matter of getting them to accept homosexuality…rather, our efforts should be geared at reinforcing the ideal that all Jamaicans, regardless of sexual orientation or gender expression, possess certain inalienable rights that the government MUST protect- after all, is that not their mandate?

If only our justice system was more efficient, I would study law just so I am able to understand better the Jamaican constitution, and consider ways I could sue the government for acting in ways towards homosexuals that are unconstitutional… anyway, I digress.

I am tired of being silenced. I am tired of being Mr. sensitive nice guy, who must always accommodate the bigotries of Jamaica’s ignorant populace. Perhaps this boycott, if successful, will have innumerable adverse impacts on Jamaica, but the harm inflicted upon queer Jamaicans, whether through verbal or physical violence, should be of equal concern. There is no greater evil…

I will reiterate that I do not believe boycotts will ever twist the arm of the Jamaican government sufficiently for it to decriminalize buggery, and decry discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation/ gender. Ultimately, our members of parliament will have to vote on the matter, and I am sure that there isn’t very much support for our cause. Perhaps in a generation or two, but until then, what do we really have to lose?

I believe Jamaica’s unapologetic stance against homosexuals is as bad as it can ever be… Surely, the boycott efforts will serve to inflame some people’s homophobia, but it is not making them any less violent or intolerant than they were already prone to be.

I am somewhat unhappy with the very firm stance J-FLAG has made on the boycotts. Yes, I agree that there are other ways to go about this, and indeed the boycotts alone wont work. And yes, targeting Red Stripe was a bad move on their part.

But seriously JFLAG, seriously, wa wi fi du now? Jamaican gays literally live in fear. I LIVE IN FEAR. Last summer I was walking through town when a man shouted out behind me, “a wan a dem dat ino.” I was on my own, briskly walking to my destination- I don’t even care to hang out in public anymore…And my heart skipped a beat, because I wasn’t sure if his next uuterance would be, “come wi brush im.”

Now I know that you are fully aware of the dangers faced, and are doing what you believe is the best approach to dealing with the situation, which happens to be a diplomatic one… It is my belief however, that your approach has some limitations. Perhaps if we had more than one Queer rights groups, which had different philosophical views about the best approach to ending active discrimination, then we could be a bit farther along in our efforts. I need not mention the influence of political and social radicalism in the queer movement which began after Stonewall, in 1969 I believe.

In the absence of another organization with a more extremist temperament, the boycott efforts in the US by the various organizations, will potentially serve us some good. I guess time will tell.

Gareth speaks…..

End the call to boycott Jamaica

I think it is disingenuous of Michael Perelis and the group in San Francisco to use my release of last year to support your boycott issues of this year. I was part of the Canada based attempts at a boycott last year. We learned numerous lessons from that attempt, not least among which is the fact that the lives of LGBT persons in Jamaica are at risk. I have therefore changed my strategy and will do nothing without the inclusion of my colleagues in Jamaica .

I implore you to do the same and do not support your present efforts. The struggle to gain rights and freedoms for the LGBT community in Jamaica will never be won by groups acting independently, but through a coordinated effort of selfless persons, groups and organizations both locally and internationally.

This call for a boycott of Jamaica is outrageous and counter productive. The attack on Red Stripe is appalling and unacceptable, of all the cooperate organizations in Jamaica ; they were the ones who were willing to stand out and denounce violence against any group of persons. This self seeking effort / campaign of the group in San Francisco need to end now. JFLAG has stated they do not support the boycott and that need to be respected. If the community that you claim that this boycott will benefit is not in support what is your purpose of continuing? It is only when we work together we will make the difference

Gareth Henry Former Co-Chair and Program Manager
Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays

Other Points of view on The San Fran boycott 2

by Carrie –

Gay rights activists in the United States are preparing a national boycott of Jamaica, known by some as “the most homophobic place on Earth.” The boycott will officially launch on Wednesday, at New York’s Stonewall Inn, with activists dumping Myers’ Rum and Red Stripe beer (both Jamaican products) down a sewer. In addition to liquor, the boycott will target tourism — a significant aspect of Jamaica’s economy.
At first glance, this appears to be a worthy battle for LGBT activists to take on. Instead of constantly focusing on same-sex marriage legislation, why not consider those living in parts of the world where gays and lesbians are continually beaten and murdered because of their sexual orientations?
Well, there’s one significant issue with the boycott: Jamaica’s LGBT population is opposed to it.
According to a press release from Jamaica Forum for Lesbians Allsexuals and Gays (JFLAG), the boycott would most likely hurt, rather than help, the lives of LGBT Jamaicans. From the press release:
Jamaica’s deeply ingrained antipathy towards homosexuality and homosexuals is a social phenomenon that will not be undone by boycott campaigns or government dictate. It requires the painstaking effort of confronting the society and talking to social actors who can bring change in the way society sees LGBT people….It is important that our international allies understand the nature of our struggle and engage us in a respectful way about it.
The organizers of the boycott have heard JFLAG’s perspective — and have decided to continue with the boycott anyway, arguing that LGBT Jamaicans are not in a position to support a boycott, as it would endanger their lives.
Now, personally, I’m uncomfortable with boycotts of this nature under most circumstances. While it’s certainly true that damaging a nation’s economy is a powerful way to communicate a message to a governing body, it’s also true that such significant economic interference can negatively affect the lives of innocent civilians. In this case, damaging Jamaica’s economy will affect the lives of the country’s LGBT citizens — a community already marginalized and faced with the reality of homophobic violence.
But in this case, I think the boycott is particularly inappropriate. To ignore the years of work JFLAG has tirelessly put into creating a safe environment for LGBT Jamaicans is to undermine the very people these American activists claim to support. Disrespecting a community in the name of activism is offensive and inappropriate. And given the history of queer persecution in Jamaica, there is no evidence that the boycott would diminish the homophobic violence that plagues the nation. Though the activism behind this boycott may be well-intentioned, it is certainly misguided.
Do any of you support this boycott? If not, what alternatives, if any, are there for helping the LGBT people of Jamaica in a respectful manner?

Other Points of view on The San Fran boycott

Gay Jamaicans Voice Support for BoycottsPosted April 15th, 2009 by Michael Airhart

Some Jamaicans are speaking out in favor of efforts to boycott Jamaican goods or music until leaders take serious action to reduce antigay vigilantism.
Perhaps most prominent among music-boycott supporters is Gareth Henry, who was the co-chair of Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals, and Gays until he was forced to flee the country for Canada last year. J-FLAG publicly expresses disagreement with the boycott, but according Xtra.ca, Henry says that JFLAG can’t be seen to publicly support a boycott.
“They can’t be the ones to call for the boycott,” he says. “They can’t be that voice. But the gays, lesbians and queers on the ground are supportive of a boycott.”

Henry says he’s tried talking to the government.
“We have tried numerous approaches, numerous dialogues with government officials,” he says. “They have been non-responsive to the call. We have to hit people where it’s going to hurt, where they’ll feel it. In the Jamaican context talk is cheap. After 10 years of JFLAG’s existence what else can we do?”

Meanwhile, Stop Murder Music Canada (SMMC) — which advocates a boycott of Jamaican musicians whose songs contain violently homophobic lyrics — is now calling for a boycott of Jamaica if the country’s government doesn’t take action on homophobic violence by May 12.
Xtra.ca reports that Canada’s reggae community is split on the issue.
Christian Lacoste, an openly gay Montreal reggae fan who runs the website Murder Inna Dancehall, supports both the boycott and an official immigration ban on visits by homophobic dancehall artists. But Cezar Brumeanu, who runs the Montreal International Reggae Festival and that city’s House of Reggae nightclub, opposes a boycott.

Another boycott supporter: Jamaican blogger Dave, supports BoycottJamaica.org, a newer boycott of Jamaican goods and tourism. Dave — who is forced to remain anonymous to protect his safety — says:
This could potentially devastate my country during this global recession but this is basically the only thing I can do to improve my living conditions without putting myself in physical danger. Jamaica sucks when it comes to addressing LGBT issues and I am tired of living under these stupid conditions. Obviously, LGBT issues require much more attention Worldwide, even in the US, but Jamaica just refuses to even give us any basic rights. And they NEVER speak out against violence against gays. I don’t F-ing care how long it takes, just Boycott our asses and pass the word along.

The goals of BoycottJamaica.org are modest: There is no requirement that Jamaica affirm same-sex orientation or legalize same-sex intimacy. Instead, BoycottJamaica calls for Jamaican officials to publicly commit to ending antigay violence, and for the Prime Minister to clearly and unequivocally condemn antigay violence and express regret for past violence.
But they refuse. Until Jamaican leaders declare a halt to antigay vigilantism, a boycott appears to be the only way for LGBT people in the United States, and their allies, to tell Jamaica that they will no longer subsidize Jamaicans’ war against their gay neighbors and against basic human decency in exported music.

Hat tip: Box Turtle Bulletin

Press Release – No to Boycott in San Francisco 12.04.09

Please see letter sent to our international allies from JFLAG, friends and supporters below indicating that we do not support the boycott in San Francisco.

April 12, 2009

Dear Friends and Supporters:

We thank our international allies for their continued interest in the state of LGBT affairs in Jamaica. Your support over the years has strengthened our voice and made it possible for us to make progress where we hardly thought it possible. One of the most significant ventures in which our international allies have collaborated with us was the SMM campaign that started in 2004, and which culminated in a local debate about the appropriateness of violence and hate in Jamaican music played in public places. Despite the occasionally homophobic rant by rogue deejays, we have seen a general decline in the level of homophobia coming from new Jamaican artistes and in new music from Jamaica. We have also seen corporate sponsors withdrawing their support from music that promotes violence or discrimination against any group.

It is with this in mind that we find it unfortunate that a campaign has been launched calling for the boycott of two Jamaican products, one marketed by a company that unequivocally distanced itself from the hostility and violence typical of Jamaican music towards members of the LGBT community. In April 2008, Red Stripe took the brave and principled stance to cease sponsorship of music festivals that promoted hate and intolerance, including that against members of the LGBT community. The naming of Red Stripe, therefore, as a target of this boycott is extremely damaging to the cause of LGBT activists in Jamaica.

In the global arena in which we operate today, events in one place can and do have repercussions in another. Concomitantly, information about occurrences in different places across the globe is easily accessible everywhere. We believe that any overseas entity or organisation seeking to agitate for change in a context with which it has only passing familiarity should first do its homework to ensure that it does not do harm to its credibility and ultimately to the cause of the local community whose interest it seeks to defend.

It is unfortunate that the organisers of the current campaign to boycott Jamaica have failed in the key area of fact finding. The misguided targeting of Red Stripe does tremendous damage to a process of change that we began almost 11 years ago. The boycott call has now left us not only with our persistent day to day challenges but with a need to engage Red Stripe and attempt damage control as a result of actions that we did not take. Against this background, we would like to reiterate that while we appreciate the support given by our international allies, and understand their impatience for change, we who live in Jamaica best know and understand the dynamics of our situation. We also know that change is a slow and tedious process and those who engage in it must be patient.

Jamaica’s deeply ingrained antipathy towards homosexuality and homosexuals is a social phenomenon that will not be undone by boycott campaigns or government dictate. It requires the painstaking effort of confronting the society and talking to social actors who can bring change in the way society sees LGBT people. We have been doing this through a small but growing group of increasingly aware opinion leaders who are concerned about the damage homophobia does to our society. We need those ears to continue being open to us and we need the relative safety that some of us have been given to speak to them.

It is important that our international allies understand the nature of our struggle and engage us in a respectful way about it. Unless they are willing and able to lead the struggle in the trenches as we have done, it is important that they be guided by us. To do otherwise would be to act in a manner that destroys the space for dialogue that we have managed to create over the past decade and to set back our struggle. It is for this reason that we urge those in the international arena who seek to act in our name and on our behalf to do so not only with the utmost care and responsibility but also with due consideration for our efforts and concerns as members of the local activist community.

Sincerely,

Jason McFarlane
Programmes Manager
Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays – J-FLAG
Tel: (876)754-8704
Website: http://www.jflag.org
Blog: http://jflag.blogspot.com/
email: jflagoffice@gmail.com, admin@jflag.org

Gay rights activists clash over tackling Jamaican homophobia

By Mathew Hywel of PINK NEWS

US gay rights activists have launched a campaign encouraging the boycotting of Jamaican products and services as a protest against the island’s treatment of gays and lesbians.

However, a Jamaican LGB organisation has said the campaign will damage their cause as one of the products targeted, Red Stripe beer, is openly supporting the anti-hate movement.

A campaign website, http://www.boycottjamaica.org/ was set up by former Human Rights Council Spokesman Wayne Besen, along with prominent LGB rights activists Jim Burroway and Michael Petrelis, and campaigns for Jamaica to become a pariah state until social attitudes on the island towards homosexuality change.

Jamaica is considered to be one of the most homophobic countries in the world, where gay sex between two men can carry a ten-year jail sentence or hard labour. Sex between two women is currently legal.

Mr Besen told the Huffington Post: “Why boycott [Jamaica]? Because Jamaica is on a downward spiral and suffers from collective cultural dementia on this issue. There is clearly a pathological panic and homo-hysteria that has infected this nation at its core.

“Jamaica is an island of self-righteous hypocrites. The Bible is used to rationalise brutality, and vigilante violence is justified with talk of virtues and values. But, the island is quite comfortable with ganja and gratuitous sex for heterosexuals.”

The website calls for boycotting of specific of Jamaican products sold in the US, including Myers Rum and Red Stripe beer.

In an open newsletter, the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) responded to the website’s demands:

” … we find it unfortunate that a campaign has been launched calling for the boycott of two Jamaican products, one marketed by a company that unequivocally distanced itself from the hostility and violence typical of Jamaican music towards members of the LGBT community.

“In April 2008, Red Stripe took the brave and principled stance to cease sponsorship of music festivals that promoted hate and intolerance, including that against members of the LGBT community.

“The naming of Red Stripe, therefore, as a target of this boycott is extremely damaging to the cause of LGBT activists in Jamaica.

The letter added: “Jamaica’s deeply ingrained antipathy towards homosexuality and homosexuals is a social phenomenon that will not be undone by boycott campaigns or government dictate. It requires the painstaking effort of confronting the society and talking to social actors who can bring change in the way society sees LGBT people.”

Last month, it was revealed that gay men in Jamaica were at a higher risk of contracting HIV due to discrimination.

The prime minister of Jamaica, Bruce Golding, also recapitulated his government’s attitude towards homosexuality:

“We are not going to yield to the pressure, whether that pressure comes from individual organisations, individuals, whether that pressure comes from foreign governments or groups of countries, to liberalise the laws as it relates to buggery,” he said.

Genetics & Homosexuality, Are people born gay,The Biological basis for sexual orientation

On a twist on homosexual twin studies, an Australian research group examined the question of whether homophobia was the result of nature or nurture.
21 Surprisingly, both familial/environmental and genetic factors seemed to play a role.

by Rich Deem

Introduction

Born Gay?
There is a common belief among liberals that people are born either gay or straight. Conservatives tend to believe that sexual orientation is actually sexual preference, which is chosen by the individual. This page represents a review of the scientific literature on the basis for homosexual orientation.

Rich Deem
Are people born gay or straight? Much of the current media sources assume the question is a solved scientific problem with all the evidence pointing toward a biological (probably genetic) basis for a homosexual orientation. Contrary to this perception, the question has been poorly studied (or studied poorly), although there is some evidence on both sides of question. In addition, many of the initial studies, which were highly flouted by the media as “proof” for a biological basis for homosexuality, have been contradicted by later, more thorough studies. This evidence falls into four basic categories:

1. Brain structure

2. Possible hormonal influences

3. Concordance of homosexuality in twins

4. Concordance of genetic markers in siblings

Why does it matter?
Until a few years ago, sexual orientation used to be called sexual preference. Obviously, the two terms denote significant differences in the the manner by which sexuality develops. A preference is something that is chosen, whereas orientation is merely something that defines us. The differences are potentially important regarding how the law applies to those who are gay. If homosexuality is not chosen, but actually is a biologically-determined characteristic over which we have no choice, then laws should not treat gays and straights differently, since homosexuality would be equivalent to one’s race, over which we have no control.

(CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ARTICLE)

Other matters examined are:

  • Sexual orientation – brain studies
  • Hormonal influences
  • Twin studies
  • Genetic studies – the “gay gene”
  • Sexual preference or orientation?
  • Homosexuality and Darwinism
  • Real genetic studies?