Sexual Offences Bill Debate – Senator Hyacinth Benneth’s Summary Remarks 26.06.09 Part 2

See part1 below

Ms Bennett contined by asking:
“Can you really keep buggery between consenting male adults in the bedroom? she also stressed that granting homosexual rights would cause agitation for new penalties to address offences against same rights, she went on to say that Americans are grappling with whether to impose the controversial “hate crimes” legislation which would criminalize even a minister of religion saying that homosexual conduct is immoral.
“My observations are not in the least bit discriminatory, such labels cannot help us here.”
She went on to address the matter of incest briefly pointing out that she feared that groups in the name of “inclusion” may also demand rights such as a group promoting carnal knowledge if grown men with female children in high school.
“Would we craft our laws to suit them just because they demand inclusion?”
“We must again be driven by higher ideals and maintain values and standards that are in keeping with the common good. Anything else will eventually take us down the road to oral chaos where anything goes and everything will be relative except, of course, the concept of relativity itself. I think you get my point.
She then listed figures for Buggery and Rape for the years 2000 – 2008

…….although there has been a slight dip in cases of rape since 2000 from 870 to 849 in 2008 there have been increases and decreases over the period which indicate that we are not really getting rid of the problem. The total number of rapes during the period is 7,463. This is alarming.
In the case of buggery there has been a slight increase. Between 2000 and 2008, the number of cases has risen from 33 to 36 with a high of 47 in 2006, making total of 316 cases over the period.

Peter Tatchell’s Response to Hyacinth Bennett’s representation of his comments

please see Sexual Offences Bill Debate – Senator Hyacinth Benneth’s Summary Remarks 26.06.09 for the remarks.

British gay human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell of the London-based gay group OutRage! said:

Jamaican MPs are misrepresenting my views on the causes of homosexuality.

“The scientific evidence on the cause of sexual orientation is set out in the book Born Gay. It demonstrates that genes and hormonal influences in the womb are major factors that cause people to be gay or straight. It is simply not true that people choose to be homosexual or bisexual.

“I dispute the claim that a gay gene causes homosexuality. In my view,genetic and hormonal explanations of gayness are important and significant, but they are not adequate and sufficient. Homosexuality is definitely not a conscious choice.

“A person’s sexuality is largely influenced before their birth and is firmly established by the age of six. It cannot be changed by so-called treatments and cures. This opinion is supported by the world’s leading biological and psychological authorities. I am dismayed the way some Jamaican MPs have misrepresented my views in defence of the country’s anti-gay laws.”

“The fundamental truth is that it does not matter whether people are born gay or not. Gay people are human beings and therefore we deserve

equal human rights. A person chooses their religion and politics, but that does not mean that persecuting them because of their beliefs is justified.

“It is time the heterosexual majority stopped fretting over the causes of homosexuality and ceased victimising the gay minority. Live and let live is the best policy. Love for gay people is the true Christian response, ” he said.


Senatorial idiocy (Gleaner Letter to The Editor) 29.06.09

(I agree that the presentations lacked understanding) see post below

The Editor, Sir:

I often wonder if good sense is a prerequisite for serving in either House of the Jamaican parliament. The most recent example of why I would ask this question are the statements attributed to senators Sandrea Falconer and Hyacinth Bennett. These statements are in relation to the proposed sexual offences law.

Among the proposals of Senator Falconer is to have the men who engage in homosexual relationship outside of their heterosexual relationships, be specifically punished. These statements are not what would be expected from someone who is supposedly educated. I wonder how the Senator would propose we enforce this? Are the police to be expected to conduct investigations into who men who cheat are sleeping with? What about men who cheat with other women; no special punishment for them? How about women who cheat on their men with other women is that acceptable in the eyes of the senator?

Lack of understanding

The other statement by Senator Bennett, shows a complete lack of understanding of gender and sexuality. Senator Bennett would like the law only to recognise sexual intercourse as covering penis and vagina that are defined at birth. So a woman who has had gender re-assignment surgery could rape a man who has had gender reassignment surgery and it would not be classified as such under Senator Bennett’s law.

Similarly, transgender women could be raped at will and would have no recourse under these laws. I would venture further and ask Senator Bennett about intersex individuals. What if neither organ is explicitly present at birth and later one is constructed, does that individual not deserve coverage under these rape laws?

The hatred of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Jamaica is so strong, even among the leadership that it leads to propo-sals that can only be described as occupying the ‘lunatic fringe’. It is particularly telling that these two individuals are black women who 100 years ago would have had as much right as a cow, yet they seem to be oblivious to the fact that the strides that they have been able to make were because others fought for their rights to fair and equal treatment under the law, and now persist to advocate for discrimination and what would amount to inhumane treatment of many of their fellow citizens.

I am, etc.,


Sexual Offences Bill Debate – Senator Hyacinth Bennett’s Summary Remarks 26.06.09

She opened with

” …..steps are being taken to have legislation in place to address sexual offences. Clearly the reason why we are going through this process is to update our laws to make our country safer. Safer for every woman, boy and girl, regardless of age or station in life.
This bill is the people’s bill.
It belongs to the Jamaican and we must always remember that.
Laws that deal with what can be viewed as the sensitive area of sex do not exist in the abstract. Sex ans sexual relations have a social and moral context. One may have to take into account the views and values of groups and sub-cultures within the general population as well as the common good of the people as a whole. However in going forward, it is very important that one adopts a wholistic and not a position that places focus on one segment or segments of the population over another. I think is very important that while we do everything to bring sex offenders to justice that their fundamental rights are protected. Some of these persons did not set out to become criminals. However for reasons that perhaps the psychologists can best explain many of these persons end up using sex as a means to hurt others or to address what they think are their own needs much to the detriment of society as a whole.
Many grown men continue to engage in carnal abuse of under aged girls. These girls should be focusing their attentions on passing their exams, preparing for their careers and starting a family when they are financially, mentally and emotionally capable of doing so.
Values and Philosophy:
Mr. President, my focus today is on certain aspects of this bill that concern morality and natural sexual relations. We know that this is the early 21st century. We know that is has become accepted in certain countries that once had colonies in this part of the world to implement new laws and incorporate new thinking that include a liberal approach to sexual relations. What was once considered unnatural has now been redefined in some places as being natural for a particular group or groups. However we are no longer a colony. We must develop our own thinking on these issues. The liberal values or ideology of one culture should not be imposed on another whether by external influence or even by importation.
The debate on aspects of this bill is more about values and philosophy than it is about the individual provisions. Liberal ideology has no difficulty with laws that for example could lead to to the overturning of our existing anti-buggery laws that criminalize, among other things, anal sex between consenting adults. Other persons with a judeo-christian worldview would however have a difficulty with that.
For many persons that push a radical homosexual agenda it is claimed that homosexual behaviour is natural for them. That particuar group has been quite successful in advancing their cause by using the rights based approach. I am not a psychologist or a psychiatrist but I have not seen where homosexual behaviour has been conclusively shown to be natural.
In fact the dominant scientific opinion has been that no one can conclusively show that homosexuality is natural. Clearly I am not here today to win popularity from certain quarters, but I have to speak the truth. The founder of the United Kingdom’s homosexual lobby group outrage, Mr Peter Tatchell admitted that you will not find that anyone is born homosexual. I found this admission very revealing and whilst I am not here to bash anyone I do believe that radical homosexual elements may need to look within themselves before advancing positions that can affect the common good. Advancing causes or including thinking that can implicitly or explicitly include what we call gay rights can eventually lead to several repercussions, some of which we may not have envisaged.
It can have negative effects on raising of children who need to have clear gender roles of males and females modeled before them. It can affect how families are defined such as whether a child can have two daddies or two mommies.
It can also affect how we should conduct our every day social relations as the holding of hands in public and even how invitations to social functions are addressed.”
end of part 1

Look for more parts to this what I call a ridiculous presentation in the people’s senate.

Homeless MSMs in Jamaica

In a forum recently planned for Gay homeless young men organised by a concerned group many of the young men’s plights were discussed and possible solutions to begin to address the problem.

In a frank and open discussion the men mostly aged in their early to mid twenties explained in detail their day to day ways of surviving the streets:

1). securing food by begging or shared purchases

2). hiding from would be predators (usually other more powerful homeless males)

3). harassment from police

4). harassment and ridicule from members of the public

5). physical attacks by security guards on nearby premises

6). homophobic attacks from other homeless boys and bikers who roam the streets at night

7). Older, more powerful and experienced bisexual and gay gangstas on the street prey on them for sexual favours, relieving them of money or gifts

Most of the MSMs were displaced because of their sexual preference becoming public knowledge hence they are chased from their homes by family or community members sometimes under threat of death if they should return.

Others lose their jobs for the same reasons and end up struggling to rebuild their lives mostly in fear of being discovered while doing so. The goals and ambitions are laudable with some already possessing skills in the arts and trades (chefs etc).

The men however support each other by way of sharing food and clothing when they receive gifts and money or just emotional kind by talking and making each other aware of their whereabouts.

Emotional development was a factor that was discussed at length which was found to be too heavy at first but it got more simplistic as the exchange continued.
It is hoped that from this first step would be the birth of a continued exercise to rescue these young men and make them into productive and confident human beings.


AJ Still at it

This old cartoon that appeared in the Gleaner on January 19, 2007 still rings true, looks like Senator A. J. Nicholson, former Attorney General of the previous People’s National Party (PNP)Administration is intent on keeping us in the closet (see the post below) in relation to the Sexual Offences Bill 2009 being debated in the Senate.
Let’s watch this one closely folks, after all it’s not about forcing our lifestyle on the nation as some would like to grandstand on but securing our freedom of choice as citizens to private actions without church and state intrusion.
Plain and simple.
here is a flashback to a statement he made while he was Attorney General on Same Sex Unions:
There is no intention whatsoever on the part of the Government or the Joint Select Committee of Parliament that any door should be opened by provisions in the proposed Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or otherwise, to decriminalise homosexuality or to pave the way for same-sex marriages to be accepted as lawful in Jamaica.
In seeking to make submissions to the Joint Select Committee at this eleventh hour, the church representatives and the group of lawyers who complain about certain provisions of the Charter, concerning the protection of the right to privacy, need to be reminded of the history and purport of those provisions as they were developed.
First, those provisions are to the same effect as those that are contained in the recommendations of the Constitutional Commission of the early 1990s, under the chairmanship of Dr. Lloyd Barnett, in their draft Bill on the Charter
Second, the Joint Select Committee that sat for a long time to consider the Charter provisions, in the late 1990s, heard presentations from groups who take a completely opposite view to that taken by the church representatives and group of lawyers. Those entities, including J-FLAG, even though approaching the matter from the base of a different provision in the Bill, were of the view that the Charter should move away from the recommendations of the Constitutional Commission on this score and that there should be no discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation.
The Joint Select Committee did not agree that such a recommendation should be made to Parliament since it saw such a measure as opening the door to the legalisation, or at least, the decriminalisation of homosexuality.
Third, the Parliamentary Opposition tabled a Charter of Rights Bill in the name of its former leader, in which the provisions of which the church representatives and group of lawyers now complain are in the same terms as those recommended by the Constitutional Commission that was chaired by Dr. Barnett.
The church representatives and group of lawyers ought to be mindful of the following:
• It is not possible to have a policeman placed in every bedroom in Jamaica. So that, within the confines of a person’s home, this particular mischief cannot be prevented or punished except, of course, someone complains.
• Every provision in a law or a constitution is subject to interpretation by judges. Interpretation of laws, however narrowly or broadly drafted, is always coloured by the experience, culture and prevailing circumstances by which the interpreter is guided in coming to a conclusion. That is one of the reasons why the final interpreter of a country’s laws and constitutional provisions should be exposed to and be keenly aware of the socio-cultural imperatives that must guide his decision.
Senator A.J. Nicholson, Q.C.

Legalising buggery provision in the Sexual Offences bill – Opposition

Source: RJR
The Opposition on Friday warned that the Government might end up legalising buggery through the back door because of a provision in the new Sexual Offences Bill.

Opposition Senator Navel Clarke who was making his contribution to debate on the bill in the Senate Friday morning, pointed to a clause in the bill which introduces into law a new crime called grievous sexual assault.

The bill sets out specific circumstances in which grievous sexual assault can be committed to include the penetration of the anus and vagina without consent.

However Senator Clarke argued that the inclusion of the phrase ‘without consent’ implies that buggery would be perfectly legal where there is consent.

“In my opinion, this has been a slight of hand (where) somebody seemed to have slipped in the matter which abolishes the (offence of buggery) as we know it,” he said.

The Opposition Senator was backed by Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate, AJ Nicholson who argued that the bill was littered with unresolved issues because the Government had failed to follow proper procedure and had rushed the process.

“The route that has been taken has caused avoidable delays, a meandering and a troubled journey through the houses … different days be appointed for the start of different provisions. Even after our deliberations here in the Senate, there will requirements for the House of Representatives to consider future amendments recommended in this chamber,” said Senator Nicholson.

The controversial bill, which was also subject to extensive and heated debate in the Lower House, is likely to continue to stir up a firestorm of reactions among several Senators yet to make their contribution.

Charging women for raping men

In the meantime, Government Senator Dennis Meadows wants the Sexual Offences Bill to be amended to allow women to be charged for raping men.

Senator Meadows elicited giggles from some Government and Opposition Members of the Senate as he argued for the section of the bill which recognises marital rape, to be made gender neutral.

Previously, the law did not recognize that a man could rape his wife.

But the Sexual Offences Bill sets out five circumstances in which a husband can be charged for raping his spouse.

The bill now says that marital rape can only be committed where the spouses have separated under law, are seeking a divorce or trying to annul their marriage, where there is an injunction ousting the husband from the marital home or if the husband knows himself to be infected with a sexually transmitted illness.

However making his contribution to debate on the bill in the Senate Friday afternoon, Senator Meadows argued that that section of the bill should not only address husbands raping their wives but wives raping their husbands.

According to him, the change would also address date rape.

“I’m man to say that I can be raped by a woman … I may not cry rape but it is possible. A woman who drugs a man with a date rape drug for example and has sex with him without his consent has committed rape or in this case grievous sexual assault,” said Mr. Meadows.

Married women left out in the cold – Mark Golding (right)

He was not the only Senator who took issue with the section of the bill dealing with marital rape.

Opposition Senator Mark Golding argued that by restricting marital rape to only five specific circumstances, the new bill would unwittingly end up offering less protection to married women than the law now offers to unwed women.

“The unmarried woman who lives with her man in long term relation will actually now enjoy superior rights than a lawfully married wife since if her man has sex with her without her consent he would have committed rape but that is not so in the case of a lawfully wedded wife unless one of the five circumstances is also present,” said Senator Golding.

The Senate will continue to debate the Sexual Offences bill next Friday.

Photography for Understanding Project Update

(SAMPLES from the US)

while Jamaican Red Stripe Beer and Rum is poured into the streets of New York and San Fransisco in support of a seemingly fledgling boycott Jamaica Campaign a resident of the Detroit area who has links to both States previously mentioned is here in Jamaica conducting a photo project to bring to bear the voices of those on the ground who have been affected by homophobic abuse.
The project as exampled above in pictures seeks to use photos with the words of the subjects to show what they want to have in their own lives. When I first heard about the intended work I was sceptical as I thought many here are afraid of being exposed through whatever medium to the world, I soon quickly learnt in enlisting participants that attitudes are changing and refreshingly so.
There has been an overwhelming response to the project I think partly because of the covering of faces in the photos and the messages that persons are allowed to convey in their own handwritten words, simple and effective.
The works may be available in the US shortly in selected galleries, I will keep you abreast and post permitted samples soon.

Gay Party DVD Reveller on the run

The recently publicised DVD of a gay party that was held in Jamaica in 2007 has another gay person on the run and in hiding. The 22 year old young man (we call him John for this post) has been in hiding since last year as he was “discovered” by citizens in his community in St. James.

John has since tried to seek refuge in other parts of the island but has to be in disguise wearing hats and keeping a low profile so as to avoid attacks, jumping from house to house and friend to friend to avoid getting them into trouble as well.

The first attack happened in St. James in late 2007 just after the disc went public when he was pointed out by thugs in his community who then ordered him to leave or be killed. He has sought solace by his close friend (Bob) in Kingston but was recognised and both men were attacked one evening as they ventured home. The would be victims defended themselves thus holding off their attackers but have had to resort to travelling under cover of darkness to secure clothes and food and have even slept in parks and on the road just to avoid detection.

No one can ascertain how the recording ended up in the public domain for sale however it has been sold for double and triple the price of a regular DVD in the initial release. “The Tape” as it is known is still the source of ridicule and derogatory comments by the public to this day.

Bob in question who was assisting John now finds himself in the same predicament as he cannot venture to his house as he is accused of harbouring “the boy on the DVD” and that he is a “battyman” he has been told to leave the area as well or he will be killed. His family is somewhat aloof since the incident at the home.

The matter has not been reported to the police out of fear of reprisals and the non interest in the case.

One of the problems the boys face is a lack of understanding from other GLBTQ persons as most tend to shy from helping brothas in trouble due to the negative outcomes of previous cases where persons try to intervene to help only to be harmed themselves by thugs or unruly behaviour by the persons seeking to be assisted.

How can we begin to deal with this set of issues, they have approached the FLAG but there is no available resources at this time as with many other NGOs the financial problems are plaguing as well.

Stay tuned for updates as I follow this case.


Cuba to resume transgender surgery

(Havana) Cuba will reinstate sex-change operations previously banned on the island, President Raul Castro’s daughter Mariela said recently.

The Health Ministry authorized the operations last year, but none has been performed since. It was unclear when the surgeries would begin.

Mariela Castro, a sexologist and gay-rights advocate, announced the return of sex-change procedures in comments aired on state television. She runs the Center for Sex Education, which prepares transsexuals for sex-change operations and has identified 19 transsexuals it deems ready to undergo the procedure.

Castro also said she backs efforts to allow lesbians to be artificially inseminated, a procedure currently barred.

The first successful sex-change operation was performed on the island in 1988, but subsequent procedures were prohibited, Mariela Castro told an international congress on assisted reproduction meeting in Havana.

Some Cubans protested the decision last year to allow the operations, either because of general opposition to the procedure or for its high costs for a developing country with economic problems.

The government would bear the cost of the operations because Cuba has a universal health care system.
Tags: currentissues