Homeless MSMs harrassed on streets by police

Allegations of harassment of gay adolescents and men by the police have once again surfaced. Last week on two nights in a row taxi drivers(not gay)and other msms who witnessed the happenings have reliably informed me that they witnessed police searching and ruffing up men and loiterers on the streets especially in certain business districts of Kingston. A police source however said that there is a drive afoot to clamp down on windshield wipers, pimps, ganja sellers, phone card sellers, prostitutes and dope dealers on the streets who peddle their wares illegally or try to solicit business openly.

In the drive to do so the cops seem to be employing a very hard handed approach to this.

Thursday September 17, at around 11pm two males known to some in our community were accosted and searched randomly by three officers who all had m16 guns drawn and using expletives at the men, they were overhead accusing them of being battybois, when the young men protested and said they weren’t the cops asked then why were they in that particular area. The area in question is a known strip for commercial sex activities carried out by predominantly females. The following night another set of guys this time, one who is known to be struggling after he was threatened in his rural community of his birth to leave as he was a faggot, he now resides in Kingston as a drifter were also searched, hit over the head with a baton and harassed vigorously by the lawmen.

While I can appreciate the need to rid the streets of the negative elements, randomly targeting males and accusing them of being battybois is not my idea of how to go about it, I had thought we were leaving that kind of behaviour behind with the small progress made under this new police administration with police community relations and lgbt people, we were beginning to see positive signs of properpolice conduct towards gays, one tiny step forward, three big steps back it seems, the other part to this equation is what can be done to provide safe houses or shelter for these homeless gays. The gay community itself loathes and fears taking in any of them in as persons feel they can’t be trusted as others who have been assisted but erred have made it bad due to breaking the trust extended to them by stealing and other awful happenings. As it stands there is very little in the way of interventions for this most vulnerable grouping. Can anyone help or suggest how we can begin to tackle this eyesore on our landscape and redeem these young males before they fall through the cracks and either end up dead, become drug addicts or perpetrators of violent crimes.

Help or suggestions anyone!
See also:
Homeless MSMs in Jamaica
Gay Party DVD Reveller on the Run

Peace
H

Muslim culture and gay sex in Barbados ….. a glimpse

the article below was sent me to by one of my many readers from Barbados, interestingly the line that got me was the very first sentence about muslim religion and body exposure, read on…..

Guard admits exposing himself

Published on: 9/15/2009.
IT IS FORBIDDEN, a Muslim revealed yesterday, for a man of that religion to expose from his navel to his knee in public.

But that is exactly what Shiraj Raja was doing, in addition to some other things in their month of Ramadan, when an island constable caught him at Hilton Beach on Sunday.

Raja, 26, a security guard of Kensington New Road, St Michael, was in the District “A” Magistrates’ Court yesterday, where he admitted wilfully, openly, lewdly and obscenely exposing himself on Hilton Beach, a place of public entertainment.

“I was sitting down on the beach and a man get out of a car and asked me to do that,” Raja said.

However, it was the facts of the case that left the court abuzz.

Prosecutor Acting Station Sergeant Junior Kirton revealed that an island constable was patrolling the beach around 10 a.m. when he saw Raja and another man behaving suspiciously.

The island constable watched as the unknown man and Raja engaged in oral sex before masturbating.

He shouted at them and they ran off, but Raja was subsequently caught.

“I am speechless and I am not usually lost for words,” Magistrate Pamela Beckles said.

Hours later Raja’s surety, also a member of the Muslim community, told the court: “I feel he’s got problems.

“This is a shock for the Muslim community [that] in the blessed month of Ramadan he is doing something like this.”

The surety further explained that Raja was also the first person to get divorced in their community. He had been married all of three months.

“I will fine him and let your community deal with him,” Magistrate Beckles told the surety. “But get some counselling for him.”

The magistrate fined him $1 000 by September 25 or six months in jail.

The magistrate also released him with a surety of $1 500 until September 25.

AIDS Free World Press Release on Buggery Laws in Jamaica

(my apologies for the lateness of this post, just saw in it my inbox)

Jamaican Prime Minister Supports Outdated Laws

Boston, USA – March 2009 – The Prime Minister of Jamaica, the Honourable Bruce Golding, is helping AIDS to spread in his country. Two days ago in Parliament, he again made questionable remarks about gay men, and proclaimed that he has no intention of liberalizing the “buggery laws” in his country.

We find it astonishing that he does not look around and see what those laws have wrought. Criminalizing homosexuality plays a major role in the AIDS epidemic. He knows this, but continues undeterred, harming Jamaica’s citizens and besmirching its international reputation. This is reprehensible behaviour for a head of government.

Two of us from AIDS-Free World visited the Caribbean, including Jamaica, in February. Here are some of the stories we heard.

A gay man and his lesbian sister are shot in the chest in front of their families, in their home. A pastor praying at the funeral of a gay man is confronted by an angry mob. Someone chases a lesbian down a Kingston street, catches her, slits her throat, and leaves her to die in a bloody puddle.

She didn’t die, and she and other victims of vicious homophobia told us their stories. We came away appalled, although homophobia is very familiar in all the countries in which we work. Appalled because homophobia, sexism and bigotry are rolling out the welcome carpet for HIV/AIDS, and we feel more strongly than ever that unless homosexuality is decriminalized, the pandemic will not stop killing.

“Know your epidemic” has long been a mantra of international AIDS organizations. It makes sense. We know, from UN data, that in certain countries in the Caribbean, prevalence rates among men who have sex with men (MSM) are as much as 20 times higher than in the general population. Jamaica’s and Trinidad’s adult HIV prevalence rates are 1.6% and 1.5% respectively, compared to 31.8% and 20% among MSM.

Combine these figures with the fact that in the Dominican Republic, for example, 78% of MSM report having sex with women, and what do we know about the epidemic? We know that gay men fear for their safety and lives, and that they enter heterosexual relationships in order to stay safe. So the virus spreads to women.

We believe “know your epidemic” means not just knowing (and often blaming) the epidemic’s victims. We believe it means knowing what makes populations such as sexual minorities and women so vulnerable to the virus. MSM are not to blame for the high prevalence rates in their communities: the bigotry and legalized homophobia that drive them underground are.

The world has always blamed the oppressed for their own problems. MSM certainly don’t want to contract HIV, but their communities drive them underground and prevent them from seeking out prevention. Research data shows that when stigma is lowered, so are infection rates.

We simply cannot contain the epidemic – in Jamaica or anywhere else – if we don’t acknowledge the barriers facing those in high-risk groups. Those barriers include bigotry, fear, hatred and legalized discrimination.

Mr. Michel Sidibé, the new Executive Director of UNAIDS, recently gave strong support to this analysis in a number of principled speeches and statements. He has come out swinging against the consequences of sodomy laws and the criminalization of homosexuality. We would suggest that Mr. Sidibé and the UNAIDS Regional Director in the Caribbean send a dignified letter to Prime Minister Golding to protest that he is sparking the fire of the epidemic. Institutionalized discrimination puts Jamaica at risk of the further spread of HIV/AIDS, and it puts Jamaica on the wrong side of history.

Twenty-six years into the pandemic, with so much known about prevention and treatment, we at AIDS-Free World find it horrifying that HIV continues to keep its vicious grip on the nations of the Caribbean. Until human rights violations against vulnerable groups cease, this will not change. We call upon governments to end repression by repealing sodomy laws, and we call upon citizens to let go of hatred, fear and prejudice that diminishes and endangers us all.

(Stephen Lewis, Co-Director, and Julia Greenberg, Associate Director, of AIDS-Free World, traveled to the Caribbean in February.)

3 year old piece stills rings true ….. HIV/AIDS stigma continues

RIGHTS-JAMAICA: Hauling HIV/AIDS Out of the Closet By Michael Deibert

KINGSTON, Sep 26 (IPS) – When Jamaica’s Health Ministry recently launched an anti-HIV stigma campaign titled “Getting on with Life” prominently featuring two HIV-positive Jamaicans speaking publicly about their experiences living with the disease, it was something of a watershed moment for groups like Jamaica AIDS Support, formed in 1991 to combat the spread of AIDS and HIV.

“There is a general acceptance now that HIV affects everybody,” said Anne Marie Dobson, the organisation’s public education coordinator “The government has enormously supported HIV programmes… And overall, there has been improvement in the way people think and feel about HIV.”

For those among the 25,000 Jamaicans that the Ministry of Health estimates are living with HIV, an estimated 15,000 persons are unaware that they are infected with the virus. For those who do know their status, however, difficult decisions remain about how to handle their knowledge of the disease.

“I live in a community where they don’t know that I am positive, and I can’t tell them,” said John Turner (not his real name), a 55 year-old labourer who hails from a lower-middle class suburb of Kingston. “I just can’t tell them because of the stigma that is attached to it. I don’t know what the reaction would be. “

“It’s a common perception that HIV affects largely the gay population, [and] we can’t say that that sort of perception has been totally wiped out,” said Daniel Townsend, Jamaica AIDS Support’s advocacy and research coordinator. “But to a large extent people are now getting the message that everyone is at risk for contracting this disease, and that is a huge and great help for AIDS service organisations in this country.”

Indeed, one of the greatest hurdles to effective HIV and AIDS education, experts say, is Jamaican attitudes towards homosexuality, an issue that remains highly controversial. Steve Harvey, Jamaica AIDS Support’s leader of targeted interventions for reaching out to gays and lesbians, sex workers and other minority groups, was kidnapped and killed in November 2005 by burglars who noticed a picture of him with his boyfriend on a laptop computer while robbing his home.

While many argue there have been great strides towards acceptance for gays and lesbians in the country, others charge that a kernel of violent bigotry remains, making the work of educators all the more difficult.

“I don’t think (Jamaica’s reputation for anti-gay violence) is overstated at all,” Nancy Anderson, chief legal officer with the Independent Jamaica Council for Human Rights (IJCHR), an organisation formed upon the 20th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1968, and counting as the oldest human rights NGO in the Caribbean.

“You are in a very dangerous situation if you say that you are openly gay in Jamaica,” she said.

Like many other countries in the world, Jamaica has laws criminalising sexual relations between men. Article 76 of the Jamaica’s Offences Against the Person Act makes the “abominable crime of buggery” a criminal offence carrying a penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment, and Article 79 of the same act punishes physical intimacy between men with up to two years in jail.

“Gays and lesbians in Jamaica exist with the possibility that you might be chased, you might be run down, you might be killed because of your sexual orientation, and when a day ends when that does not happen, we give thanks,” said Gareth Williams, one the leaders of the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (JFLAG), an organisation formed in 1998 to eliminate discrimination against members of the community. “But when you wake up the next day, you still get up with that on your mind.”

The group’s offices, a modest collection of rooms in a middle-class business district of Kingston, are unmarked by any sign on the door. In addition to providing counseling and support, JFLAG also works to end what it says is harassment by police against the community and to stem anti-gay violence.

Williams himself said that after he identified Harvey’s body, police showed up at his home for several days in a row shouting that “Battymen (a Jamaican term for homosexuals) must be killed.”

One of Jamaica’s leading singers, Buju Banton, who first came to prominence with a song, “Boom Bye Bye,” which advocated shooting gay men, was acquitted in a highly controversial trial in January of charges that he and several other men assaulted a group of gay men who lived near his home in June 2004. JFLAG says that a gay man who went by the moniker Kitty was murdered during a 2000 street dance in Kingston while “Boom Bye Bye” was playing.

In one of the most notorious incidents, in June 2004, a mob reportedly acting in collusion with local police chased, beat and stabbed to death a Jamaican man perceived to be gay in the tourist mecca of Montego Bay, an attack documented in a Human Rights Watch report titled “Hated to Death: Homophobia, Violence and Jamaica’s HIV/AIDS Epidemic.”

“In many countries, there are many hate crimes, either because of sexual orientation or because of race, and what we have to do, is acknowledge that happens in Jamaica and where possible, police it vigorously,” says Mark Shields, a 30 year-veteran of police forces in Britain who has served as deputy commissioner for crime in the Jamaica Constabulary Force since 2005.

“There are allegations that some of our officers are homophobic, and I think that’s true, but equally I could tell you that in London there are some officers that are homophobic, so this isn’t something whereby we should see Jamaica in isolation from the rest of the world,” he said.

Another area where activists say that a more aggressive approach is needed is confronting the feminisation of the disease, and the dangers that infection brings to women. A 2005 Ministry of Health report attributed high-risk behaviour among Jamaican women to, among other factors, higher unemployment unemployment and what it termed female subservience in the sexual decision-making process.

“We now need to focus our energies on women, who are one of the most vulnerable groups in our population,” said Daniel Townsend. “While we’ve achieved a lot, there’s still work to be done.”

Jamaica’s AIDS activists have many accomplishments to be proud of, bringing the struggle against the disease from a misunderstood plague to the nation’s television screens, but they are under no illusions that tough struggles lie ahead.

“While Jamaica can boast that we’ve done a lot of work in the area of AIDS and HIV,” said Anne Marie Dobson. “We cannot sit around and believe that the virus is over.” (END/2006)