Buju’s damage already done (Gleaner letter 23.10.09)

I noted with interest your Gleaner Online poll which shows that 88 per cent of persons polled think that gay activists have gone overboard in their campaign against Buju Banton. Not only do I disagree with the majority, I think we could all learn something from the gay community.

I noted with interest your Gleaner Online poll which shows that 88 per cent of persons polled think that gay activists have gone overboard in their campaign against Buju Banton. Not only do I disagree with the majority, I think we could all learn something from the gay community.

Discrimination against minorities remains one of the USA’s biggest social issues. The gay community in the USA has every right to take steps to ensure that someone who supports discrimination against gays has a difficult time in gaining popularity in their country. Jamaicans would probably put up stronger opposition if an openly gay artiste had the nerve to schedule concerts here in Jamaica, regardless of the content of the music.

‘Informer fi dead’ culture

What I don’t understand is why, in a country like Jamaica where violent crime is the biggest social issue, we don’t demand that artistes like Buju do more to destroy the ‘informer fi dead’ culture that they helped to create. Lest we forget, at the same time that Buju was singing Boom Bye Bye, he also proclaimed that “gunshot fi buss up inna informer head”. It’s not enough for Buju to clean up his lyrics now that he’s famous. The damage has already been done. Buju’s example is seen in the Which Dudus song now covering the airwaves that warns of Madden’s Funeral Home being filled if Dudus is extradited.

Perhaps Buju is afraid to be part of the minority of Jamaican artistes who support cooperation with ‘Babylon’. Maybe our memories are too short to sustain public and economic pressure on social issues such as this. While we may not agree with the views of the gay activists, imagine how much better our own communities would be if we had the courage and resilience to go overboard for what we believe to be right.

I am, etc.,

GAVIN GOFFE

ggoffe@gmail.com

Kingston

Germany gives pension rights to gay civil partners

Germany gives pension rights to gay civil partners

gay marr germanyGermany’s high court today ruled that civil partners of government employees are eligible to receive the same pension rights as their straight married counterparts.
 
Germany’s high court strengthened the rights of gay couples on Thursday, ruling that government employees with registered civil unions are entitled to the same pension plans as married couples.
 
The Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe, the highest court in the country, heard the case of a Hamburg public servant who had been in his job since 1991.
 
The public-sector pension company VBL had refused to consider him in the same way as a married person, despite the fact he had been in a civil partnership for eight years.
 
Under VBL’s stance, he would have received €74 less each month than a heterosexual married man, while his partner would receive no surviving dependants’ pension if he died.
 
The court ruled today that VBL’s position was unconstitutional.
 
According to The Local, the unnamed man’s lawyer Dirk Siegfried said: “I see this as a very big step for the equality of homosexual marriage not only for employee pensions, but in many other areas too.”
 
In August, the same court confirmed that gay and lesbian people can adopt their partner’s children, overturning a previous court ruling.
 
It rejected the argument that to allow the female partner of a child’s mother to adopt would undermine the rights of the other biological parent.
 
A recent study revealed that 6,600 children in Germany are being raised by gay and lesbian parents.
 
However, gay or lesbian people or couples cannot adopt children they are not related to.
 
Social Democrat politicians, including Germany’s Justice Minister Brigitte Zypries, have called for a change to the law.
 
Gay and lesbian couples can register their partnerships and their rights include most of those of marriage, including the possibility of stepchild adoption, but they are denied the same tax benefits.
 
A failure to give gay partners the same benefits infringes the basic right to equal treatment, the Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe said.
 
The decision nullified an earlier ruling from the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) regarding a Hamburg man who has been a public servant since 1991 with a supplementary pension. The public-sector pension company VBL – the largest such company in the nation – refused to give the man married status, despite the fact that he’d been living in a registered civil union for eight years. This meant that his retirement benefits would be €74 less each month, and his partner would receive no surviving dependants’ pension in the event of his death.
 
But constitutional law forbids privileging one group above another, the court found. VBL is now required to adjust its benefits.
 
“I see this as a very big step for the equality of homosexual marriage not only for employee pensions, but in many other areas too,” the Hamburg man’s lawyer Dirk Siegfried said.
 
Openly gay Green party MP Volker Beck called the decision a “conclusive breakthrough.”
 
The legal protection of marriage and family can no longer be used to discriminate against homosexual couples, Beck added, calling the ruling a “clear defeat for the conservative ideologists” in among Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union.
 
He also encouraged the German government to give homosexual couples equal treatment in tax law.

Still more lgbt protest on Buju’s tour

scenes captured by the Dallas Observer

Scenes from protest action in Palm Beach on Tuesday night, October 13, 2009

Buju and the “Faggot” word issue:
………..The use of the derogatory term, however, was harder to explain. The group outside of the club, mostly from the Caribbean, admitted that Jamaica was more or less a “homophobic island.”
In fact, during a conversation with the evening’s Disc Jockey, the word came up again. When asked why he chose to use the term, the man seemed confused.

“So, they are not?” said the DJ. “Oh, I didn’t know faggot was bad … In Jamaica it’s norm. Here, I didn’t know it’s offensive to them.”

And this is the same explanation Morgan gave for his touring partner Banton.

“[Banton] had a meeting with his manager and some other people and he was educated about the word,” said Morgan. “He said, ‘I didn’t know it offended them.’

Who is Buju fooling???
H

PNP 2006, No plans to Legalise Same Sex Union (FLASHBACK)

Published originally February 17, 2009, Ministry of Justice (formerly National Security & Justice) under the People’s National Party Administration. This was a statement by the then Attorney General signed below after hearing the submissions from the right winged christian legal group, Lawyer’s Christian Fellowship who among other things contested the sexual orientation sections of the proposed bill, this was where the gay marriage discussion was thrown in the mix and vigorously debated and opposed by the group.

see more on the Joint select committees’ reports from GJW:
The Joint Select Cmt 2006 on The Charter of Rights – Consenting Adults (Male)

The Joint Select Cmt 2006 on The Charter of Rights – Freedom From Discrimination

Not Much has changed since eh….Charter of Rights Bill Deliberations from here

No plans to Legalise Same Sex Unions (2006 Official Statement – Attorney General)

“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.
Attorney General & Minister of Justice

United Nations Day is October 24th

October 16 – 24, 2009

In September 2000, building upon a decade of major United Nations conferences and summits, world leaders came together at United Nations Headquarters in New York to adopt the United Nations Millennium Declaration, committing their nations to a new global partnership to reduce extreme poverty and setting out a series of time-bound targets – with a deadline of 2015 – that have become known as the Millennium Development Goals. 2007 marks the midpoint in measuring progress toward achieving these goals by 2015 and you can view the 2007 Report at http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/pdf/mdg2007.pdf

Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger by reducing by half the number of people living on less than $1 a day and reducing by half the number of people who suffer from hunger;

Achieve universal primary education by ensuring that all boys and girls complete a full course of primary schooling;
Promote gender equality and empower women by eliminating gender disparities at all levels of education;
Reduce child mortality by reducing by two-thirds the mortality rate of children under five;
Improve maternal health by reducing by three-quarters the maternal mortality ratio and achieving universal access to reproductive health;
Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases by halting and beginning to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS, achieving universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDS for all who need it, and halting and beginning to reverse the incidence of malaria and other major diseases;
Ensure environmental sustainability by integrating principles of sustainable development, reducing by half the number of people living without sustainable access to clean drinking water, and improving the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers; and
Develop a global partnership for development by developing further an open trading and financial system that is rule-based, predictable and non-discriminatory, and includes a commitment to good governance, development and poverty reduction— nationally and internationally.

‘Respect our views’ – Simpson Miller calls for understanding from international community

Edmond Campbell

OPPOSITION LEADER Portia Simpson Miller yesterday urged Jamaica’s international partners to respect the majority views of Jamaicans on issues such as the death penalty and sexual preferences.

Making her contribution to the debate on the Charter of Rights Bill in Gordon House, Simpson Miller argued that on such highly sensitive matters the views of the majority must be taken into consideration.

She said several committees on the Charter of Rights Bill which received submissions from members of the public had agreed that a provision to restrict marriage and common-law relationships to one man and one woman should be final.

The Opposition leader wants Jamaica’s overseas partners to understand the country’s position, noting that a departure from this consensus could lead to deep disagreement among citizens and the authorities, leading to chaos within the State.

Pleased with ccj decision

Simpson Miller also said she was pleased with a recent decision by Prime Minister Bruce Golding to review his administration’s earlier position on the Caribbean Court of Justice as the country’s final court of appeal.

“That is what we were asking for, that the move to put the legislative foundation in place for the Charter of Rights and the Caribbean Court of Justice should be undertaken at one and the same time,” she said.

And the Opposition leader also hailed two former prime ministers for their work in advancing the Charter of Rights and Freedoms Bill, which is now being contemplated for passage early next year.

“We are dedicating this exercise to former prime ministers, The Most Hon P.J. Patterson and The Most Hon Edward Seaga, for their extraordinary contribution to this process in which we are engaged, and in which the end is in sight for this Parliament, to give its stamp of approval,” said Simpson Miller.

Both former prime ministers had expressed the desire to have the charter debated and passed before they retired from representational politics.

The Butch Femme dynamic ……..

Butch identified women are certainly more visible in Jamaica these days and as I hinted in a post before many are accepted as “one of the guys” in our male dominated social scenes. Jamaican men while homophobic are homo social in their get-togethers so butch identified women especially those who smoke weed and do the “gangsta thing” are looked upon as one of the guys in as far as that section of the social strata and integrate fairly well in some instances. Many judge hip hanging male jeans and clothes with corn rowed hair and are revered in some instances due to their connections in some quarters.
There are persons who say they feel intimidated to a certain extent by the presence that butch women project in public, their in charge, strong and no nonsense aura that they have about them.

Our society in general is still not accepting of same sex couples who display the heterosexual dynamics of a man and a woman in public and of homosexual public displays of affection in general.

Lesbians however have been able to live it down in a sense over the years they are not targeted as much as gay men in the murder music by dancehall acts and the rates of homophobic violence were far lower until late 2007 where there has been an slow and steady increase from beatings, illegal and forced evictions, armed assaults and corrective rape type crimes.

Butch identified women in particular have seen their lives despite the acceptance in male circles threatened in some way as well. Of note there was a butch lesbian earlier this year who was attacked by men in her area as described by her when they the attackers, 5 men could not “manage” her as in to overpower her they encircled her and decided to treat her as a man by beating her as in many inner city communities whenever thugs or gangstas run afoul they are punished by beatings by other men in the community as an example to everyone else. As in her case her lesbianism and or infringing on the male roles in the community was the supposed reason for her punishment.

Taboos and patterns

The taboos in the lesbian community still exist though, two butch lesbians do not date as that would not be accepted or may be frowned upon by other lesbians seeing this occur it may be done privately without the other members of the clique or group knowing.
Most lesbian relationship tend to pattern the heterosexual dynamic that of a dominant and a passive partner as there not many long term lesbian relationships that display femme femme or non butch dynamics or softer women being together to draw on as examples.

There some lesbian couples who in order to avoid the glares and remarks present publicly as a heterosexual couple of course that’s those butches who are very masculine and can carry off the aesthetics well. This has been noticeable in clubs across town as lesbians by virtue of their status of their higher level tolerance in Jamaica they socialise in open public spaces. This however was threatened for a while when a shooting incident at one of these clubs in 2008 placed on damper on the network and many ladies kept a low profile until the smoke cleared. The particular butch apparently was upset that she was hit on by a man who hurled lesbophobic remarks and threats and then physically encroached on her person so she allegedly took matters in her own hands. It was also alleged that signs were placed at the gate of the club for several weeks instructing no lesbians were allowed to enter after the incident. The gunshot victim however survived the incident and I gather the ladies have slowly returned to patronise the club with new security measures put in place by the management.

Butch women in Jamaica have been visible on the landscape since I was a child and do not get the kind of cynicism and stigma as opposed to effeminate men who run the risk of attacked and beaten if they “show themselves” in public. In the gay setting in socialization there is a clear butch femme dynamic, during parties certain dance songs attract femme who dance together sometimes and are more jovial the butches however tend to be more reserved and hang together in some instances and dance to gangsta type songs that are more mechanical and masculine in nature.

Role play

In relationships generally where there is a butch and femme involved the roles are similar to the heterosexual dynamic, the dominant partner takes care of the financial responsibilities in most instances although there have been equally shared responsibilities as well in some unions to those women I managed to speak to on the issue.

Androgynous women are not very popular in the Jamaican context just the clearly defined femme and butch roles or “high femme” images that are more visible, there are some femmes however who do not want to be labelled as femme as it presents them as weak, helpless or too soft.

More on these dynamics to come.

H

HIV vaccine: doubts over trial

Just a few weeks ago, some scientists thought they were one step closer to finding a vaccine for HIV/Aids.

In the large-scale trial in Thailand, a combination of vaccines seemed to give volunteers a protective effect of 31%.

However, new data, being published at a conference in Paris, is believed to question that assertion.

The BBC’s Matt McGrath reports from Paris.

Malcolm X was bisexual?

A diversion of sorts to look at an article by Peter Tatchell as controversial as he gets appearing in the Guardian newspaper.

Peter Tatchell – Malcom X was bisexual, get over it

October is Black History Month in Britain – a wonderful celebration of the huge, important and valuable contribution that black people have made to humanity and to popular culture.
It is also worth celebrating that many leading black icons have been lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), most notably the US black liberation hero Malcolm X. Other prominent black LGBTs include jazz singer Billie Holiday, author and civil rights activist James Baldwin, soul singer-songwriter Luther Vandross, blues singer Bessie Smith, poet and short story writer Langston Hughes, singer Johnny Mathis, novelist Alice Walker, civil rights activist and organiser of the 1963 March on Washington Bayard Rustin, blues singer Ma Rainey, dancer and choreographer Alvin Ailey, actress, singer and dancer Josephine Baker, Olympic diving gold medallist Greg Louganis, singer and songwriter Little Richard, political activist and philosopher Angela Davis, singer-songwriter Tracy Chapman and drag performer and singer RuPaul.
Few of these prominent black LGBT achievers are listed on the most comprehensive UK Black History Month website, which hosts biographies of notable black men and women. In the section on people, only Davis is mentioned and her lesbianism is not acknowledged. The website fails to identify the vast majority of black public and historical figures who are LGBT. The Official Guide to Black History Month UK is equally remiss. Why these omissions? Black people are not one homogenous heterosexual mass. Where is the recognition of sexual diversity within the black communities and black history?
In contrast, LGBT History Month, which takes place in the UK in February, devotes a whole section of its website to the lives of leading black LGBT people and links to the websites for Black History Month. Disappointingly, this solidarity is not reciprocated. On the Black History Month websites I could not find a LGBT section or a LGBT History Month link.
Perhaps it is unintentional but Black History Month sometimes feels like Straight Black History Month. Famous black LGBT people are not acknowledged and celebrated. Either their contribution to black history and culture is ignored or their sexuality is airbrushed out of their biographies.
A good example of this neglect is the denialism surrounding the bisexuality of one of the greatest modern black liberation heroes: Malcolm X. The lack of recognition is perhaps not surprising, given that some of his family and many black activists have made strenuous efforts to deny his same-sex relationships and suppress recognition of the full spectrum of his sexuality.
Why the cover-up? So what if Malcolm X was bisexual? Does this diminish his reputation and achievements? Of course not. Whether he was gay, straight or bisexual should not matter. His stature remains, regardless of his sexual orientation. Yet many of the people who revere him seem reluctant to accept that their hero, and mine, was bisexual.
Malcolm X’s bisexuality is more than just a question of truth and historical fact. There has never been any black person of similar global prominence and recognition who has been publicly known to be gay or bisexual. Young black lesbian, gay and bisexual people can, like their white counterparts, often feel isolated, guilty and insecure about their sexuality. They could benefit from positive, high-achieving role models, to give them confidence and inspiration. Who better than Malcolm X? He inspired my human rights activism and was a trailblazer in the black freedom struggle. He can inspire other LGBT people too.