Minister confirms UK will redirect aid, not cut it, for human rights violations

Andrew Mitchell said the policy had been wrongly reported as a threat to cut aid

UK/commonwealth Aid Matter & The New Developments, no aid cuts but redirecting, ethical problems on our part – 22.11.11(my audio commentary)

According to the Pink News UK

Andrew Mitchell (photo) said the policy had been wrongly reported as a threat to cut aid

The government has confirmed plans to redirect aid away from overseas governments who fail to recognise human rights, but has said it will still ensure aid reaches those in need.

Some African states reacted angrily to Secretary of State for International Development Andrew Mitchell’s comments that aid would be redirected away from governments to other bodies, believing that overall aid would be cut unless anti-gay laws were repealed.

In October, he said: “Taking money away from Governments does not mean you do not support that country. You find other mechanisms for trying to help the poorest with food, education and health care as well as building up business structures.”

Several Commonwealth governments condemned the action as an attempt to influence domestic policy and introduce gay rights against countries’ wishes.

Mitchell made the statement to a meeting at which Peter Tatchell, the Kaleidoscope Trust, Stonewall, Justice for Gay Africans and the International HIV/AIDS Alliance were present.

He said the government’s position had been wrongly reported as a threat to cut aid or to single out LGBT rights as a condition for aid.

The Kaleidoscope Trust had presented the minister with reports byAfrican social activists and the Coalition Against Homophobia in Ghana, both of which pointed to fears of a ‘backlash’ against LGBT people.

Lance Price, Director of the Kaleidoscope Trust, said: “Andrew Mitchell clearly understands the importance of setting LGBT rights into a wider context and of avoiding any risk of harm to those that British policy is designed to help.

“We are fortunate to have a government that takes these issues seriously and is prepared to speak out when necessary.

“We look forward to working with ministers to help ensure that the views of LGBT people in countries that receive UK aid are properly taken into account and that the consequences and potential benefits of policy changes are effectively explained.”

Peter Tatchell said: “The commitment of the UK government to global human rights, including LGBTI rights, is welcome and commendable. I am pleased to hear that no cuts in aid are planned.

“Although human rights abuses are unacceptable and violate international humanitarian law, any reduction in aid would penalise the poorest, most vulnerable people in developing countries. Many are dependent on aid for basic needs like food, clean water, health care and education. They should not be made to suffer because of human rights abuses by their governments.

“I look forward to Andrew Mitchell and David Cameron making high profile public statements in the coming weeks to refute the misreporting of government aid policy and to counteract the negative anti-LGBTI backlash that this misreporting has generated in some African countries.

“Perceptions are important. It is very damaging to LGBTI communities in developing countries if cuts in vital aid are associated with LGBTI people and western demands for LGBTI equality. This inflames homophobia.”

15 African states in the Commonwealth criminalize homosexual acts, with many more in Asia, Oceania and the Americas also treating them as illegal.

ENDS

When this thing first broke I was very clear that we needed clarification on this both from the threat being an actual threat to begin with and if we were included in the list of commonwealth countries as I figured it had more to do with African states and if we actually benefited from such aid, some say we do other say we don’t, the Minister of National Security Dwight Nelson had said we do get a small tranche used to rehabilitation work in some prisons and deportee assistance upon their return to Jamaica, now with this news breaking I have serious issues with our advocacy structure who seemed to have gone on a frolic of their own to have unethically used the supposed threat by David Cameron to push our need for buggery decriminalization as it coincided with the commonwealth heads of government summit and the UN human rights review for us, this is not the way to do business as it will auger us no good in the end.

Now that we have the smoke cleared several questions come to mind:

1) were we too quick to jump the gun locally?

2) were our advocates using the original report as a tag along to unethically promote decriminalization of buggery on a false footing?

3) why didn’t JFLAG, Jamaica Forum for Lesbians Allsexuals and Gays and the other groups check to make sure we were in the batch of nations where aid could have been redirected or perceived cut as before now?

4) where would all this have gone if we knew it as redirected and not cut?

5) why has it taken so long for the Brits to clarify this?

6) are the British now backpedaling too seeing the furor the whole thing has caused?

Speaking to Sky News in October, Mr Mitchell said: “We have been very clear on this – where we think Governments do not have respect for human rights, it will have a big effect on the way we carry out this funding. Taking money away from Governments does not mean you do not support that country. You find other mechanisms for trying to help the poorest with food, education and health care as well as building up business structures..

“It is not about taking money away from countries but finding other mechanisms to help them. We take a very clear line. In a number of countries in Africa that discrimination against homosexuality has concerned us. In Malawi when they kicked out the British High Commissioner we looked at the whole nature of that relationship.

“We were aware there had been some expenditure by the President. We were aware there had been some lack of human rights – the intention to criminalize lesbianism – all took a part in my decision to stop funding the government centrally.

“What we don’t want to do is take money away from very, very poor Malawians who England, and particularly Scotland have a strong relationship with.”

Clearly they were targeting African countries more so than the Caribbean.

Although the debate is on in earnest the advocates should never have in effect mislead the nation and should have sought to clarify the position before diving head on with coalition teams at that participating knowing or unknowingly. How can we have any moral authority to ask the nation for any dialogue or present our arguments on the strength of a farce in a sense to bolster our call for the buggery law to be removed?

True representation must be above board and must be untestable ethically speaking and have some moral soundness, we need to get our act together, after all our detractors will judge us on that as they do already condemn us because of our “nastiness” we cannot go making demands and calls for acceptance on shaky ground, we have done so only some months ago in August or at least some parts of the advocacy structure when after the damning Jamaica Observer article on the banning of gay homeless men from one of the chain of advocacy organization one of the associated groups launched a stand outside an AIDS conference happening in Montego Bay that weekend calling for inclusion in the event yet the very inclusion they were clamouring for was the very inclusion that same homeless men clamoured for at the gate of Jamaica AIDS Support for Life on August 23 and 24 on the two days of shame of the second such civil disobedience action taken in history, the first took place February 2010 after the closure of the Safe House project and forced resignation of a supportive Executive Director who had started the pilot project.

Too many double standards? or are the British now backpedaling too seeing the furor the whole thing has caused?

The whole thing now looks very untidy from all standpoints and parties involved as well. 

Suffice it to say some will say cutting aid versus redirecting it is the same but let us remember aid comes in many forms and tranches.

Think on these things

also see:
Hypocrisy, Continued damage control via stands or a genuine call for inclusiveness in western Jamaica?

 On Stands and Inclusiveness 28.08.11

and

Also see:
Should Jamaica repeal its buggery law to maintain British aid? ……. from Gay Jamaica Watch on a poll on the Gleaner’s “Have Your Say Blog”

Peace and tolerance

H

Advertisements

We Can’t Legislate Sexuality

by Garth Rattray

British Prime Minister David Cameron’s threat to cut off financial aid to countries that fail to uphold human rights, including the oppression of homosexuals, had me taking another look at the relevant section within The Offences Against The Person Act.

Jamaica Gleaner Company

The section dealing with ‘Unnatural Offences’ (Section 76) reads: “Whosoever shall be convicted of the abominable crime of buggery, committed either with mankind or with any animal, shall be liable to be imprisoned and kept to hard labour for a term not exceeding 10 years.”

Naturally, I have no problem with criminalising bestiality; after all, lower animals do not possess the capacity to consent to copulation with human beings. And, the very idea of trans-species intimacy is warped and absurd. However, I wonder, how it can be an offence against a person if the persons involved not only agree to but also desire intimacy from one another.

Does the act, therefore, speak to an offence against society, even though it is a totally private matter only between two consenting adults? And, regarding the word ‘buggery’, it is oftentimes used interchangeably with ‘sodomy’, and sodomy is defined as ‘anal or oral copulation with a member of the same or opposite gender’.

I assume that, for whatever reason, the spirit of the law was intended to criminalise peno-anal acts between two males. However, technically, it could also end up criminalising any sexual act between a male and a female, other than peno-vaginal intercourse, because such acts are viewed by some as ‘unnatural’ or ‘abnormal’.

The issue of fairness

Furthermore, even if our laws label any benign and non-violent act that takes place between two consenting adults behind closed doors as a ‘crime against nature’, that will never alter anyone’s sexuality. And, to be perfectly fair, shouldn’t other ‘unnatural’ sexual acts like intimacy between two females, such as ménages à trois and orgies, be criminalised abominations also? They are not as uncommon as some would want to believe. Perhaps, therefore, the act is a relic that was formulated secularly but on religious grounds. Shades of Shari’a law?

I do not agree with Britain’s arm-twisting tactic; but, that aside, our anti-buggery law (as it relates to intimacy between two people) does seem a little strange to me. Whatever intimate acts mentally competent and consenting adults do with each other out of the public view is between them and their individual morals. I belabour the point because too much time and effort is dedicated to a small section of a law that can never regulate intimacy. It can only drive such issues underground.

Heterosexual abominations

There are innumerable heterosexual abominations being committed constantly, but people are rarely consternated by them. Many female spouses from every stratum of society submit to their male partners out of need and/or fear every day. They give in to ‘normal’ and ‘legal’ (peno-vaginal) intercourse out of financial need, under duress, coercion, threat of violence or fear of physical and/or psychological abuse – yet hardly anyone speaks to those common wrongs.

Many victims of peno-vaginal rape, under a variety of circumstances, are eternally devastated and scarred – yet the sentences remain out of keeping with that dastardly crime. Many men who father children simply walk away, leaving their progeny at high risk for a life of crime which severely impacts all spheres of society – yet, our legal system does not adequately address that injustice.

Politicians don’t really care what individuals do behind closed doors; the prevailing public sentiment and powerful religious groups dictate that they maintain an Old Testament-inspired law in a vain attempt at legislating sexuality (which dictates sexual practices). We should concern ourselves instead with educating everyone about the individual and community health risks of those and other sexual activities.

Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and garthrattray@gmail.com.

The Dance of Difference, The New Frontier of Sexual Orientation part II

In part one we looked at the book below on sister blog Gay Jamaica Watch where a preview of the first chapter can be seen via Kindle, also see the Smile Jamaica interview HERE – See the TVJ interview HEREAuthor Shirley Anderson-Fletcher, is a consultant with more than 30 years’ experience as an applied behavioural scientist, organisation systems analyst, executive coach and group facilitator.

Shirley Anderson Fletcher continued her promotional tour of sorts of her book The Dance of Difference where it was launched in Kingston Jamaica at Bookophilia   Thursday November 17.  She pushed the need for heterosexuals to rethink their stance on homosexuals and the associated stereotypes while speaking to Profile host Ian Boyne on Sunday November 20, 2011. Among other things she commented many of the points already outlined by advocates and independent LGBT voices over these many years.

I have been concerned about the oppression of racism and sexism for most of my adult life. However, I turned a blind eye to the oppression of gays, lesbians, and bisexuals until my fourteen-year-old son confronted me. I was forty-one years old at the time. He had overheard his dad and me laughing at a so-called ‘gay joke.’ He looked us in the eye and asked, “Would you really be laughing if there was someone gay in this room? Do you really think this is funny?” He looked at us long and hard before striding out of the room. I was mortified.

That was twenty-nine years ago. We made a commitment then to monitor our own prejudices and biases regarding gays, lesbians, and bisexuals. We’ve been intentional about building our awareness. And the reality is we still have a long way to go.


Shirley then employs a model called “Dialogue with Difference” for exploring this prejudice by presenting a transcript of a discussion about sexual orientation with a gay African American colleague, the Rev. Dr. Jamie Washington. That transcript comprises the middle section of the book, and it is revealing in many ways. This particular technique is based on the societal construct of dominance and subordination, but it turns that relationship on its head by permitting the subordinated group member in the dialogue to have the opportunity and authority to decide the focus of the discussion.

I was skeptical about this type of presentation but found myself drawn into the discussion and learning a lot about the issue and, like Shirley, my own preconceptions and prejudices.

This is the first of a series of books on prejudice by Shirley, collectively entitled The Dance of Difference. If you want a break from traditional fluffy summer beach reading, it is well worth your time.

Publication Date: April 15, 2011
It is rare for heterosexuals to acknowledge, much less write about, their own homophobia. This black grandmother who grew up in the homophobic culture of Jamaica in the 40’s and 50’s offers a moving look into the challenges faced daily by people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) because of the learned biases, attitudes and behavior of heterosexuals. The author, a behavioral scientist, who migrated to the United States 30 years ago, shares examples from her early life experiences as well as examples from her long career as an organizational consultant in the United States and Europe. The centerpiece of the book is a spontaneous dialogue between the author and a gay pastor about the realities of life for members of the gay community.

On the matter of rights to gays such as marriage she commented that she does not see a reason why homosexuals shouldn’t have them just as heterosexuals. She asked “Would Christ be hostile towards a group of people created by the father?” when pressed on the Leviticusal arguments presented by mainly religious personalities, she continued that “…the Bible has been used to justify slavery, it has been used to justify racism and it has been used to justify the oppression of women so in a way I’m not surprised that the Bible is now being used to justify the oppression of people who are gay lesbian etc…….. I am also aware of the fact that Christ never said a word about homosexuality” 

” ……. I can certainly understand this can be a challenging issue for people who are religious for people who are Christian and I would just say I want to encourage my Christian brothers and sisters to go back to the teachings of Christ and ask yourself, Would Christ be hostile towards a group of people created by the father?”

She continued “There is no evidence that I can name that would um you know that would describe homosexuality as a lifestyle, I believe homosexuals are by nature who they are in the same way that heterosexuals are by nature, they didn’t make that choice, a moment for me, right, a lightbulb moment, a lightbulb went off in my head when I thought did I choose my sexual orientation? and I know I never did any such thing all of a sudden at about age 12/13 the same boys who I thought were horrible all of a sudden were looking very very cute there was no choice it just was my evolution and I believe that gays and lesbians evolve in similar ways.”

In an interview with the Gleaner’s Flair, Anderson-Fletcher pointed out that growing up in Jamaica, she learnt to be homophobic at an early age, something that most Jamaicans learn from their elders and parents. In contrast, Jamaicans are always described as the most loving set of people on the earth, and as told through music, Jamaica is synonymous with love, an irony, considering we are also one of the most homophobic people on the planet.

She hopes that after reading the book, parents will be able to use it to look at themselves and the negative behaviours they have learnt and taught. “It is a useful resource that organisations and others can use in the development of programmes geared at avoiding discrimination against gays at the workplace and elsewhere,” the author said. She noted that it can also be used by psychologists and psychiatrists with their patients who are grappling with the issue.

Discrimination against the lesbian and gay community is everywhere, particularly because homophobic people do not stop to ponder why someone would deliberately choose a lifestyle that sees them being constantly vilified, hated, stigmatised and shunned as outcasts.

Her wishes

Anderson-Fletcher would like Jamaicans to read the book and if they are interested in changing their behaviour, to look at themselves and the subtle ways in which they learnt to be homophobic, understanding that they were not born with prejudices. They should also reflect on those prejudices in relation to race and gender. Finally, look at what happens to the gay community in society, take the bold step to talk to them, find out what their life is about, who are they beyond the sexual orientation?

The author is happy with Jamaica’s progress to date, she is pleased that the organisation Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays is now affirming itself and speaking out about prejudice. “Unless the subordinated group rises up against its opponent, nothing will happen, it’s like the American civil rights movement, nothing was achieved until the brave stood up and said ‘no more’,” she noted. She further said she was fully aware of what it takes to live in a society that sees your behaviour as sinful and deviant, but if you are not speaking out, you are willingly giving up your freedom. “The question gays need to ask is: ‘am I going to hide or be self-actualised and speak out for justice and human rights?’

http://danceofdifference.com/index.html

She said she remains passionate about her work because she finds it gratifying. she hopes that Jamaicans will move out of their comfort zone and begin to accept all minority groups in the society.

her sister said:

“Anderson Fletcher’s voice is authentic as it is courageous. Her decades of work as an Applied Behavioral Scientist specializing in Diversity – facilitates the process whereby the reader experiences the trauma of homophobia and the way it seeps into our Being and impacts our world. More importantly, because of the methodology of the book, she shares powerfully not only her own experience with us, but invites us to share ours through reflection and enquiry. The methodology of the book is critical for discussing not only sexual orientation but is applicable to any area of discrimination. Anderson Fletcher points out all are inextricably linked.”

– Beverley Anderson Manley, Broadcaster, Political Scientist, former First Lady of Jamaica

Here is a piece of the audio from the Profile Interview as at post time the video was not uploaded to the Television Jamaica (TVJ) site:

 Shirley Fletcher’s Dance of Difference on Profile 20.11.11

Peace and tolerance

H

International Day of Transgender Remembrance

The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998 in the United States kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. Rita Hester’s murder — like most anti-transgender murder cases — has yet to be solved.

Although not every person represented during the Day of Remembrance self-identified as transgender — that is, as a transsexual, crossdresser, or otherwise gender-variant — each was a victim of violence based on bias against transgender people.

The Transgender Day of Remembrance serves several purposes. It raises public awareness of hate crimes against transgender people, an action that current media doesn’t perform. Day of Remembrance publicly mourns and honors the lives of our brothers and sisters who might otherwise be forgotten. Through the vigil, we express love and respect for our people in the face of national indifference and hatred. Day of Remembrance reminds non-transgender people that we are their sons, daughters, parents, friends and lovers. Day of Remembrance gives our allies a chance to step forward with us and stand in vigil, memorializing those of us who’ve died by anti-transgender violence.

Note: This page was taken from http://www.rememberingourdead.org/day/what.html

The Remembering our Dead Web Project and The Transgender Day of Remembrance are owned by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, All Rights Reserved

This year I chose famous party Diva Mi’Que who was murdered after an altercation with her boyfriend, she received several stab wounds to the chest and stomach, a great shock and loss to the community in general. many so called or thought to be drag queens originally in our gay focused LGBT community are and were making themselves visible with ever so slow understanding from the LBT populations through blogs like this as well.

Lady Mi’Que in good times

Unfortunately the community was not allowed to be fully involved in her last rights as the family demanded no LGBT intervention at that stage although several friends braved the odds and attended the service and interment, there were stares and some whispers according to reports, a clear case of homo and transphobia so rife in Jamaica today. Not to mention our cynicism to the transgender community and the transphobia by default and trans-invisibilty our advocacy structure tacitly contribute to. We must continue to demand better representation from our advocates on transgender issues than just lip service when grouped under the LGBT with the occasional press release from the writing conveyor belt and to think the only recognition even as at this post’s preparation to transgenderism is a wikipedia link to transgender on their website:

http://www.jflag.org/communities/transgender/

We must not and cannot stop demanding on behalf of our friends in the transgender community better representation as a matter of fact better representation overall as it is woefully lacking given advances elsewhere or we better drop the “T” in LGBT and focus on gay rights since that seems to be the only issue on their minds. I should know I was there for several years before my strong views and expectations was too discomforting for them. Not to mention the recent controversial vote on the transgender representatives on the Country Control Mechanism for the Global Fund Round 11 sets of funds to Jamaica being processed. Sadly two gay men were selected in a meeting that was intended for something else but the vote was haggled unto the agenda, forced unto the participants including influentials and two young pre-operative transgender representatives who were snubbed after the voting was done.

photo – Two of the leading voices in the Jamaican transgender community (taken from the upcoming Taboo Yardies documentary where they were interviewed) both have no seat on the CCM. Also see an older report/study in 2010 on Conflict of Interest issues to do with the previous CCM setup:
Country Coordinating Mechanisms (CCM) Conflict of Interest:  

Also see:
LGBT History Month: Allies – Posthumous Recognition ’11 Part III

Transgender Influentials shafted at hurriedly haggled CCM representative elections

–  Real Advocacy or Not Part 2 – Transgender Influentials shafted

Rest in Peace Mi’Que, we miss you.

Peace and tolerance

H

 

Rev Al Miller on the Abnormality of Homosexuality & the invented gay marriage rights ploy

So this week again on his television show Word Power as was expected Reverend Al Miller pushed his anti gay position and associated the invented gay marriage issue as was hinted to by the Prime Minister in an interview with Ian Boyne on Profile on television Jamaica and a previous Gleaner editorial posted HERE.  No LGBT group or individual at this time of ever as far as I am aware has asked for gay marriage rights and it has been a smoke screen used to deny any acceptance of tolerance of LGBT issues in the public domain. We cannot even get past this debate and the confusion of buggery with homosexuality in general. One wonders if Reverend Miller is using this issue to repair his public image which has taken a battering since the Dudus Coke matter earlier this year and the subsequent missing gun trial where he, the goodly pastor was found guilty, a recent news service reported:

Reverend Al Miller has been found guilty of negligence resulting in the loss or theft of his licensed firearm. 

Reverend Miller, who is the pastor of Fellowship Tabernacle Church, in St Andrew, was charged in January earlier this year.

Senior Resident Magistrate Lorna Williams announced the verdict when the case resumed today in the Corporate Area Resident Magistrate’s Court.

In handing down her ruling, Williams said she rejected the unsworn statement Miller gave in his defence.

Responding to the verdict, Miller said it shows flaws in the system.

Allegations are that the reverend and his daughter were on their way home when they stopped at a school in the Shortwood area, of St Andrew, to pick plums.

He reportedly left a pouch containing the firearm and several rounds of ammunition in his car, but returned to find them missing.

Reverend Miller is also before the courts on separate charges. He has been charged for harbouring a fugitive and attempting to pervert the course of justice after then fugitive Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke was captured in his car along the Mandela Highway, in St Catherine.

Does Reverend Miller have the moral authority to speak? what is a pastor doing with a firearm? that is not to say he does not have the right to bear arms but the power of God should be your guide not a weapon that destroys that ends up missing and he conveniently forgot to report it to the relevant authorities.

This weekend at the Heroes Circle Reverend Al Miller’s church will be hosting Pastor,  self described ex gay Gospel singer Donnie McClurkin (above) who will be here for two days of concerts and meetings with other clergy. Is this a sign of the use of reparative therapy rebuttals towards the present debate on the UK aid removal, the challenge by Lord Anthony Gifford et al to the buggery law, homosexuality in general and a shot in the arm to the mounting opposition from other circles and individuals such as Shirley Richards past President of the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship, LCF? In 2004, Mr. McClurkin sang at the Republican National Convention. The appearance generated criticism for the event organizers and McClurkin for his statements on homosexuality. He claims to have struggled with homosexuality during his youth for several years, but states that he is now “delivered” from the condition. McClurkin wrote that homosexuality is a spiritual issue and that one can be delivered from it but by God; “The abnormal use of my sexuality continued until I came to realize that I was broken and that homosexuality was not God’s intention […] for my masculinity.” He then describes himself as going through a process by which he became “saved and sanctified.” McClurkin has stated that homosexuality is a curse McClurkin also speaks openly about sexual issues since becoming the biological father of a child with a woman to whom he was not marriage  He uses these life experiences in his concerts and speaking engagements.

Let us never forget that both Miller and Richards were present at the Charter of Rights sittings which saw the change of the definition of sex in the original draft of 2006 as they thought it was a loophole for homosexual rights in the future.

This morning Reverend Miller said among other things:

“…remember to pray for our leaders because the word of God says that first of all that prayer should be made for those in authority that we may lead a quieter and peaceable life, remember that the decisions that are made  by those in the seat of governance affect our lives so we want to pray that the wisdom of God, we want to keep the negative forces of evil away so that they will make the right and wise decisions that will ensure our nations is able to become  a productive nation and deal with the social ills.  

Last week we mentioned that issue, the homosexuality thing  continues to be in the air ……… lot of continuing comments to what the British Prime Minister said in the wanting to pressure nations like Jamaica to conform to change our laws to allow that the homosexual lifestyle should be accepted as an alternative   normative lifestyle and as he indicated that those who don’t conform they are considering cutting aid I have indicated we appreciate the aid from our international partners we need it as part of our development process but aid must never be at any cost if it is against the principles of spiritual righteousness  holiness and challenging the morality of our society then it is not a price we are prepared or can afford to pay for economic aid and let us know that if we take a principled stand that out prime minister has done I hope and pray he will continue to maintain a principled stance as the former prime minister did and their government to stand strong and resolute against that practice.

We are not by any means against persons  who have a certain lifestyle, we’ll understand it, we’ll help them, we’ll support them we will pray for them but we cannot take a position that it is normative, it is abnormal, it is not normative and it is not something we can now redefine marriage to include by no means  and so if it means aid won’t come because of that then we must be prepared to suffer for what is right, I tell you more if we stand for what is right on principles  then God will make another way for us all the time deliverance will come from another place, so I’m not worried, don’t you be worried either, we have a God who is on our side cause righteousness exalteth a nation ……”   

Al Miller on UK Aid & The Abnormality of Homosexuality 19.11.11

Al Miller sounds like that Ugandan preacher from the Uganda Unitarian Church leading the anti gay campaign as funded by US conservative religious groups which was revealed recently (also see:  Intersections of Church and State where the connections are shown in a documentary on the issue) In 2009, the Ugandan Parliamentary proposed an anti-homosexuality bill that would impose the death penalty on serial offenders of homosexual acts. Inciting fear and sanctioning homophobia, the bill has caused LGBT Ugandans to be hunted in their communities and forced into exile, the documentary focuses on the man behind the bill and his supporters, and exposes the political and financial influence used by powerful conservatives in the U.S. to export their anti-gay agenda overseas.

also hear my commentary:

No to Gay Marriage in Jamaica etc .. my two cents from way back in 2009 (ignore snapvine references please)

and 

Homosexuality is Not Illegal in Jamaica …. Buggery is despite the persons gender 12.11.11

Let us also not forget we got some $327 million debt relief earlier this year.

Here is Bruce Golding on his feet where he cleverly merged the invented gay marriage smoke screen into the Charter of Rights Debate in October 2009

PM Golding seen here gesticulating in a documentary called “Taboo Yardies” where he said among other things“…… I have challenged the gay community to explain, when they insist that we must change our laws to recognize and accept homosexual relations as a normal thing and we must do it because people should be free to choose, that’s the philosophical argument ….” 

see Rev Al Miller’s previous sentiments some months ago:

Rev Al Miller says gay lobby is using the guise of tolerance to get the nation to accept the “gay lifestyle” on September 11, 2011

here is an older interview

Aug 23, 2011

Rev. Al Miller Fellowship Tabernacle (Church) and Arlene Harrison – Henry ( Independent Jamaica Council for Human Rights I.J.C.H.R.) Debated about Sexual Equality

Peace and tolerance

H

International Day for Tolerance

Today is International Day of Tolerance and the focus is on discussions about dealing with issues affecting groups and individuals alike.

In 1996, the UN General Assembly (by resolution 51/95) invited UN Member States to observe the International Day for Tolerance on 16 November, with activities directed towards both educational establishments and the wider public.

This action followed on the United Nations Year for Tolerance, 1995, proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993 at the initiative of UNESCO, as outlined in the Declaration of Principles on Tolerance and Follow-up Plan of Action for the Year.

The 2005 World Summit Outcome document (A/RES/60/1) furthered the commitment of Heads of State and Government to advance human welfare, freedom and progress everywhere, as well as to encourage tolerance, respect, dialogue and cooperation among different cultures, civilizations and peoples.

Secretary-General’s Message for 2011

This is a period in which the old world is slowly but irreversibly changing and the contours of a new one are just beginning to take shape. Traditional institutions are being challenged. Budgets are being squeezed. Families are being stressed. All of this flux and churning creates enormous anxiety.At times of change, we must stay true to the ideals and principles that are at the heart of the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Among those core values is tolerance. Our practice of tolerance must mean more than peaceful coexistence, crucial as that is. It must be an active understanding fostered through dialogue and positive engagement with others.This is especially critical in combating the discrimination that causes so much divisiveness, destruction and death. We all have a responsibility to protect those vulnerable to discrimination, whether based on race, religion, nationality, language, gender, sexual orientation or other factors. Practicing tolerance can serve as the antidote to prejudice and hatred.UNESCO plays a special role in fostering active tolerance by promoting quality education for all girls and boys; advancing a free and pluralistic media, including on the Internet; and protecting cultural heritage and nurturing respect for cultural diversity.

As we face the complex and global challenges of our times, the United Nations will continue to work for mutual understanding among peoples and countries, a bedrock need in an interconnected world. As we mark this international day, let us remember that active tolerance begins with each of us, every day.

Irina Bokova

Message from the President of the 66th Session of the General Assembly, His Excellency, Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser

Fifteen years have passed since the United Nations General Assembly invited Member States to observe the International Day for Tolerance on 16 November.

Today, as our world goes through a period of unprecedented transition, it is more pressing than ever that we foster tolerance among the world’s populations.

In this time of change, we remind ourselves that knowledge, openness, communication, freedom of expression and freedom of thought, conscience and belief are essential elements for peace, respect and appreciation of diversity.

It is gratifying to note that there is growing acknowledgement of the need for tolerance and dialogue among different cultures and groups of people. However, we are also witnessing the continuation, and in some cases an increase, of discrimination, extremism and radicalism.

The complexities and challenges of today’s world call for enhanced respect, understanding and appreciation between individuals, families and communities. Integral to this approach are attitudes of openness, mutual listening and solidarity. In this respect, schools, universities, the home and the workplace are all important places for further promoting tolerance. Greater efforts need to be made, in particular, to teach children about tolerance and human rights, about diversity and other cultures, and about other ways of life. Peace education needs to be a part of the teaching in all educational institutions. The media also has an important, constructive role to play in facilitating free and open dialogue.

On this International Day, I encourage Member States to reaffirm their commitment to promoting the universal human rights and fundamental freedoms of their peoples by supporting activities that build tolerance, including those directed towards educational establishments and the wider public. In doing so, we will enrich our oneness and our diversity, and thereby help to build a peaceful world for all.

Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser

I decided to republish in part an old post I did in October 2009 as it captures most of the present day issues affecting us chief among them is the call for the buggery law to be repealed and a threat from overseas aid country the UK to withdraw said aid if we commonwealth countries do not adjust.

Promoting homosexuality? No, its about freedom of choice, privacy & tolerance

In Jamaica today many of the anti gay lobby flex their muscles every now and again by grabbing a Bible or the law books and beating us over the head damming us to hell already and saying gays are trying to promote homosexuality as if it’s some contagious disease that you get on touch or contact and reminding us buggery is illegal. Some including lawyers and journalists also make the mistake to say homosexuality is illegal when it is not, morality cannot be legislated and this is not a theocracy though by the looks of it we are slowly getting there. It is buggery, the physical act of anal penetration that the law is concerned with not the other factors and stereotypes of male homosexuality.

They also seem to forget that heterosexuals also practice anal sex when presenting their arguments. Intertwined and interwoven in all of that is the hypocrisy and classism where many of these same “moralists” mainly from middle and upper class Jamaica who speak out in public on airwaves and in print through sometimes hateful letters to the respective editors and or editorials have gay friends in their social circles but of course they are rich and educated so those are spared the insults, innuendo and rage that is presented otherwise.

This same anti gay lobby which includes learned professionals, Members of Parliament, legal and religious luminaries would much prefer if we kept our “filth” as MP Ernest Smith calls it to ourselves as he said in a recent interview presented on a Worldfocus report about stigma on homosexuals in Jamaica and HIV. The gay haters pontificate with great pomp and ceremony using the “majority” opinion that battyman fi dead (gays are to die) or at least we must not be seen or heard.

Yet while all this is going on the proposed Charter of Rights has been stalling in the Senate and in the house we are then told that consensual buggery is also illegal in the recently updated Sexual Offences Bill get the full PDF version here so the Charter when I last saw it speaks to the right to privacy and the whole question of the domain or threshold of ones home or owned premises is sacred is meaningless then. If I as an adult choose to have sex with another man and the state really wants to get me, whether consensual or not I can be prosecuted even by breaking down my door without a warrant I guess to lock me up on a suspicion simply because I am making love to a man. I don’t think we as gays realise how real this is. Oral sex is also covered in the new Bill as well but they have cleverly make it gender neutral along with buggery I think this is so as to avoid the criticism that gays were specially targeted in designing the law.

Why guarantee a right to privacy and then challenge it with pieces of legislation that impedes on that right so profoundly? it doesn’t make sense or am I wrong here?

Tolerance:
We seem to think tolerance means that someone gays are gonna get up and try to homosexualise everyone, as far as I am concerned you are either gay, straight, bisexual or any other variant of sexuality that identifies you it depends on if one chooses to act on it. Why can’t we all just get along? we readily watch North American and Jamaican gay themed movies, plays and listen to artists Elton John, Rupaul and George Michael who ironically Elton and George’s music is popular here played even by the homophobic of DJs on radio and in the dancehall & mixtapes sometimes yet we get worked up over homosexuals or the lifestyles.

I think we have the capacity to co exist with ease if we only try or want to. The stereotypical images of gays are often made into comedy although sometimes it teeters on homophobia with an aire of cynicism and scorn. Respecting people’s rights and freedoms from both ends must become the benchmark where we move from, all people can’t be the same and people must be free to choose as long as it does not impede greatly on another individual and the nation in general.

here is further audio commentary on the whole issue as I see them:

International Day for Tolerance 16.11.11 my concerns of our state

Also see:  Stem the culture of intolerance (Gleaner letter) from sister blog on GLBTQ Jamaica on blogger 

Peace and tolerance

H

Justice For All? writer complains of ‘gay rights” superceeding other issues

Eldira Neil, 

Justice For All?

A spectre is haunting Jamaica – the spectre of injustice.

Jamaica Gleaner Company

How else can one describe the series of recent court decisions where unjust sentences have been handed down and bail given in very questionable circumstances!

The case of the rapist who went through all the processes and was found guilty by a jury of his peers and was only handed a sentence of 12 years is one that has evoked the vitriol and bitterness of society.

The circumstances of the case, as carried in the media, involved a young girl who was brutally raped, then placed in a grave to die. The victim, a young girl, armed with the strong will to live, clawed her way out of her grave and was able to save her life. Then we have a judge who, for reasons known or unknown, taking the decision that 12 years was sufficient payback for such heinous, premeditated crimes. This is an injustice! Praises are accorded to the director of public prosecutions and the police for pursuing this case and for, according to news reports, presenting an airtight submission for the courts.

More pathetic

What is even more pathetic is the response from our human-rights watchdog organisations. Thus far, Jamaicans for Justice, which in the past has sought judicial reviews on decisions it believes to be unjust, has not said a word. JFJ cannot claim it does not rant against the decisions of the courts. It has done so many times in the past.

What is the difference now? Is it that JFJ is only concerned about human rights for some, those it represents, or is it human rights for all? Maybe the international donor agencies which support the work of JFJ and other such entities are only concerned about the human rights of persons they select. Who speaks on behalf of the victims?

The minister of justice seems to be taking every initiative to make the prison life of convicts easier. I have never heard Delroy Chuck, since his elevation to justice minister, speak about the horror victims of crime have to endure. It is sad, it is wretched, but who speaks on behalf of this girl who suffered, is still suffering and who will continue to suffer? Where is her justice? Certainly, the decision of the judge is a statement that justice within the hallowed halls of our courts is but a fabled myth.

Not for a second is this writer saying the brutalisation of citizens by agents of the state should be condoned. Justice and human rights are must be applied to all. Our judges are failing us. Who speaks for the victims? Not Carolyn Gomes, not Yvonne McCalla-Sobers.

It seems supporting the rights of homosexuals is of more importance now than the rights of the young girl who was raped. Or, maybe international donors are more likely to provide funds to organisations which support the repeal of our buggery laws than giving support for the victims of rape. By the way, our buggery laws are antiquated and should be repealed.

The families of Khajeel Mais, the young man who was brutally murdered in a taxi and a man who was shot and killed in Manchester recently, must be in shock and fear following the decisions of two different judges to grant bail to the persons charged with the murder of these individuals. In the case of the former, the person charged has even refused to hand over his licensed firearm to the authorities. .

Remember Tesha Miller? This individual was known for his leadership role in the Clansman gang in Spanish Town. He was charged at least four times, for murder, yet almost every time he faced the courts he received bail. There is also a recent case where a man was granted bail and the next day he went home and murdered his father.

These judges, who are supposed to be the great levellers in our system of justice, are leading us on a rather precipitous path.

Let us, therefore, remember the victims of crime. Let us speak for all injustice and let us join the movement for human rights for ALL.

668 women raped 531 suffered from carnal abuse in Jamaica in 2010.

Reports have indicated that 668 women were raped and 531 suffered from carnal abuse in Jamaica in 2010.

Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, revealed the figures while addressing parliamentarians from across the Caribbean, academics, and United Nations representatives at the Caribbean Regional Consultation of Parliamentarians on gender-based violence prevention on Wednesday at the Terra Nova All Suite Hotel in Kingston.

The two-day meeting, spearheaded by the United Nations Population Fund Caribbean office, in collaboration with UN partners, is one of a number of regional and national events resulting from the official launch of the ‘UNITE to End Violence Against Women’ campaign in October 2010. In 2008, the UN secretary general launched the campaign with the overall objective of raising public awareness and increasing political will and resources for preventing and responding to violence against women and girls.

“The unreported cases would surely increase the figures dramatically. These cases and the unreported ones have placed an added burden on a health-care system that is already struggling to deal with unpreventable health issues,” Grange said.

She pointed to a number of national laws that address the issue of gender-based violence such as the Domestic Violence Act, the Trafficking in Persons Act, and the Sexual Offences Act, and said that several public- education sessions had been conducted to enhance public awareness of these laws.

photo from JIS

Additionally, Grange said the Bureau of Women’s Affairs (BWA), a department of her ministry, had been utilising various mechanisms, including public education and awareness building to gender equality.

In this regard, Grange said the BWA was currently finalising a draft national strategic plan to eliminate gender-based violence in Jamaica. The plan was developed under the implementation of the Strengthening State Accountability Project, which was funded by UNWomen, formerly known as the United Nations Development Fund for Women.

She stated that other Caribbean countries, including Antigua, Belize, and St Kitts, are part of the project, which seeks to highlight six priority areas to address the problem.

According to the minister, the main objectives are to illuminate and bring to the attention of the public the extent of the problem of gender-based violence in Jamaica, to prevent and protect victims of gender-based violence, and to identify ways to aid those who have become victims.

Discussions on day one of the meeting focused on various aspects of gender-based violence in the Caribbean, and capacity building among the judiciary and other outcomes of the UNITE campaign launch. The second day highlighted ways in which parliamentarians could help mobilise political will to end gender-based violence.

In as far as corrective rape is concerned for this last based on previous reports that have reached myself and allies we had four cases and a case that was a carry over from 2009 was ended with the mastermind behind a rape ring in St. Catherine sentenced for 29 years for a series of other incidents. Corrective rape has been making a sharp increase since late 2007 with break ins on suspected lesbians and robbery at gunpoint with the victim severely beaten after while her more masculine partner was forced to watch the ordeal unfold. That matter is still in the courts I am told and the personnel at  CISOCA – THE Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse are aware of the series of incidents, they were especially caring for the St. Catherine matter as the ring led to a popular LGBT social networking site at the time, the trail led to a house near the Linstead area and computers and other equipment were seized, a female was also held as she was as it turned out the instigator in trapping the other female victims.

It is refreshing in a sense to know that the systems in place in some sections of the CISOCA network have been enlightened and are working with the same gender loving victims of the awful scourge to some normalcy. What is required now is a national strengthening of the CISOCA arm to be courteous to victims elsewhere who are same gender attracted. It is unimaginable however that with almost a ratio of four women to one Jamaican man that men find it necessary to rape women with all the bravado in the world while at it and gang rapings seem to be getting extremely popular in the crime. The 17 year old bisexual sister who was brutally abused by 8 men earlier this year in eastern Jamaica is a case in point, her mother has since had her relocated as threats have been messaged to the home of the sister that she must not speak of the incident or report it. The police I was told is looking into it as it is also surmised that a ring exists in the community as well.

This notion that one can rape away the lesbian traits of a woman in ridiculous and is a huge problem in parts of Africa where it is highly regarded by some males. Our advocacy has been playing step and fetch it with this issue hardly any serious concerns have been shown by the mostly male dominated representative structure who seem aloof to these women issues, the smaller arm of JFLAG Jamaica For Lesbians Allsexuals and Gays, WFW Women for Women is strapped for resources and since the departure of two very powerful voices to greener pastures and the Crisis Interventions Officer of JFLAG to Amsterdam not much has come out of the structures on the issue. This particular meeting at the Terra Nova we had no LGBT representative I was told.

Sad

Peace and tolerance

H

Buggery And Health – What The Gay-Rights Lobby Doesn’t Tell You

Byron Buckley

Byron Buckley

ALTHOUGH IT is fashionable to frame the discussion about the reform of buggery laws in terms of human rights, a more serious look at the issue from a public policy perspective indicates that it is essentially a public-health matter.

So, before Jamaica rushes headlong to appease the wishes of international donor ‘masters’, like the British government, to repeal our buggery laws, let us determine whether we can afford to provide for the health-care challenges that come with embracing gay rights.

Studies conducted in the developed countries of France and Australia, where effective treatment of HIV with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) is available, have shown a consistent increase in HIV incidence among homosexual men since the late 1990s. A 2008 study in France found HIV incidence highest among homosexual men – 1,006 per 100,000 person-years. In contrast, the HIV incidence in other groups was nine per 100,000 person-years for heterosexual men and 86 per 100,000 person-years for intravenous drug users. The study found that although overall HIV incidence in France decreased between 2003 and 2008, it remained comparatively high and appeared out of control among the population of men who have sex with men (MSM).

Readers should note that homosexuality has been legal in France for centuries. In deed, France is socially liberal regarding sexuality in general. However, the existence of both a liberal human rights and public-health framework in that country has not abated the rise of HIV among homosexual men. This is something for the Jamaican society and policymakers to ponder. Will legalising homosexuality necessarily result in better health management among that section of the population?

No guarantee of safe sex

A 2007 report by the University of New South Wales in Australia found a high incidence of HIV infection in homosexual men linked to unprotected anal intercourse (UAI). This is despite the excellent treatment response to HAART among Australian MSM. The infection rate remained the same as prior to the use of HAART.

In other words, the progress made in HIV treatment was being undermined by the efficient transmission of the disease through anal intercourse. The lesson for Jamaica is that legalisation of homosexuality does not automatically guarantee safe sex. It is not as simple as that – scarce resources would have to be spent in trying to modify sexual behaviour, as is the case with heterosexual behaviour.

Can we afford the cost to provide the equivalent level of health care to an unrestrained domestic homosexual population as in developed countries? A study conducted by the HIV Research Network in the United States – where gay sex is legal – found the mean annual total expenditures per person for HIV care in 2006 as US$19,912 (J$1,672,608). The research concluded that “HIV health care in the United States continues to be expensive, with the majority of expenditures [sic] attributable to medications”.

It follows that if Jamaica relaxes its buggery laws, like some advanced economies, we are likely to increase the burden on our under-resourced health-care system. In so doing, we would be dooming more of our people to a life of ill health, since we can’t afford the expensive treatment.

Women’s rights infringed

If there is a human-rights component to the campaign to reform Jamaica’s buggery laws, it is that innocent heterosexual women are being preyed upon, and their health compromised unknowingly, by bisexual men, that is men who have sex with men and women (MSMW).

In September 2010, the United States-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention grouped homosexual and bisexual men and reported the incidence of HIV as 44 times that of heterosexual men. This demonstrates the substantial health risk to a female from having sex with MSMW.

Furthermore, data from Trinidad and Tobago indicate that the MSMW group comprises 25 per cent of MSM – that is, bisexual men make up a quarter of men who engage in gay sex. And they regularly have sex with women.

Of course, gay-rights advocates can counterargue that there is no prohibition to risky or unsafe sexual activities among the heterosexual population. Gay-rights sympathisers also point to other health behaviours that have negative consequences, but are not subject to a legislative ban. Smoking and the consumption of alcohol are two obvious examples.

However, what policymakers have to weigh is the cost impact of the risk related to each type of health behaviour; hence, for example, the prohibition of the use of marijuana and other hard drugs. Conversely, smoking and alcohol abuse may very well be overdue for prohibition because of their negative impact on the health of the population. The point is that policymakers must bear in mind public-health consequences, even when making decisions regarding the protection of human rights.

For a struggling, developing country like Jamaica, it would be foolhardy for us to take a decision – to appease foreign donors and investors – that could result in increased burden on our already hobbling health system, as well as a possible rise in morbidity and mortality levels.

Are we that yet developed? Or is it that developed donor countries will cough up the money needed to provide the public-health infrastructure required to support the health fallout brought on by gay rights.

Byron Buckley is an associate editor at The Gleaner. The views expressed in this article are personal. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and byron.buckley@gleanerjm.com.

ANAL-SEX HEALTH CHALLENGES

Anal sex presents several health challenges:

• People who engage in anal sex are vulnerable to illness because the lack of lubrication in the rectum, compared to the vagina, results in increased likelihood of small tears which afford easy access of the HIV and other virus to the bloodstream.

• The cells lining the vagina are like those of the skin. It is several layers thick and designed to handle wear and tear. The lining of the rectum is a single layer thick and is not designed for wear and tear.

• Anal sex increases the risk of cancer from the human papillomavirus, the same virus associated with cervical cancer.

• Anal sex contributes to Lymphogranuloma venereum, which leads to procto-colitis.

• Compared with other sexually active adults, MSM are more frequently infected with several pathogens, including cytomegalovirus, hepatitis B virus, and Kaposi sarcoma-associated herpes virus.

Offences Against the Person Act

Unnatural Offences

76. Whosoever shall be convicted of the abominable crime of buggery, committed either with mankind or with any animal, shall be liable to be imprisoned and kept to hard labour for a term not exceeding 10 years.

77. Whosoever shall attempt to commit the said abominable crime, or shall be guilty of any assault with intent to commit the same, or of any indecent assault upon any male person, shall be guilty of a misdemeanour, and being convicted thereof, shall be liable to be imprisoned for a term not exceeding seven years, with or without hard labour.

ENDS

My response on the Gleaner page which I doubt they will publish:

” if Jamaica relaxes its buggery laws, like some advanced economies, we are likely to increase the burden on our under-resourced health-care system. In so doing, we would be dooming more of our people to a life of ill health, since we can’t afford the expensive treatment.” (cute way of saying we are nothing but AIDS carriers)

……. and the mistake again that repealing buggery will suddenly equals gay rights kmt, good thing I did this yesterdayhttp://soundcloud.com/glbtqja6/homosexulaity-is-not-illegal anal sex if far more safer and tidier (microbicidal technology and PEPFAR getting funding added) than decades gone by.

Better he postured his argument on the possible relaxed guard towards safer sex and prevention messages some gay/bi men have adopted who practice anal sex have gotten since we aren’t dropping like flies anymore and also realise that NOT all gay/bi carry out anal penetration regularly although they are in minority but any cute way to keep us in the closet eh?, why not suggest outercourse or non penetrative same sex as an option since he is so afraid of AIDS? yet again substitutional sex and situational homosexuality are left out of the equation although he poorly pointed out the bisexual linkages to HIV/AIDS infections ……….. he needs to get in the know a little more.

Gays have rights too: The Caribbean dilemma (Observer)

A statement by the prime minister of Britain, David Cameron, that his Government will not provide budgetary aid to governments that violate human rights including by discriminating against homosexuals and lesbians, has angered sections of Caribbean society.

The angry response may have arisen over a misunderstanding of Cameron’s remarks made in a BBC interview at the end of the 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth, Australia from October 28 to 30. The remarks were not made at the CHOGM itself.


Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Gays-have-rights-too–The-Caribbean-dilemma_10145250#ixzz1daFD6PLB

While Cameron did say that his Government would not provide general budget support to governments that do not uphold human rights, including the rights of homosexuals, lesbians and vulnerable communities such as young girls, his remarks were not specifically about homosexuals and he did not say that all aid would be withheld.

In any event, no independent Caribbean country is a recipient of General Budget Aid from Britain, and, therefore, not one of them would be affected. In this regard, the response to Cameron’s remarks could have benefited from more careful study.

Cameron did not state a new position. What he said has been the British Government’s published policy since earlier this year when the Department for International Development (DFID) conducted a study, involving a wide range of organisations and countries, from which it was decided that General Budget Aid to governments should be linked to good governance, accountability and respect for human rights. British budgetary support is only 16 per cent of the UK’s annual aid budget of £7.46 billion (US$12.1 billion).

Nevertheless, the policies, laws and practices applicable to homosexuals and lesbians are real and growing issues in the Caribbean, not only from a human rights standpoint but as a public health one too.

At the CHOGM in Perth, an Eminent Persons Group (EPG), of which I am a member, delivered a report to Heads of Government, who commissioned it at their meeting in Trinidad two years ago, on ways to reform the Commonwealth to make it relevant to its times and its people.

Included in the 106 recommendations in the report was one that governments “should take steps to encourage the repeal of discriminatory laws that impede the effective response of Commonwealth countries to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and commit to programmes of education that would help a repeal of such laws”. Amongst these laws are those that criminalise homosexuality.

The recommendation proved to be difficult for many African and Caribbean governments. Of the current 53 nations of the Commonwealth, 41 of them retain laws that criminalise homosexuality in particular. Some of these laws dictate that homosexuals should be flogged and jailed. Of the 41 states with such laws, all 12 of the independent Commonwealth Caribbean countries are included.

Remarkably, these laws are relics of the colonial past. They were introduced in the Caribbean by the British Colonial government. But while Britain, like the majority of countries in the world, has moved on to decriminalise homosexuality, the colonial laws remain in many parts of Africa and the Caribbean.

In Britain, Australia, Canada, the United States and the majority of European and Latin American nations, many homosexuals and lesbians, freed from the criminalisation of their sexual preferences, have risen to the top of their careers. Many are captains of industries, government ministers, leading sports persons and even members of the armed forces doing duty in dangerous places such as Iraq and Afghanistan. In the Caribbean, however, homosexuals are marginalised and the majority remain hidden, terrified of the consequences of “coming out”.

Caribbean governments face serious difficulties over this issue. There is a strong prejudice in societies based on both a lack of education and reluctance to engage the issue in public fora. The Churches in the Caribbean are the most unyielding, constraining political parties from adopting a more enlightened and modern-day view of the matter.

The facts indicate that 60 million people worldwide have been infected with HIV and 33.3 million presently live with the virus. Over 60 per cent of the people living with HIV reside in Commonwealth countries. The region with the highest rate of HIV/AIDS per capita is the Caribbean. In this sense, the problem for the Caribbean is one of human rights and public health.

Homosexuals who live under the risk of flogging and jail are reluctant to reveal themselves if and when they become HIV-infected. Consequently, they are left untreated and the disease spreads and eventually they die, although the real cause of death is usually hidden.

In any event, the laws criminalising homosexuality are depriving the Caribbean of the use of remarkably talented people in all fields of life who could be contributing to the development and prosperity of every Caribbean country. Some homosexuals have already emerged — despite the laws and the stigma — as outstanding Caribbean citizens, revered not only in the region but in other parts of the world, but they have been persons of great courage and unquestionable ability. Others have simply fallen by the wayside, or are living lives of lies.

On the eve of the CHOGM in Perth, Helen Clark, the head of the United Nations Development Programme, wrote to Commonwealth leaders pointing out that “it is important and urgent” for them “to promote and secure the repeal of the discriminatory laws which impede effective national HIV responses”. She called for “legislative initiatives and programmes which will repeal discriminatory laws” that “can not only turn back the HIV epidemic, but also improve the health and development of their citizens”.

She urged leaders “to seize this opportunity for the Commonwealth to turn a corner in preventing and controlling HIV by embracing the proposals to repeal laws which impede effective HIV responses”.

In part, it was to this urging that the British prime minister was responding when he spoke in the BBC interview of the need to repeal discriminatory laws.

The issue will not go away. Britain’s linking of General Budget Aid to respect for human rights is one response. Others will follow in different ways. As the international community sees it, homosexuals and lesbians are entitled to rights too, as long as they do not affect the rights and preferences of others.

The Caribbean will have to face up to that reality — as most of the rest of the world has. The best way to start is by informed public discussion.

Sir Ronald Sanders is an international consultant and former Caribbean diplomat

Responses and other commentaries at: http://www.sirronaldsanders.com

Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Gays-have-rights-too–The-Caribbean-dilemma_10145250#ixzz1daF6EtCs

my two cents – Homosexuality is Not Illegal in Jamaica …. Buggery is despite the persons gender 12.11.11