Brother pleads with UK Government to halt lesbian sister’s deportation …………..

According to the voice in the UK a Jamaican woman is to face deportation but she is a member of the same gender loving community women seem to have had issues in gaining asylum overall although we cannot judge so easily as each case has to be taken on its own merit but seeing that men who have sex with men are more vulnerable to homophobic violence in Jamaica they have far more cases pending, successful and deportations than the women do.

However as I have tried to point out before there has been a sharp increase in lesbophobic violence to include the previously thought African phenomenon of corrective rape, forced evictions and displacements.

Have a read of the item from the Voice first excerpted below:

‘My Sister Will Be Killed If She Is Sent Back To Jamaica’

A WEST YORKSHIRE man says his lesbian sister will be killed if she is sent back to Jamaica and is urging immigration officials to reconsider a decision to deport her.

Home

Nestfield Lopez, 24, from Leeds, told The Voice that homophobia in the Caribbean country is rife and claims that his sibling will be targeted because of her sexuality.

He said: ”We all know what Jamaicans think of gays.”

“We’ve got terrorists here that are making suicide bombs. They’ve been in prison, they come out and they can’t deport them because of human rights. What about her human rights? That’s the frustrating thing about it,” he continued.

His sister, 22-year-old, Coletane Lopez, was detained by the UK Border Agency on March 20 after her human rights application was denied.

Acting on legal advice, she had gone to Lunar House in Croydon, Surrey, where immigration claims are processed, to seek asylum for protection, but was handcuffed and transferred to Yarl’s Wood Detention Centre in Bedfordshire, where she is currently awaiting deportation.

Mr Lopez, who was unaware that his sister was gay until last December, has begun a petition to stop the process but claims her health is deteriorating day by day.

“We had a visit with her and she’s lost loads of weight. She hasn’t been eating.

She’s been worried. At one point she wanted to commit suicide. She said I’m going to kill myself because if I get sent home, I’m going to get killed anyway.”

Her deportation has been placed in the fast track system, which means she can be removed from the country within four to seven days of her case being decided.

The siblings first came to the UK with their family in 2000. Last year their parents were removed and sent back to Jamaica, but Mr Lopez, who is married with two young children, has been granted the right to remain because his partner is a British national.

Mr Lopez says that his sister will have nowhere to go if she is returned to Jamaica because even his parents refuse to accept his sister because of her sexuality.

He said: “Every time I speak to my dad, we have an argument. He says, ‘have you not thrown her out yet? Don’t give her any money and don’t look after her. You should choke her and kill her’. That’s what he’s saying to me. I’m like, ‘that’s your daughter!’ But he says, ‘Oh no. I don’t have no daughter anymore. That’s what I have to deal with!”

The Voice contacted the UK Border Agency for their response. A spokesperson said: “We do not routinely comment on individual cases.”

ENDS

In continuing on the issue of displacements for SGL women due to lesbophobia women by virtue of being more social creatures in the Jamaican context easily find informal hosting services within the community or with family members as some cases have shown as lesbianism is tolerated locally than male homosexuality. Sadly in this case as excerpted above shows there maybe a serious cause for concerns and as I said above each case has to be taken on its own merit but we must also remember the reputation Jamaica on a whole has in places like the United Kingdom where we have flouted rules, committed crimes and so on.

Our cases are treated with far more scrutiny based on my limited experience with the border agency in times gone by but how do we assist persons who legitimately need to leave the island due to threats against their person?

We have seen successful cases on the other hand such as a sister who was bipolar some years ago who was brutally raped several times over by thugs (including a cousin allegedly) in her inner city community with what seemed to be tacit support from other thugs in the area at the time, she was successful however in gaining asylum in the UK in 2010, another sister who was threatened with arson of her flat in another area due to her butch mystique as it were as she wore masculine clothes and was clearly a gender non conformist given the scheme of things.

And as for advocacy for same gender loving women in Jamaica well that is much to be desired with groups such as JFLAG and a smaller outfit known as Women for Women (WFW) but since male homosexuality and the attendant issues are engaged far more with a view to repealing the buggery law which is understandable women’s issues get glossed over even in the face of the aforementioned increases in violence and stigma to sgl women especially the members or self identified butches who are seen as a threat to men in Jamaica as they are accused of taking away women from over machismo worshipping men.

We hope there is a follow up on this story so we can know the outcome of this case and how the sister is fearing out.

Additional reading from a previous post on sister blog GLBTQJA on Blogger:
Jamaica lesbians suffer from under-reported violence but whose fault is that ???

here are two pieces of audio commentary I had done in 2011 also expressing concerns about the inequality in the handling of same gender loving women’s issues versus msms and the murder of two lesbians late last year as well:

Lesbian issues left out of the Jamaican advocacy thrust until now? 

plus

2 SGL WOMEN LOST, CORRECTIVE RAPE & VIRTUAL SILENCE FROM THE MALE DOMINATED ADVOCACY STRUCTURE

Peace and tolerance

H

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Sizzla cancelled yet again in Belgium

Reggae musician Sizzla has had the Swedish leg of his European tour cancelled on account of the anti-gay lyrics which feature in his music for a second time in Belgium …… see a previous post:

Sizzla Cancelled in Belgium

Sizzla Kalonji was scheduled to perform later this month in Stockholm but public condemnation of the artist, whose lyrics have incited violence against gay people, led organisers to call off the date, The Local reports.

Other concerts in the tour are still planned for Italy, France, Belgium, Norway, the Netherlands and Spain.

Concerts by Sizzla have been cancelled in the UK in 2004 and in Toronto in 2007.

In 2008, he was denied a visa for the 29 European countries then signed up to the Schengen agreement after a German LGBT group appealed to their government. Sizzla was stopped at Madrid airport that year and returned to the US.

In July 2007, Sizzla and numerous other acts signed up to the Reggae Compassionate Act in a deal brokered with top reggae promoters and Stop Murder Music activists.

The Act reads: “It must be clear there’s no space in the music community for hatred and prejudice, including no place for racism, violence, sexism or homophobia.

photo taken from a previous post on GLBTQJA on blogger where in 2010 Sizzla was pressured by activists lobbying promoters to remove murder music artists. See: Sizzla Concert Cancelled from Chiemsee Reggae & Austrian Sunsplash Shows

“We do not encourage nor minister to HATE but rather uphold a philosophy of LOVE, RESPECT and UNDERSTANDING towards all human beings as the cornerstone of reggae.

“We agree to not make statements or perform songs that incite hatred or violence against anyone from any community.”

But he later went on to deny ever having signed the pact. The Local now reports that the appearance at Stockholm was titled “The Reggae Compassionate Act”, though it is not clear this morning why the name had been chosen.

The European tour dates are believed to be Sizzla’s first major appearances since a motorcycle accident late last year led to widespread reports he had died.

In August 2010 he was scheduled to perform in Belgium as well at RIDER’S PARK in Massancy, In 2001 in particular, he chanted, for example: «Shot battybwoy, my big gun boom» («Shoot queers, my big gun goes boom»). Few weeks after apparently having signed the REGGAE COMPASSIONATE ACT (RCA) in 2007, which was supposed to have put a stop to such statements, he performed the title «Nah Apologize» («No excuses for buggers»).

On my sister blog Gay Jamaica Watch just some weeks before I had posted a petition to put pressure on the artists who have strong anti gay lyrics in their music and chief among them was Sizzla himself who has not recanted or seems to have softened on his position despite pressure placed on him, he recently played a club in Kingston in acoustic fashion but no anti gay tunes were reported to have been voiced in that show.

see the post here: Say No To Hate Music Petition for anti gay artists where the news of the petition is also available.

One would have thought that artists such as this would have learnt by now but to think he is described as a reggae act when he does predominantly dancehall songs. It is dancehall that the problem of homophobic lyrics mostly emanate as reggae acts unfortunately have been made to bear the pressure sadly as they are not involved for the most part in direct hate lyrics although some say the silence on their part is consent in support of the artists who make and deliver such hate songs.

Seeing that Europe also predominantly consumes more Jamaican music overall than even we do here in terms of sales and response maybe the LGBT lobby locally and internationally needs to strike a balance and be fair in while opposing hate or murder music as it is known we also encourage real reggae that is clean and uplifting so as not to harm the entire industry as is perceived by our detractors. In recent times though we have seen reggae acts also releasing more subtle materials using the word “burn” instead of kill which also suggest anti gay sentiments.

One such act was I-Wayne when in October 2011 his last album “Life Teachings” the title track is a huge hit about empowerment and thinking but some Rastafarian artists usually have great songs as debuts that is until the Sodom/anti gay bit comes into the mix then the claws come out or in this case the fireball(s).He has a track entitled “Burn down Sodom (5:30)” on the disc where he supposedly hits back at gay adoptions, procreation while linking male homosexuality to paedophilia, a common mistake that feeds our homo-negativity and by extension strong homophobia. Read more here:  I-Wayne’s “Burn Out Sodom” hits at gay adoption, homosexuality & accuses msms of paedophilia

Excerpts from the lyrics are clear what this song is about of course when one sees the words “Burn” and “Sodom” or “Fire” in the same sentence be they in song, written or the spoken word then look out there is bound to be trouble for same gender loving people.  Lyrics include (in patois and translated in part below)

  • Dem a drop dem fadda back, people good good pickney dem adopt
They are erasing their bloodline, not having own children but instead adopting other children (hinting at homosexualiisng children)
  • Baybylon you wrong you wrong you can’t live long then
Babylon you’re wrong you cant live long then (suggesting finality for gays)
  • Wicked promote the freaky girls and nasty man dem
The wicked are promoting freaky girls (lesbians) and nasty men (gays)

additional reading on Stop Murder Music from 2010:
Gays Move to Ban Reggae/Dancehall in Germany says the Xtranews where German authorities including a gay MP joined the discourse as reported in the now defunct XNews tabloid.

Peace and tolerance

H

UPDATE March 27.03.12

please see: Sizzla Hits Back At Gay Rights Critics …………..

More Homo Negative News: Gay Tenants anger neighbours ………….

Following on the recent problems at the new Mass Camp venue and the current carnival/soca season with supposed unruly gay men allegedly gyrating on each other in public and dancing the latest feminine dancehall moves has come news of cohabitation issues which after some research has included members of the displaced populations that I have repeatedly on this blog and others expressed concerns about, the fallout has become public yet again.

Also see from GLBTQJA on Blogger:  Homo-negativity in public: So called Unruly gays chased from party (as captioned in the cartoon)

First take a look at the comprehensive report by the Star News (far more detailed and seemingly well written than previous gay themed entries from the tabloid) as published March 22, 2012:

A group of tenants who reside at an apartment complex in upper St Andrew are hoping to be rescued from the presence of a group of homosexual occupants who they say are menacing.

“Everybody in yah a complain,” an exasperated tenant explained to THE STAR.

The residents, who were evidently frustrated, told our news team that they have reached boiling point, and can no longer live among the six effeminate males who they say reside in an apartment which is designated to accommodate only two persons.

Furthermore, the tenant’s point of the number of occupants living in an apartment at any given time limited to two persons was substantiated by a clause in a document which illustrates the rules of living in the apartment complex, titled , The Rules of the Proprietors’ Strata Plan.

THE STAR was issued a copy of the document which outlined in Clause No. Nine that studio apartments are not to be occupied by more than two persons on a permanent basis.

Meanwhile, tenants say they want something to be done immediately because they can no longer stomach the distasteful activities of the six.

“Dem(JPS) cut off them light and NWC cut off dem water so a inna the washroom them a bathe and a carry back water to dem apartment,” one resident explained.

He added how upset he is with the practice of his neighbours using the washroom as a makeshift bathroom because it is a central point for laundry for all occupants of the apartment.

” From dem start bathe in deh … nobody no go back in deh go wash cause we no know weh dem have ” he added.

Additionally, THE STAR was told that the men walk about throughout the apartment dressed in female underwear having no consideration for others who may find the sight disturbing.

contraband

Furthermore, the tenants allege that the six are also frequent smokers of marijuana and continue to use the contraband even though it is a health hazard to non-smokers.

“Is just ganja dem smoke, ganja, ganja, ganja and we can’t take it,” another annoyed resident outlined.

Interestingly, the document also clearly states in Clause No. Three that the apartment is to be used for residential purposes only and should not be used for any purpose which may be illegal or injurious to the reputation of the complex.

The residents told THE STAR that they have written several letters documenting their concerns to the landlady but nothing has been done to date to address the matter even though Clause No. 18 supports their right to illustrate their grouses.

The clause reads, landlords to whom malpractice’s of tenants are reported by management are expected to take disciplinary action, including dismissal of the tenants if the offence warrants this.

All attempts to contact the landlady proved futile.

Meanwhile, THE STAR sought legal advice from attorney-at-law Marjorie Shaw about the actions, if any, that could be taken by the tenants against their neighbours.

Shaw explained that under the Rent Restriction Act, the annoyed occupants could not take action without the cooperation of the landlady.

“In order for the landlord to remove the tenants,they would have to issue them with a notice to quit the property, and issue them one month’s rental notice,” she said. Nonetheless, she outlined that the distraught tenants would have to seek abatement by putting forward a claim of nuisance before the court. “It will fall upon the occupants of the apartment to get relief on a basis of nuisance,” she said.

ENDS

There is some truth to this one this time around as some of the occupants of the apartment as indicated in my introduction were aligned to and were a part of the displaced and homeless msm communities who have since found some hosting assistance from friends, this set of problems could very well be attributed to the disturbing and continued lack of concern for solutions by the lgbt advocacy structures around this section of our population. This is not the first time we have had incidents and newspaper/tabloid reports of behavioural issues by msms in residential areas leading to fallout. Just some months ago we saw the public detention on television on men in a St Catherine scheme and another incident just under a month now in the Syndenham area where some men who shared a house and who also hosted friends were forcibly evicted by the owner and other neighbours as complaints came of noise, ganja smoking and what was described other anti social behaviour.

Certainly we have to take a serious look at this recurring decimal especially when it involves more street savy members of our community who are used to a certain modus operandi versus those who host them at rented flats and houses, the combination is not working out well in our favour in the long run as it gives license I believe to anti gay action, homo-negativity and subsequently homophobia. Also the problem of profiling is well established here just by the report, how do we know that all the alleged gays are indeed gay, we have had instances where heterosexual friends or even family members also share living space with gay persons and are quite tolerant but they get grouped as gay when trouble hits. The issue of other tenants refusing to use the wash-room albeit if the allegations are true that the men use the area as a make shift bathroom suggesting the men have HIV hence the scorn element comes in.

Talk on the street is the men should be evicted as they are nasty and the usual anti gay sentiments, here is another example of where we need to improve living conditions for lgbt people and execising proper restraint or decorum in order to exist peacefully. Sometimes we make it bad for ourselves too I must admit. Some influentials are trying to see what they can do with regards to this situation.

Peace and tolerance

H

Alleged Lesbian Coercers in school – Should Get Proper Help – Expert ………

In a follow up to an explosive story being pushed as if the teenaged same sex active females are predators by a previous Gleaner story at a prominent high school has come a response by the paper quoting some suggestions by experts on how to handle the perceived problem, what is instructive is the seeming panic and paranoia setting in yet when initiation and perceived abuses happens in coed institutions and in full view of the public as we see everyday the experts, school and principal bodies and administrations were quiet all these years as they continued but as soon as the “homosexual problem’ turns up everyone cries wolf.

What hypocrisy, one wonders if it weren’t a prominent high school we would be having this fear masked as concern? look through the smoke people and decide for yourselves. Isolated incidents should not be presented as a wide practice by same gender loving people.

Here is the article from today’s Gleaner:

Girls Should Get Proper Help – Expert

Nadisha Hunter, Gleaner Staff Reporter

At least one expert is advising that professional help should be given to the younger girls who were victims of sexual attacks by their older schoolmates at some schools as the issue could have a major psychological impact on the students’ lives.

Psychologist Dr Karen Richards told The Gleaner yesterday that action should also be taken against the perpetrators highlighted last week at an all-girls school in the Corporate Area, as the attacks should not be taken lightly.

“Counselling and some form of professional intervention should be made available should the child be willing to engage. The parents may need some input, helping them to know how best to deal with it and the individual child might need some support,” Richard said.

“We can’t excuse these practices as just kids together establishing their boundaries, having fun. No, these are assaults and these are things that you could never do in a workplace, you could never do out there on the streets without finding yourself in trouble with the law and the law therefore must reflect that to these children,” she argued.

Rite of passage

In explaining the behaviour of the students involved in the act, Richards said the youths are at an age where there is often a rite of passage.

“The students use the activity to prove themselves as worthy by submitting the most to this abuse. It is really a rite of passage to belong to the group. You have got to suffer and those in the group determine what kind of suffering those out of the group must go through in order to be a part of the group,” she said.

Richards said she has had cases where children have been sexually assaulted by older children but the cases had to be examined carefully as oftentimes the perpetrators have themselves been victims of sexual abuse.

In the meantime, the Paediatric Association of Jamaica said assistance must be provided for the students involved because, as adolescents make the often difficult transition into adulthood, they have many developmental issues to face, one of which is developing their sexual identity and learning how to have age-appropriate relationships.

Experimental behaviours

“During middle adolescence (approximately 14-16 years of age) in particular, many adolescents as they try to understand themselves, may become involved in experimental behaviours with either the opposite or the same sex.

“During this time, adolescents can benefit tremendously from the presence of understanding adults who can appropriately guide them as they make choices, and help them to learn from their decisions,” the association said.

The group recommended the creation of an open forum to foster useful discussion and solutions for the students.

“This may benefit adolescents who find themselves uncertain with respect to their sexuality and earnestly seeking some kind of guidance in what can be a really difficult time,” the group added.

The association said it was the responsibility of the state, school and parent-teachers association when they accept the care of the children to provide a safe environment.

“This would allow our children to mature, and achieve their full potential to the benefit of themselves, their families and the nation. The vulnerable must be protected and the perpetrators counselled and healed,” the group added.

nadisha.hunter@gleanerjm.com

ENDS

I am pleased however someone mentioned the experimental stage and rites of passage as I hinted to in layman’s terms in my previous posts since the story broke both HERE and on my sister blog GLBTQ Jamaica on Blogger, see
Principal Association to address “lesbian issue” in prominent high school.

In talks with a qualified psychologist in the community yesterday she suggested that she was concerned the girls were being placed in a light of being predators she also said ”  ……if you’re trying to fuel and poison the environment against lesbians, then suggesting that they’re abnormal, freakish and need to be punished via the law or even kicked out of school is the way to go.”

She proposed that  what needs to happen “is a very frank conversation with girls about their sexualities. Children are not taught about why coercion and violence is not ok in the first place. They learn that it is thru how they see adults interacting. So there’s no reason for most to see that “holding someone down” is not fun and games, but violence. They also don’t know how to respect and protect themselves at the same time. 

So when a topic is made taboo, it means that the obnoxious kids get even more power from rebelling and from making everyone afraid. 

I think the situation is somewhat exaggerated but also complicated. I suspect that some of the girls are afraid of “lesbians” because of what they hear around them. And some of the girls who are not lesbians but who are harassing the others are just bullies. The way people tell stories is very confused and you have to ask the right questions to get at what really happened. For the principals to call in the authorities shows how stupid and prejudiced they are; they want to punish the girls for being “out of order” ie. homoreotic behaviour. Look how long it takes for any principal to act on the boys feeling up and being inappropriate with girls!!!

It’s just amazing to me how students AND staff at a school can be so clueless about adolescent development and how to solve conflicts. Tells me that the content of education is definitely lacking all around.”

A similar suggestion I had questioned in my blogger post linked above.  I think this issue and sexuality in general needs to be looked at squarely at the Ministry of Education policy level devoid of panic and fear but while cognisant of the possibility of sexual abuse indeed.

 Children’s advocate Diane Gordon Harrison

Meanwhile the Office of the Children’s Advocate OCA in a release said they have grave concerns about younger girls being preyed upon by older ones, the prevalence of homosexuality has serious implications, they continued that while the newspaper article spoke to the problem in all girls schools it is concerned about anecdotal mention of homosexual activity in all boys schools such sexual behaviours exposes children to serious implications which they may not be aware of, the Children’s advocate Diane Gordon Harrison says there needs to be a public education campaign to sensitize children to these risks, there are legal implications and consequences that can flow when students engage other students in sexual activity.

They also are recommending an open discussion on sexual activity in schools by stakeholders and some form of policy imperative to follow.

Way back in 2006 allegations were that adult lesbians were visiting schools and at that time the JFLAG representative was reported to have said that no disciplinary action should be taken against the gay girls. “They should counsel them if this is what they are, but advise them that certain things are prohibited.”

However, the JFLAG repre-sentative condemned the actions of lesbians who are allegedly visiting the campuses and openly displaying their orientation.

“No one should do that. You can’t stay on the premises and do that. I don’t agree with older women going onto the campus to entice girls to do whatever with them.”

However, she said that if that is being allowed to happen on campus, school security is not performing up to par.

She disclosed that her organisation approached several schools “to give information and seminars, but they wouldn’t have it.” She believes that if permission were granted to stage the seminars, the girls would be better able to deal with the uncomfortable situation.

see: Lesbians in schools – Growing number of homosexuals in Corporate Area all girls’ high schools  

and also see High school girls gone gay!   

also see a previous post on Homosexuality in schools in St Lucia where a similar set or circumstances presented themselves with lesbian activity in a high school and how mature the response was: Homosexuality in schools in St. Lucia

Peace and tolerance

H

Attack at an LGBT party in western Jamaica ………………

A party which was hosted by two same gender loving females as thought which occurred on Tuesday March 6th an unusual day in the week for a party as our events do not happen mid-week but on a Friday, Saturday and sometimes on a Sunday if it precedes a public holiday was the scene of attacks, fear and homophobic slurs by persons allegedly aligned to the event. The party which was held on the western end of the island was a birthday celebration and several uninvited male guests turned up who were friends of one of the security detail who was hired it was suspected that they eventually assumed it was a freaky affair with lesbians present so they turned up according to reports.

As the male patrons from our community began to arrive however mostly dressed not in usual masculine garb and upon reaching the security check point they were heavily scrutinised and cross questioned especially one who was dressed in pink who was harassed by the men who inquired what were they doing there? As more guests arrived including regular patrons of lgbt events it was clear that an air unease was present as persons saw the strange faced men who were in no mood to entertain effeminate males, other female guests also were uncomfortable as the men began to openly hurl homophobic slurs and threats, it was also alleged that men had guns at the time of the event but was not substantiated by my sources. The men threatened other male guests who arrived that they would have been shot as they do not belong there in typical Jamaican parlance . Word quickly spread to other patrons via messenging services and blackberry who were either getting ready for the event or making their way that they should turn around and head home, some however braved the reported threat and turned up in true defiant fashion as many of these patrons are seasoned ones who have been through extraordinary events like this before and know how to respond.

One male patron managed to escape the men as he surmised something was wrong the moment he drove in and was being directed to park by the unofficial valets, one of the valets upon seeing it was a man aboard he lashed out that no more men should be there as ” ….battyman fi dead, a weh unu a go?” etc. the would be patron took evasive action by turning on his headlights on full bright to temporarily blind his attackers and floored the gas pedal of his vehicle making good his escape as they dove for safety away from the fast approaching vehicle. One other male patron was not so lucky according to reports as he was chased after a verbal spat with one of the unofficial security detail and his uninvited friends who were on the prowl.

The patron ran and hid in nearby bushes then covertly making his way back to the motor vehicle under the cover of darkness and through shrubbery timing the movements of the unofficial valets darting between other cars then managing to reach his vehicle, disarming the alarm then starting his engine, he then messaged his other friend who had arrived with him who fortunately had made his way out of the immediate party venue as things heated up, the driver then drove out and met the friend at an agreed spot sent in a previous message, they both left where he reportedly attended to his injuries at the friend’s house.

Other drag divas who passed easily as females were spared the initial horror but as the party progressed before its premature end the thugs present were obviously examining patrons by making their way through the crowd, the “girls” eventually subdued their dancing and stuff during the night so as to avoid any untoward and unwelcomed moves by the thugs and eventually left as quietly as they could. Reports also suggest the DJ at the time was being coerced into playing anti gay lyrics but the hosts of the event would have none of it at the time when the attempts were made to do so as they tried to calm the fears of those present while other activity were taking place behind the scenes.

Other  minor skirmishes were said to have occurred as other patrons just wanted to have a good time and argued with the security detail and their thug friends to allow persons who were invited to enter freely no matter who they were as the hosts of the event also had gay friends but this did not go down well with some members of the thug group who said they would have no battyman around (noticeably lesbians were not targeted for attack both verbal or physical) There was one reported physical exchange as a male patron who was reiterating the message of acceptance of non conforming guests was slapped in the face he reportedly return blows to his attacker and reminded him in a few choice words where he was from etc.

The even reportedly ended well before the normal time that it should have as under regular circumstances.

This incident in my mind brings the need to be vigilant despite the level of comfort we feel these days in attending same gender loving hosted events although we have not had any serious mishap such as this in years, the last one that came to mind was that awful picketing and bonfire by neighbours at a venue in Kingston where tyres were lit just by the gate and photographs were taken of patrons by persons hiding in the trees by the perimeter fence and motor vehicles that were parked on the outside as no parking was allowed on the property where the party progressed.

Thankfully the Half Way Tree Police who myself and the event’s host visited and filed a report which they took and accompanied us to the venue, they ordered the fire be put out by the picketers and that patrons must not be interfered with upon leaving the venue peacefully given a 20 feet distance be maintained, this of course after the party was stopped and the equipment secured and packed.

The picketers however continued ……….. taken from the post on sister blog Gay Jamaica Watch on February 16 2010 entitled High Drama as Homophobes attempt to disrupt and picket party –  “The protest apparently stemmed from a party that was held the week before which at its climax had a very public altercation between several patrons of that event, that event indeed was a gay party as I was in attendance but left before the damming proceedings unfolded. The immediate neighbours said that they were upset at last week’s public brawl on the streets and demanded that no other “dutty, nasty Battyman and sodomite come bout yah” (dirty nasty gay men and sodomites come here) the leading female protester said. The host of the current event that was being picketed tried to defuse the situation several times by explaining to the protestors that she only knew of the previous week’s incident in detail on the same night of finalizing her event and couldn’t be held accountable for that. She said she was assured that all would have been well by the respective parties involved in its organizing. The protesters however went into overdrive saying that they didn’t care about that and we must move our nastiness elsewhere among other unmentionables inclusive of expletives.

I strongly suspect that they never expected the patronage to stay their ground and basically ignore their agitation outside the precincts of the private property bearing in mind the owner was present. While we must respect the right of freedom of speech/peaceful protest, igniting a fire just at the entrance to private property is way out of place and the hurling of threats and abusive remarks dotted with plagiaristic lines to look as if they are tolerant to a point but …. That never impressed me. As one patron commented we are here and we all are going to have to learn to live together and stop this foolishness one day. The action as how it unfolded was totally uncalled for. “

The other that came to mind as well was that stoning in Stony Hill some seven years ago after an event at a venue next to Boone Hall was invaded by curious persons living nearby who heard the music and were enthralled, a river that ran just alongside the property where the event was hosted separated it from a hillside squatting community, they soon realised it was not the normal dancehall typed gig as have happened there before (by mainstream promoters) and notified other persons who lay in wait when nervous patrons realised there was trouble and started to leave, almost every car that left that night upon reaching the only narrow road exit to go to Stony Hill square was stoned with many owners suffering serious damage with broken wind-shields and dented areas, while mostly men could be seen cheering and jeering panicking patrons as they left with stones still being hurled at other vehicles making their way out the venue.

Please encourage all you know and even yourself that when going to lgbt planned and hosted events find out and try to do the following:

Who is hosting

Where is the venue and safety (try to get some guarantees)

Make sure hosts have a track record of previous successful gigs

Scope the area upon arrival at the venue, look for suspicious characters

Be on your guard as this incident proves we cannot be complacent and my nearly two decades of being in the lgbt party business as a DJ, promoter and planner I urge you not to take matters lightly.

Peace and tolerance

H

Lesbians & Learning – Situtational Homosexuality at a Kgn All Girls School ?

The following article appeared in the Gleaner originally entitled:

Lesbians And Learning – Younger Students Under Siege At Corporate Area All-Girls School

But is this a case of experimentation or situational homosexuality as occurs in spaces where same sexed persons co-exist for extended periods? Have a read of the article first then see my comments below –

Authorities at a prominent Corporate Area all-girls high school are reportedly struggling to deal with several sexual attacks on young girls by older students.

School authorities on Wednesday summoned parents to an emergency meeting as more and more young girls started reporting horror stories of cases where they were forced to perform sexual acts with the older girls.

The Gleaner understands that some girls in the upper school usually endeavour to recruit the young girls from the first and second forms.

A parent who attended the meeting told The Gleaner that a plethora of issues were discussed.

“They called the emergency meeting yesterday (Wednesday) to address the behavioural patterns of students in the school,” the parent said.

Circulating porn

The parent added that they were told the children were “circulating pornography and a lot of things”.

The parent also said the acting principal and the teachers were very frustrated with what was happening at the school.

“Lesbianism is so rampant at the school in the bathrooms. I’m very, very concerned,” the worried parent said.

A senior student, who spoke with The Gleaner, revealed that the pornography being circulated was that of a grade-10 student performing oral sex on an adult male.

The student, who reportedly recorded the sex act, sent it to her peers via Bluetooth.

The student said the lesbianism problem at the school was getting out of control with increasingly more public displays of affection, even in front of faculty members.

“The lesbians are just getting prime. They don’t really care,” the student said.

The student explained that a recent decision to move the grade-seven girls from a block that was in proximity to the grade-11 block was spawned by the fact that the upper-school girls were preying on the lower-school girls.

“When they are ready, they lock up the seven-grade bathroom and you can’t get in. When you open the door, it is fifth-form girls in there,” she said.

The senior student said some of the girls openly admit that they are lesbians and others say they are bisexual.

Use of force

Another student explained that some fifth-form students use force to sexually molest some first-formers and the situation is now of major concern at the institution.

“The older girls are having sex with the younger girls by force. It is not the first time it is happening. The lesbians them a go on bad,” she said.

A parent who said she was aware of the situation was quick to point out that the parents need to play their part.

“The practice is getting out of control but instead of labelling the students, persons should instead try to assist. The situation is a crisis at the school but it is really a testing of faith,” one parent said.

“We have to try to guide them at home. They can change, they just need our guidance,” she added.

The Gleaner spoke with a group of girls yesterday who appeared to be on lunch break. They too confirmed the reports of lesbianism at the institution.

Some of the girls said it was something that has been going on at the school for a long time.

“I know about it. I am not sure of the details but it is not something new. It has been going on for a long time and the girls are not giving it up,” one of the girls said.

Students scared

However, some students said they did not know about the activity while others seemed too scared to talk to the media as they would neither confirm nor deny the reports.

A parent said: “Come this morning, the solution was that they would take away all the BlackBerry phones because that is what they have been using to circulate the pornography.”

She added: “One parent said her daughter saw two girls making out in the bathroom.”

The parent also disclosed that the acting principal said the school could not take action against the girls’ activities without concrete evidence.

She said the acting principal gave a toll-free number for students and parents to call with information without revealing their identities.

“Really and truly, I don’t want my daughter to get lost in the system,” the parent said.

When The Gleaner contacted the acting principal for an official response, she declined to comment, claiming she was unaware of such a situation and that the meeting held on Wednesday was just a regular parent-teacher association meeting. It had been reported last year that lesbianism was a growing challenge in the education system, especially at some all-girls institutions.President of the Jamaica Association of Guidance Counsellors in Education, Dr Grace Kelly, had said the matter was significant and called for attention.

ENDS

But some more questions come to mind for me as previous media reports similar in nature without any follow up always leave me puzzled

The Star News also carried a VERY similar story in October 2011 posted HERE on GLBTQ Jamaica

Are these females in an experimental stage of their sexual development, thus practicing same sex activity?
Were the first formers actually sexually assaulted and were they taken to a doctor for an examination or the police?
Are the schools’ guidance counselling systems providing the wrong kind of counselling to the so called victims when they maybe lesbians indeed?
Are the schools’ overlooking the sexual orientation issues of the girls involved?
Are female teachers also guilty of forced initiation to female students in some single sexed institutions as well as we have seen in heterosexual scenarios where male students make moves on female students?
Are the alleged older fondlers actually lesbians or are they just exercising psychological  intimidation over the younger students while using fondling as an embarrassing ploy?
If this turns out to be true do instances like this weaken the case for tolerance and make the perception of the “homosexual lifestyle” as predatory more cemented in the minds of detractors?
Should sexual orientation be looked at seriously by the Ministry of Education and the Guidance Counseling bodies in as far as dealing with lgbt teens, early initiation and peer pressure for sexual activity? 
Could the females described here be actually transmen (FTM – female to male preoperative transgender) acting out or mimicking the societal masculine roles as done by men locally to “hunt” young teens and beautiful women?
But with an education system devoid of really engaging sexuality and same sex issues squarely will we ever get the right answers outside of this and having to rely on a newspaper’s story? Is there a thin line between experimentation and predatory behaviour here?
It was earlier last year that the Observer published an article by Janice Budd claiming lesbian gangs were terrorizing schools  in May of this year there was some panic created as well by the Jamaica Association of Guidance Counselors in Education (JAGE) when its President Dr. Grace Kelly created a stir by making several comments on the issue, among other things a Gleaner story byNadisha Hunter summed it up – “There is a challenge in the schools and the guidance association is aware of it,” she said.”What we continue to do is to provide counselling and support for these children, and to ensure that we provide them access to proper information, and through the guidance and counselling sessions, the students are given an opportunity to understand and appreciate their sexuality,” Dr Kelly added.She noted that while it has not reached the stage where any matter had to be referred to a psychiatrist or psychologist, she was aware that cases have been referred to other persons in the education setting because of the nature. Also See: Sex therapist Dr Sidney McGill says “Lesbianism is on the rise in Jamaica & world-wide with even young girls in co-ed schools preferring other girls” from my sister blog GLBTQ Jamaica on blogger.
A talk show host suggested that parents of the aggrieved students sue the school for endangering the morals of children as the school is negligent in allowing this issue to happen although he (Ronald Mason of Nationwide News) also suggested students should be given condoms as their actions cannot be managed on a 24hr basis so they should be afforded the protection needed so as to avoid contracting STIs and HIV.
Issues such as this JFLAG also need to wake up from slumber and deal with as same gender loving female activity perceived or not are grossly overlooked for years by the NGO and with calls from the former President of the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship President to have lesbian sex criminalised as well one wonders when are they going to wake up?
Update 11.03.12 – Now a press release from the J 11.03.12 entitled: J-FLAG CONDEMNS SEXUAL COERCION AND CALLS ON SCHOOLS ADMINISTRATORS TO DIALOGUE, this response to me shows the the lack of forward thinking and understanding of initiation, situational homosexuality and experimentation issues. Then again SGL women’s issues were never something they have dealt with effectively.
Peace and tolerance
H

Yes and No Support on Buggery Issue in Antigua …………..

Antigua St John’s – The newly appointed Roman Catholic bishop’s call for the decriminalization of buggery is not finding favour with other church leaders.

Since Bishop Kenneth Richards’ statement on radio last Friday, at least one church leader, Rev Carlwin Greenaway, superintendent of the Methodist Church, has distanced himself from the suggestion.

Now, chairman of the Provincial Elders Conference of the Eastern West Indies Province of the Moravian Church, Rev Dr Cortroy Jarvis, also wants to disagree.

“I am surprised that we seem to be re-introducing things that I thought we had settled long ago,” he said. “I totally disagree with the call to decriminalize buggery, for I feel that once that happens, it would open up the door to a lot of other things.”

Rev Jarvis added that should buggery be removed as a criminal act, this would open the door for homosexuality to “raise its head” in the open with boldness.

“You cannot control what happens in a person’s bedroom, but there has to be a moral compass for our society,” he said. “People should know what acceptable behaviour is and what is not.”

The PEC chairman noted that the Bible is very clear on the issue of homosexuality. “In Leviticus 20 verse 13 it states: ‘If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall be put to death: their blood shall be upon them.’ While I think the second part of the passage is harsh in today’s context, it shows the seriousness with which the subject is treated from a biblical perspective,” Rev Jarvis explained.

He added that the “real picture,” as stated in the Bible, is for a man and a woman, and not man and man. He does not see any justification for repealing the laws.

“I don’t see any open discrimination against homosexuals in the society,” the reverend said. “We have been living with them amongst us for a long time. Because adultery was illegal at one time and now it is not, is not a strong enough justification in my view.”

According to Rev Jarvis, if the laws against buggery were lifted, this would strike a “serious blow” against morality. “We have enough serious problems to contend with in the country than to consider things such as lifting the laws against buggery,”  he said.

However just some days before another Bishop said he supported the repeal on the island:

The newly installed Roman Catholic bishop for St John’s-Basseterre, Kenneth Richards, said he would support any effort that will de-criminalise buggery.

Speaking on Observer Radio on Friday, Bishop Richards said while de-criminalization does not make the act right, it should be used as a tool for non-discrimination.

“The argument to de-criminalise can be justified to the extent that adultery and this is the argument that I use in time past was on the books as a criminal offense, and it has been decriminalized,” the bishop explained. “It is on this basis that buggery can also be de-criminalised. However, this does not make adultery right, nor does it make buggery right.”

Richards added that de-criminalising the act would allow anyone to feel welcome to attend his church. He said he does not place labels on anyone, as the doors are open to all.

His stance is likely to be at odds with other church leaders who have maintained a hardline stance against buggery and homosexuality.

Superintendent of the Methodist Church Rev Carlwin Greenaway said while the clergy has not issued a specific statement on the matter, the church operates on the principle that any act of sex outside of marriage between a man and a woman is against the teachings of God.

“However, we recognise that there are other sexual sins. Who is to say that one is greater than the other?” he asked.

He agreed that the fact that buggery is still a criminal offense, yet other sins are not, has to be considered. “Should we make extra-marital sex a crime?” he asked. “We know that that is unrealistic to expect.”

also see: ACC Wants to Keep Anti-Buggery Laws and Antigua’s Buggery Law Unlikely To Change

The debate(s) continue across the Caribbean

Peace and tolerance

H

Rectal Formulation of Tenofovir Gel Found Safe and Acceptable in Early Phase Clinical Study

Follow-up study planned to further assess gel’s potential as a rectal microbicide to prevent HIV
March 5, 2012 – A gel formulation of the antiretroviral drug tenofovir designed specifically for rectal use was found safe and acceptable, according to a Phase I clinical study led by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded Microbicide Trials Network (MTN), and presented today at the 19th Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections (CROI). The results of the study, which included HIV-negative men and women who used the gel rectally once a day for one week, serve as an important step toward the development and testing of arectal microbicide to prevent HIV from anal sex. 
Microbicides, products applied on the inside of the rectum or vagina, are being studied as an approach for preventing or reducing the sexual transmission of HIV. The majority of microbicide research has focused on products to prevent HIV through vaginal sex, yet the risk of becoming infected with HIV from unprotected anal sex may be 20 times greater than unprotected vaginal sex. Developed as a vaginal microbicide, tenofovir gel was reformulated with less glycerin, a common additive found in many gel-like products, in the hopes of making it more appropriate for rectal use. 
The study, known as MTN-007, began in October 2010 and enrolled 65 men and women at three sites – the University of Pittsburgh, University of Alabama at Birmingham and Fenway Health in Boston. It is a follow-up trial to an earlier study, RMP-02/MTN-006, which assessed the rectal use of the vaginal formulation of tenofovir gel. That study found the gel produced a significant antiviral effect when used in the rectum, but gastrointestinal side effects were problematic.
In MTN-007, study participants were randomly assigned to one of four study groups. Three of these groups were assigned to use one of the following products for a one-week period: a rectal formulation of tenofovir gel; a placebo gel containing no active ingredient; or a gel containing the spermicide nonoxynol-9. A fourth group did not use any gel but took part in all of the study-related procedures and tests, including physical and rectal exams.
Study results indicated no significant differences in side effects among the three gel groups. Eighty percent of participants reported only minor side effects related to the use of study products, while 18 percent reported moderate side effects. (Two study participants reported severe adverse events, but they were not deemed to be related to use of the study products.) Participants’ adherence to the use of their assigned study products was high, with 94 percent using the products daily as directed. When asked about the likelihood that they would use the gel in the future, 87 percent of the participants who used the rectal formulation of tenofovir gel indicated they would likely use the gel again, compared to 93 percent of the placebo gel group, and 63 percent of the nonoxynol-9 gel group. In addition to assessing safety and acceptability, researchers also conducted preliminary gene expression testing, and noted changes in the activation of some genes in the tenofovir gel group, which they are continuing to evaluate to understand more fully.
“These findings tell us that the ‘rectal-friendly’ version of tenofovir gel was much better tolerated than the vaginal formulation of the gel when used in the rectum,” said Ian McGowan, M.D., Ph.D., co-principal investigator of the MTN and professor of medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition and Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “We are very encouraged that the rectal gel was quite safe, and that most people who used it said they would be willing to use it in the future.”
As follow-up to MTN-007, researchers are now planning a Phase II, multi-site trial called MTN-017that will involve186 men who have sex with men and transgender women at clinical sites in Peru, South Africa, Thailand, and the U.S. Participants will cycle through three study regimens: rectal tenofovir gel used daily, rectal tenofovir gel used before and after anal sex, and daily use of the antiretroviral tablet Truvada®. MTN-017 will allow researchers to collect additional information about the gel’s safety and acceptability in the rectum, and compare it to the use of Truvada.                                         
In addition to Dr. McGowan, other authors of MTN-007 are Craig Hoesley, M.D., University of Alabama; Ross Cranston, M.D., University of Pittsburgh; Philip Andrew, FHI 360; Laura Janocko, Ph.D., MTN and Magee-Womens Research Institute; James Dai, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; Alex Carballo-Dieguez, Ph.D., Columbia University; Ratiya Kunjara Na Ayudhya, BSMT, MTN; Jeanna Piper, M.D., Division of AIDS, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; and Ken Mayer, M.D., Fenway Health.
MTN-007 is funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Division of AIDS (DAIDS) and the National Institute of Mental Health, both components of the NIH. Tenofovir gel was developed by Gilead Sciences, Inc., of Foster City, Calif., which assigned the rights for tenofovir gel to CONRAD, of Arlington, Va ., and the International Partnership for Microbicides of Silver Spring, Md., in December 2006. 
The reduced glycerin formulation of tenofovir gel that was evaluated in MTN-007 is not the same formulation developed for vaginal use. The vaginal formulation of tenofovir gel was found safe and effective in reducing the risk of HIV in women who used it before and after vaginal sex in a study called CAPRISA 004. More recently, however, MTN researchers conducting the VOICE Studyclosed the tenofovir gel arm of the trial after a routine review of study data determined that the gel, while safe, was not effective in preventing HIV among the women in that study group, who were asked to apply it vaginally every day. In the meantime, a Phase III trial called FACTS 001 is currently evaluating the vaginal formulation of tenofovir gel using the same regimen as CAPRISA 004, with results expected in 2014. 

Dr. Orville Taylor on “The Gays Already Won”

The following is an “In Focus” contributed piece to the Gleaner by talk show host and UWI lecturer Dr Orville Taylor

Hello, JFJ! The Gays Already Won

I am not a betting man, but I am willing to bet my bottom dollar that my friend Damion Crawford will be flabbergasted to know that Parliament that he has now joined has already done what he thinks it won’t. Never mind the Jamaicans For Justice (JFJ) activists who are still so deafened by their own clarion that they don’t recognise what is in front of them. Well, let me release the puss from the bag right now. Parliament has already agreed to decriminalise buggery.

At a recent event, Crawford, speaking with his usual youthful candour, suggested that despite the statistical likelihood that Parliament, based on a normal distribution, should have gay parliamentarians, it would not anytime soon move to legalise homosexual behaviour. Carefully toeing the line given that his locks are not simply fashion and Rastafari ‘fire bun’ on that ‘livity’ from Sodom and Gomorrah, he made it clear that there are many other things to preoccupy ourselves about than other persons’ sexuality. Good answer.

Let’s make it clear, however, that there is a difference between decriminalising and endorsing it. Decriminalisation would merely mean that consenting adults, Adam and Steve, can do whatever they please behind doors. It absolutely doesn’t mean that they can parade on the beach naked or have the homosexual equivalent of sex outdoors. There is an ‘L’ of a difference between pubic and public.

Prime Minister Bruce Golding, in 2008, made the bold statement on BBC that he would not have known homosexuals in his Cabinet, with the now-famous “not in my Cabinet” comment. His Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) has not wavered. Since he stepped away from the party, stalwart Member of Parliament (MP) Daryl Vaz more than hinted that he was not in support of having practising gays in his party or government. Furthermore, flash-in-the-pan Prime Minister Andrew Holness did nothing to demonstrate a movement away from the Golding doctrine.

pinocchio test failed

However, we must be mindful that much of what the JLP’s officers have spoken about has failed the Pinocchio test. Indeed, the same party hired a law firm which acts on behalf of governments and denied the existence and usage of an American aircraft, even though it was in plain sight, and then did an about-face within 24 hours, to the chagrin of former Security Minister Dwight Nelson.

In 2009, MP Ernest Smith blurted out in Parliament, “I am very concerned that homosexuals in Jamaica have become so brazen, they’ve formed themselves into organisations and are abusive, violent and … [what the] Ministry of National Security must look into is why is it that so many homosexuals are licensed firearm holders?”

Yet, just weeks later, he was defending a client charged with buggery and managed to secure for him a non-custodial sentence. But then again, he already has a lengthy proboscis like the puppet boy. Thus, like his client, honesty and truth also escaped without being made to spend a night in in the ‘Jail P’.

On the other hand, perhaps demonstrating why the seven-day rule is now being enforced, then leader of the Opposition, People’s National Party (PNP) President Portia Simpson Miller, unequivocally said she would appoint persons on the basis of ability, even if they were gay. Furthermore, while declaring that she had no interest in the bedrooms of her ministers, she felt that the buggery laws should be reviewed. Nevertheless, she would leave it up to Parliament to make the vote.

The $222-million question is: who will bell the cat? Crawford doesn’t think any one of the 63, including himself, would be so bold as to bring the motion to Parliament. And PNP officers and Portiapologists tried to make the case that she did not say she would change the law.

Nonsense! Having declared that she would appoint gays to her Cabinet, she already has implied that she believes that the behaviour should no longer be criminal, given that no person who is guilty of a felony can sit in Parliament. Therefore, the only way she could honestly appoint a known gay to her Cabinet is if she is committed to change the law.

But guess what? She doesn’t have to.

Eleven months ago, Parliament unanimously agreed on the Charter of Rights which now replaces Chapter III of the Constitution. All 51 persons present in Parliament in April 2011, including the vociferous Vaz, who shouted “unity is strength”, voted to insert the charter. Previously, under Section 24, there was freedom from discrimination on a number of grounds, such as: “respective descriptions by race, place of origin, political opinions, colour or creed … “.

Sex not included

Notice! Sex is not one of the characteristics which protected a person against discriminatory treatment. And by sex is meant the physical characteristics that distinguish between males and females, not behaviour, and certainly not the choice of partner.

Feminists might have had issues with this exclusion, but there were a number of positive biases towards women. These included the burden of maintenance and primary custody of children, and in the workplace, a protective law, still on the books today, which prevents women from being subject to the hazards of working at night. Incredibly, the prime minister is working illegally under the Women (Employment of) Act of 1956, which outlaws women working more than 10 hours in any one day.

Now, the Charter of Rights, in Section 13 (3) (i), guarantees the right to freedom from discrimination on the grounds of “being male or female“, and Section 13 (2) (b) states, “Parliament shall pass no law and no organ of the State shall take any action which abrogates, abridges or infringes those rights.

Committees comprising some of the most brilliant legal minds, K.D. Knight, Delroy Chuck, Ronnie Thwaites, Ossie Harding, A.J. Nicholson and Dorothy Lightbourne, as well as non-lawyers, began the work in 1999 which led to the final charter being passed.

Now the cover is blown. Buggery, which is ‘anuphile’ penile penetration, is addressed by Section 76 of the Offences against the Person Act, which is still on the books. It states, “Whosoever shall be convicted of the abominable crime of buggery, committed either with mankind or with any animal, shall be liable to be imprisoned … .” Thus, only men can be ‘buggers’, although women, men and even animals can be ‘buggees’. Furthermore, nothing criminalises female-to-female sexual contact.

unconstitutional

So, since only male homosexuality is criminal, Section 76 is unconstitutional and, if taken to court, will be struck out. Maybe my non-legal mind might have misunderstood the lessons I learned from my law lecturer in Cave Hill, but did I notice something that the above-mentioned legal geniuses missed? No chance, I am not that brilliant. The gentlemen and ladies in Parliament and the Senate knew exactly what they were doing. A Parliament which housed other lawyers knew about the impact of constitutional changes and existing legislation. This is taught in the first year of the law programme.

So, dear readers, whatever might have been the religious orientation of the Parliament in 2011, they knew what they were doing but acted like Pontius Pilate. But, of course, the easy way is to allow someone from J-FLAG or JFJ to challenge the act as being contrary to the Constitution, which they might have already started

Thus, Damion may flash his locks in astonishment, but as Grammada used to say in her colourful Patois, “Di ass dun gaan choo di gate aready.”

Dr Orville Taylor is senior lecturer in sociology at the UWI and a radio talk-show host. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and tayloronblackline@hotmail.com

International Sex Workers Rights Day ……………

Today is such a day and is marked worldwide by conferences, sessions, some public education activity to sensitize persons as to the need to view this part of our community as human beings as well not to be ostracised and scorned as we are good at doing. The term sex worker rights encompasses a variety of aims being pursued globally by individuals and organizations that specifically involve the human and labor rights of sex workers.

The goals of these movements are extremely diverse, but generally aim to destigmatize sex work and ensure fair treatment before legal and cultural forces on a local and international level for all persons employed in the Sex industry. In most countries, even those where sex work is legal, sex workers of all kinds are stigmatized and marginalized, which can prevent them from seeking legal redress for discrimination. Not to be confused with the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers which is observed annually on 17 December by Sex workers, their advocates, friends, families and allies.

First celebrated in 2003, the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers is the brainchild of Dr. Annie Sprinkle and the Sex Workers Outreach Project USA (SWOP-USA), an American Sex Worker’s Rights organization.

Originally conceived as a memorial and vigil for the victims of the Green River Killer in Seattle Washington, it has evolved into an annual international event. The day calls attention to AIDS, hate crimes committed against sex workers all over the globe as well as the need to remove the stigma and discrimination that is perpetuated by custom and prohibitionist laws that has made violence against sex-workers acceptable.

The red umbrella has become an important symbol for Sex Workers Rights and it is increasingly being used on December 17: “First adopted by Venetian sex workers for an anti-violence march in 2002, red umbrellas have come to symbolize resistance against discrimination for sex workers worldwide.”

Sex Workers Association of Jamaica the Kingston Chapter has been doing ground work in bringing the issues to public attention, in 2010 PANOS released a report on CSW: ORAL TESTIMONIES OF JAMAICAN SEX WORKERS

The lure of easy money, peer pressure, economic difficulties and lack of education and training seem to be the factors which prompted most of the interviewees to begin sex work. Boy Blue regards his entry into the industry as responding to a higher calling although he hints that none of his previous jobs was as lucrative as sex work. A few of the oral testimonies reveal that early sexual abuse combined with economic hardship helped drive some young women into sex work,

The sex workers have had mixed experiences regarding working conditions
in the sex industry. Some of the women lived on the same premises where they worked. Most have worked in bad conditions as well as in good places where they were satisfied with the treatment they received. Violence is mentioned as a constant threat to sex workers and some shared their experiences of this. They also speak of exploitation at the hands of both club bosses and clients, and of some employers who keep strict control over their actions. Some sex workers feel the police make no effort to protect them as citizens or to respond seriously to any complaints they make.Boy Blue’s oral testimony is in stark contrast to those of the female sex
workers. He sees himself as the star of his own show. He says he negotiates what he does and where. He travels as he likes, chooses what acts he will perform and most importantly enjoys the sexual intercourse (unlike most female sex workers interviewed who said they were careful to separate business from pleasure).

In as far as LGBT persons are concerned especially homeless Men who have sex with men (MSM) this issue of commercial sex or transactional sex in Kingston mostly but also seen in St Catherine, Clarendon, St Ann and Montego Bay is worrying as many of the brothers mostly have been thrown out of their homes and communities have had to resort to sex work to survive along with other illegal activity including the illegal lotto scam allegedly. With the treatment meted out to this group of persons by the LGBT community itself through rigid stigmatization and discrimination, classism and literal scorn and outright overlooking by the advocacy groups with no serious intentions for street based interventions thus far one wonders where and when will this group get the attention they desire urgently? As someone who was temporarily displaced in 1996 through to early 1998 by virtue of my public case and family ostracism sans the existence of any advocates at the time I now all too well the struggles to find bread and temptations to engage in sex work with the ugly sides of such activity all too real with the loss of friends or police interventions/harassment on those who were caught in the act leading to all other kinds of problems that bedevil them for years on end in a few cases.

The civil disobedience some homeless men had to resort to against the advocacy structures albeit their own behaviour was not squeaky clean is not to be forgotten in August 2011 which came from some of the men who were displaced by the advocacy structures themselves after the closure of a shelter project due to so called bad behaviour bearing in mind no proper psycho social support mechanisms, tweaking of the original project or keeping the facility open were entertained or kept in place and no attempt was made to correct it instead the men were put to pasture. The we wonder why members of the population resort to commercial sex work? while putting their very lives at risk. Since 2012 alone several instances of chases, attempted beatings/mobbings and more join the homeless as they find themselves put out of their family homes, influentials in the community have limited resources to assist and can only do so much. As for the buggery law that too has caused some problems in proper outreach for msms involved in commercial sex work, we are told for example government through the Ministry of Health cannot be seen directly engaging msms since buggery is illegal and or the misconception especially overseas that homosexuality is illegal when it is not.

also see from sister blog Gay Jamaica Watch: Rowdy gays banned by J-FLAG, JASL ………. (Jamaica Observer)

Damage Control from the establishment on the Homeless MSM issue:

Doing ‘business’ in New Kingston … Jamaica Observer on MSM Homelessness ….. JFLAG should be ashamed

I implore persons to seriously consider this section of the community who have been overlooked for decades as funds are spent on HIV/AIDS interventions supposedly to include this group without any rehabilitation effort or psycho social support yet we have ended up with an infection rate of over 31% as the new study conducted last year seems over the original 31% rates in 2007. Homeless MSMs and CSWs are only good for statistical dartboarding more so than helping these persons to improve their living situations it seems.

Peace and tolerance

H