Homeless impatient with agencies over slow progress of promised shelter

December 19th saw two Christmas treats hosted for sections of the Kingston homeless, displaced and dislocated men who have sex with men grouping the main one was executed by a young turk with his new Yardieboiz Foundation and a hastily joined Jamaica Forum for Lesbians Allsexuals and Gays, JFLAG after he floated his idea to do so in what was to have been some appeasing to settle the very tense relationship between the men and the agency coupled with the battyman entitlement phenomenon that has plagued such agencies and that of Jamaica AIDS Support for Life’s property for years where such persons with that agenda who enter therein those properties feel they must be treated with urgency and they being the community male gay and bisexuals make demands or even break the guidelines set as to how to access such properties, a fact that has also plagued the men for years leading to the seeming non interest by the agencies in addressing the social justice matters chief among them welfare and psycho-social concerns.

With the recent public spectacle yet again via television of the member of parliament having to remove the men from another section of New Kingston with state resources, upset residents spoke their minds, on the same clips and the men also were given their chance to explain themselves in a sense in at least one report via Television Jamaica, TVJ this was of course not after two heated exchanges and almost violent attack allegedly by a few of the men towards the person in the form of the female reporter one Miss Darah Smith of TVJ who threatened to report the matter to the police I was able to confirm.

see: Kingston Homeless MSM Evicted (yet again) with the video

She carried out her duties anyway as a journalist and filed her report which was carried on December 6 and posted as an entry on my sister blog GLBTQJA on blogger that was recently opened. This is the side of the matter that has irked many thus the homeless MSM have lost support over the years due to outburst such as those described with many community and others persons saying they do not deserve any assistance. Many influentials have given up as they cannot cope and do not have the expertise to engage the behavioural problems, numbness to authority and discipline. Yet agencies gave media interviews giving the impression that they are doing work with the men, who can forget the television Jamaica, TVJ ones especially with fortunately a member of parliament, a police Superintendent and a reformed New Kingston Civic Association who before were very homophobic but now open for dialogue and with all those positive variables in place to make the process and dialogues far more lucrative for all involved we were told that a shelter was in the making so much so that a town hall meeting was held though sparsely attended by the LGBT community on November 7, members of the community consisting of other stakeholders and even the men themselves  (maybe reflecting how persons feel towards the men and their issues) where a shelter structure and indeed a space was supposedly identified to be opened on December 1. The promised documents of the assessments in response to a set of questions I posed on the types of interventions to be used are yet to come to hand.

As it turns out the identified space was not confirmed and the negotiations fell through between JFLAG and the lawyers for the property with zoning and other challenges presenting themselves so the idea was scrapped thus leaving the men out of luck, some of whom we do not know maybe engaged in this new pilot project which is to last for three months, we can conclude the announcement of the shelter was premature.  The previous Safe House Pilot that was closed is basically to be reopened in other words, a project if allowed to have continued back then in 2009/10 when it was dubiously closed would have taught us many things including the behavioural challenges those of us knew of for years and the previously mentioned battyman entitlement phenomenon as well. A recent stoning incident at JASL’s offices with some of the men clashing with staff who would occasionally use their offices to fetch water is one such reminder of that problem, a fight between a alleged staff member of JFLAG and one of the leading homeless men after the World AIDS Day function at JASL is also another reminded of how this thing can get out of hand but how one engages such a problematic population is also a factor in all this, as far as I am concerned and indeed some others that’s a major part of the problem but the agencies feel justified in putting their foot down as it were without addressing that fact. The men in particular who are the instigators of these repeated tense moments between the agencies are themselves previous residents of the aforementioned defunct shelter and to this day they are upset that they were made displaced by the very agencies that were to assist even as a shelter was in full flight, the newcomers are made aware of this history so some of them join the throng or are made to do so based on the group dynamics that exist, for the most part I am in support of that in principle, how that anger is expressed is another matter altogether but the agencies and personalities seem to miss the bigger picture in all this.

The fact that the JFLAG office now sits where the shelter once stood is a constant reminder to them in their eyes that they are more of an inconvenience than a concern for the agency as they feel they were moved to be replaced by their office which now by the way has reinstituted the apartheid like security system with a canine team hence the previous unruly, indiscipline and uncouth response the agencies get, this is something I have been at pains to try to point out via previous entries but no one listens or pays attention to that, homelessness does not command sound bites or grabs international headlines as is customary for some narcissistic advocates who feed off a gullible community for the fame and glory so who cares about some dutty battyman? The men hardly visit the property with the regularity as before since the guards are in place but with an ever angry landlord and uncomfortable tenants breathing down the necks of the agencies what are they to do it is being asked by observers?

The men are now nomads again as the Kingston & St Andrew Cooperation allegedly has warned them not to occupy anymore vacant lots or spaces or they will be removed, this is while internal conflicts abound in the group as the dynamics play out with those who are the agitators now getting flack from others who say they are the fault why the agencies ignore them in the first place. This problem is a growing one as well hence the fights as described by residents on the video newsclip separate and apart from the aggressive behaviours that are used as a defensive strategy or as a means of protection, problem is when to turn it on or off as it seems the aggression also occurs when they get to the properties and agencies to access treatment care and support as it were but none of which are forthcoming in any meaningful manner. The more docile homeless/displaced community members are assisted somewhat, a few have been integrated into other shelters of course provided they curtail certain things such as effeminate aesthetics and so on while maintaining their jobs (for those still employed), a few have ruined such opportunities by exposing themselves again due to “bad behaviour” others have been given temporary shelter with friends but that too has its share of challenges as allegations pilferage and deep mistrust have all but made that kind of assistance a rare opportunity and when that does not spoil it then homo-negativity or homophobia does as was evident in an arson in November at a popular drag queen’s home who offered some assistance to some of the young men. Persons like myself who have space to assist are sceptical to do so and also the financial resources are just not there, a point I raised in a question at that town hall meeting where I asked if JFLAG would consider as a part of its crisis intervention program (I had proposed this before while working there) that they offer psycho social interventions for the individual housed in private spaces made available by willing LGBTians and also financial input via stipends to offset costs during the stay, only displaced persons would qualify who have displaced the diligences to adjust in such an environment etc. A more structured space would be needed for homeless persons who have been so for extended periods.

We are now being told that a pilot is to be tried yet again for January for three months via a brief exchange I had with JFLAG’s Executive Director Mr Dane Lewis on the weekend where he claims they cannot find a physical space to carry out the project. It is sad that all of these issues over the years since the closure of the last pilot could have been avoided including the murders of several of the men be they homophobic caused or in-ter/tra community related, the crisis communication by the agencies which has been poor overall needs to address that so the public has a clearer understanding and not left cynical about what happens to LGBT victims of such crimes as caused by us in lover’s quarrels.

Which leads me to the title of this entry, after spending almost all night on the road window shopping and hanging out with friends I came across some of the men in parts of Half Way Tree and New Kingston and then in Spanish Town as I made my way home and believe me a few of the men are furious about many things (which from my experience can spread quite easily). Some have expressed that they do not want to hear from JFLAG anymore, others refused to attend the treat that was planned by the agency or that they were not invited, others say if a shelter opened they may go but not cooperate, some say they just want a job to move on with their lives. One set in Spanish Town say they feel invisible as no one from the agency has bothered to pay them any attention as Kingston gets the interest and they do not intend to journey there as they get some help from the “bosses” in the area they are in via odd jobs and other activities. The men who were burnt out nearing Sydenham some time ago are elsewhere now.

Some of the men expressed a growing concern by those of whom who have seen it before in the form on HIV prevention messaging fatigue where the men feel they are diseased persons (not directly said but implied) as when they do see anyone from the agencies (numbering some five or more) it is condoms, testing (some being paid a $1000 stipend to do so) and safer sex messaging that comes and basically nothing more, they feel as if all they are are worthless, oversexed gays in the eyes of the agencies and they want more attention than that. Ironically this is not coming from older MSM who are more than exposed to this and some peer educator training or repeated interventions but younger males who say they prefer such matters be discussed in a office or clinical settings (again not their exact words but implied) and more personal matters be addressed when the outreach officers come to visit, this maybe evidenced in how comfortable the men were to tell their stories and to simply talk as long as someone would listen intently that is as they also raised mistrust issues as well. Some of the very outreach personnel from the agencies were deemed untrustworthy with information hence the men just tacitly engage them, take the condoms and be very abrupt for example.

Talk therapy is something I had long suggested from my days at JFLAG as it is an effective tool in crisis interventions to assist persons in releasing some of those tensions and anxieties following an attack or homo/lesbo/bi/transphobic episode. All some of the youngsters need is to talk including the violent ones but the space and times are also crucial. The one or two persons who carry out the outreach for JFLAG is certainly not enough whilst the organization as far as I am concerned is far too top heavy.

Meanwhile the chases, abuse and attacks continue as only two weeks ago the men had to flee a section of New Kingston where they had started to congregate but with the media attention, the effeminate posturing publicly and other matters they are all too easily identified these days so anywhere they go they are picked on by a homophobic public who view them via stereotypical lenses.  The beating if an alleged gay man downtown some three weeks ago is no consolation and the other rumoured matters with their counterparts in rural Jamaica, especially western Jamaica where I and others are kept apace as to some of the happenings there especially due to the crackdown of the police on the lotto scamming which has its share of gay/bi players as well.

Did the parties involved in forming the previous Safe House waist our time?

Safe house logo

A shelter pilot project is a start but as I have said and will always say all of this could have been avoided, the Gay Lesbian and Bisexual Community, GLABCOM Committee(s) of JASL on which I sat with others concerned for several dispensations, the former Executive Director who spear headed that Safe House Pilot and the volunteers then now feel we all waisted our time, hundreds of man hours consulting , making suggestions and concerns some of which expressed on paper locked away in a filing cabinet somewhere to arrive at the shelter being closed and watching the lives of the then populations with new ones added almost daily just relegated to being the least amongst us yet we are told no resources are available yet JFLAG has two Program Managers and both put together cannot seem to make one to come up with a sensible response to this longstanding issue? A pilot for the purposes to show the funders is one thing and that can only be temporary but why not a properly prepared grant proposal with the stakeholders including those from the previous dispensations who are still interested in engaging to join in also will it be just a shelter to only provide a roof and a meal or a full transitional living facility complete with the relevant psycho social staffing to deal with the stabilization and behaviour modification (with diligence building and social skills building) activities?

Lord knows I would hate to see all those challenges on the road now be imported into a space that would just be a ticking timebomb waiting to explode with possibly disastrous consequences.

Check out the homeless msm tab for all the entries before on this matter and also see the 2009 and the ultimatum given by Jamaica AIDS Support at the time despite the fact it was not really their purview to intervene on welfare or social justice issues when HIV?AIDS is their mandate following the explosion of the homeless populations since 2007 but if the board of  JASL at the time were concerned about the matter they should have not allowed the shelter to open in the first place and impress upon or collaborate with JFLAG to roll out the project instead of shutting down a project in full flight all because of “rowdy behaviour” so much for priorities. Weren’t they reading the reports submitted by the then Executive Director to know of the project in the first place? Yet she was forced to resign it seems from a board that never met with regularity but found it necessary to act with most members present on that faithful January 26, 2010 to put the nail in her coffin as it were. See the older post from 2010 where the men took action to get the board’s attention: CLICK HERE 

and: The Quietus ……… The Safe House Project Closes (February 6. 2010)

see all 54 posts from Gay Jamaica Watch: CLICK HERE

see all 29 posts from GLBTQ Jamaica: CLICK HERE

If persons on the board including its experienced Chair knew of the problems regarding the men beforehand, msm group dynamics and or behavioural challenges from service users would have caused security issues why sanction the opening of the pilot in the first place or at least on the property? Open it offsite then! But to close it in full flight is what has ticked me off ever since.

All of this could have been avoided with proper foresight and planning, lives could have been saved I dare say (the murders over the three plus years), and the agencies now would not have to reach for the very pilot shelter structure response idea they refused in the first place,  some it seems though the newer populations like their predecessors would have gone underground and remained out of sight so out of mind, introverted if your will due to the national psyche towards homosexuality, homo-negativity and effeminacy the opposite unexpectedly occurred the men are extroverted thus leading to unneeded attention to themselves, the repeated reminders to society though ethically problematic that effeminate men are here and other matters taking us to where we are today.

Coincidentally vulnerable populations was a matter of discourse on radio last evening with the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition, CVC on Nationwide News with Cliff Hughes,  where men who have sex with men were identified among others as those who need help and social justice as it were, the former Chairman of Jamaica AIDS Support for Life board at the time of the Safe House Pilot project’s closure Mr Ian McKnight appeared on Nationwide Radio in a brief interview which irked some of the community members who heard it while labelling him a hypocrite. The interview spoke to some law firm advocates in New York affording equal access to justice in the Dominican Republic and Haiti where groups like the CVC intend to expand their coverage, as for support services the firm City of University New York Law School created a model called the incubus of justice that apparently prepares new lawyers to work in charity typed environments while earning at the same time, it also gives practical experiences in such environments in a post graduate type training as well.

As for the CVC the Chair in the form of Mr McKnight said among other things that “……here in Jamaica we work through several of our member organizations with the vulnerable populations ….. we have long said that part of the great block where HIV interventions are concerned where human rights are denied left right and centre for these populations, it is fashionable and alright for people to be turned away from a clinic because you look a certain way or your believed to participate in a particular activity …………. these are issues we have been pounding at for many years not only in Jamaica but the region ……..”

Speaking in such flowery terms about vulnerable groups and giving a feeling of cooperation and cohesiveness when the opposite is the reality was expressed by some after hearing it. I did not hear the interview live myself but I was sent excerpts of it via email from a reader who recorded it using his phone and who himself was livid at the presentation given the context of the homeless/displaced and other issues.  The CVC and indeed JFLAG were silent publicly for the most part in 2009 between the ultimatum given by JASL to the men and the subsequent implosion/closure of the Safe House Pilot with the very same “vulnerable populations” in the form of dislocated/homeless msm (though rowdy as described by the aforementioned agencies) made re-displaced or homeless barring any stabilization work with such expertise resided in the very organizations at the time. Mr McKnight was vocal however via the Jamaica Observer in 2011 after the second civil disobedience action the some of the homeless men took which made news where he passed the responsibility for providing shelter for homeless msm to government.  We all know full well that that is an ideal but the realities say otherwise to include possible austerity measures and cutting in government spending.

What was also raised by the clip sender was the silence from the CVC/JASL/JFLAG regarding HIV treatment failure within the MSM community and recent troubling deaths of long timers and the results of the last MSM HIV survey which seemed to be held tightly to the chest of those in the know for all intents and purposes we know is higher than the 32.7% since the last one in 2007.

HIV prevention seems to be the be all and end all and no real emphasis placed on the psycho sexual/social, self efficacious work and fulsome community development then it is no wonder why as aforementioned some of the men feel so fatigued by the repeated safer sex interventions which seem to bog down the other personal goals and objectives the men may have and want to share but either do not have the space nor the requisite personnel to do same.

What about persons living their truths?

Real social justice please!!!!!!!!

For the sake of the least amongst us, tolerance is more than expecting John Public to be comfortable with homosexuality it also means lifting those within our ranks to some semblance of normalcy and recognizing them.

Of note other non LGBTQian homeless and displaced populations especially young makes I have since gathered are also watching this development closely as they are wondering when their turns will come and if they can possible enter the facility if and when it opens, this came to light via a discussion with a nurse in at another shelter faculty who has expressed some concern regarding homeless msm. The cross socialization of the groups has been happening by virtue of the category they fall in there is some tolerance happening, the previous rifts for example between the Half Way Tree heterosexual homeless males (windshield wipers and car washers) has died down somewhat as they share of the spoils from car washing and snack sales that some of both groups are involved in at street dances and parties. The gelling factor in other words seems to be the cooperation for economic reasons between the groups.

Peace and tolerance

H

podcast: Homeless impatient with agencies over slow progress for promised shelter

additional reading:
Challenges for homo/bisexual males continue for December 2012

From the pen of one of our homeless brothers

Some concerns from Western Jamaica on homelessness.

Jamaican Religious community & Theologians scoff at the “Gay Bible”

Queen James Bible said to be more favourable to homosexuals

Anonymous editors, possibly of the gay community, have set out to reinterpret the King James Version of the Bible by creating a new translation entitled, ‘The Queen James Bible‘, making the translation favourable to gays and lesbians.

The King James Version of the Bible is one of the foremost and leading documents which denounce same-sex attractions and unions.

It is difficult to ascertain who the actual creators of the new version are, as the largest popular online retailer, Amazon.com lists the publisher as Queen James.

This new version, which was released at the end of November, is said to be making an attempt at preventing any homophobic misinterpretations of the Bible.

The publishers have claimed that the use of the word ‘homosexuality’ was not used in the Bible until 1946 when the Revised Standard Version had been released and that people had misunderstood the original meaning of the text.

Of the original text of the Bible, the eight scriptures that have been most frequently cited to denounce homosexuality have been altered in the gay version

The editors have cited that the original scriptures were wrongly construed to reference homosexual behaviour and have now made “homosexual interpretations impossible”.

One of the scriptures that were amended was Genesis 19:5. Originally, the scripture read, “And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? Bring them out unto us that we may know them”. In its amended form, it now reads “And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? Bring them out unto us, that we may rape and humiliate them.”

Shun

At least two clergymen have shunned the alterations made by the ‘Queen James Bible’.

Pastor and vice-president of the Jamaica Association of Evangelicals, Peter Garth, stated, “It is no threat to the Church. I do not think the Church will be alarmed by this. Individuals cannot just change the Bible based on the original texts.”

“This sounds like a grand circus and if you change the word to fit your lifestyle then you have tainted the word,” he said.

Senior pastor of a New Testament Church of God in Portmore, St Catherine, Philbert Johnson noted that, “Man should not add or subtract from the word of God as they will pay the ultimate price, which is enshrined in Revelation 22:19,” the pastor explained.

Shane Bennett, a born again believer, stated, “I do not think people would gravitate to this or take it as a truth. It’s not going to create any new wave of doctrine. One must not think too highly of it as it is just lies,” Bennett said.

When a representative of J-Flag was contacted and asked of the relevance of the Bible to the gay community, he said that he was unaware of its existence but mentioned that he didn’t think there was need to create another version as many already existed.

The new Bible is being retailed for approximately $US35 on Amazon.com and the name chosen is due to allegations that King James was called Queen James due to the various homosexual relationships he is said to have had.

Meanwhile, checks made with some of the island’s popular book retailers such as the Kingston Bookshop, Sangster’s Book Stores and the Bible Society of Jamaica have revealed that they were unaware of the existence of the biblical text and so cannot state whether or not they will be introducing the book to the Jamaican market.

Meanwhile ………..

Douglas J. Moo, Wessner Chair of Biblical Studies at Wheaton College and a professional Bible translator, told The Christian Post that the Queen James editors’ assessment of past translations is not entirely accurate.
‘Few, if any English translations use the actual words ‘homosexuality’ or ‘homosexual.’ But the history of English translation shows that versions have consistently used other language to refer to what we would call homosexual relationships’, said Mr Moo.’For instance, the King James Version of Romans 1:27 refers to ‘men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly.

‘It would be very difficult to deny that this language, and the language found in many other places in both the OT and the NT, refers to homosexuality.’A Vicar in New Zealand, meanwhile, has caused outrage by putting up a poster outside his church in Auckland, New Zealand, that claims Jesus was gay.
‘It’s Christmas. Time for Jesus to come out’, the sign proclaims, with an image of baby Jesus as a toddler in a manger, surrounded by a rainbow halo.

Reverend Glynn Cardy of St Matthew in the City church, said that, as homosexuality was not a word until the 1800s, any mention of it in the Bible or other documents would have mistranslations.
He points out that there is no indication about Jesus’s sexuality: ‘The fact is we don’t know what his sexual orientation was.’
His attempts at challenging the status quo were defended by fellow Reverend Clay Nelson who said the billboard tried to humanise Jesus by getting people to think about the challenges he would have had growing up.

He added: ‘Some scholars have tried to make the case that he might have been gay.

‘But it is all conjecture. Maybe gay, maybe not. Does it matter?

‘There is almost nothing in the record of his teachings about sexuality while there is plenty about the perils of being rich. Certainly he always supported the marginalised in society.’

This is not sitting to well with me yet though as the feminization bit by calling the publication “Queen James Edition” while I understand where they want to go may be interpreted elsewhere as something else. Here is a snapshot of a discussion on the matter with Reverend Clinton Chisholm and guests.

The use of Jamaican dialect to further stigmatise homosexuals in the new patois Bible

The use of a patois (Jamaican dialect) to further stigmatise homosexuals

I could only conclude such as I replayed a clip of an interview of a discussion on the major religious station Love101FM on Human Rights Day of all days when the recently launched patois Bible as translated from the King James Version our local dialect as the theologians albeit facing some opposition from Christian and secular quarters alike pat themselves on the back on the feat. A corresponding audio compilation is also out and has been getting some media attention lately. I was opposed to it at first as was some regular readers and those who dropped in on my Gay Jamaica Watch blog where a poll was run for just over a year with over 80% of those who participated said categorically no to such a publication  but my small blog could not stop a bigger plan could it?

The discussion for the most part took light attention to the types of words selected and their possible meanings or interpretations by readers of the publication but when they got to the always controversial text of Romans on homosexuality in Rome and apostle Paul’s theological concerns he expressed in the book to the saints at Corinth as his sojourn to Rome was delayed for several reasons so he prepared the writings and sent them on. The word “reprobate” in the text of chapter one verse twenty eight was the source of some contention as the host Reverend Clinton Chisholm who also contributes his voice in the audio production of the work pondered whether the colloquial word used in the patois Bible really created the desired imagery?

Romans 1:28 (KJV):

And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge. God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;

The actual text from the New Testament patois Bible said as follows (transcribed from audio) verses 26 and 27 apparently condensed to one

“And cause dem a do dem si’hn deh God lef dem fi bring dung shame pon demself him lef dem fi rek part inna all kind a sexing  and so de oman dem ‘top do wey normal dem ‘top sleep wid man and go start sleep wid oman, a same so de man dem ‘top do wey normal tu, dem ‘top sleep wid oman an go start sleep wid man, man a sleep wid man dat a shame and cause wah dem a do wrong God a go gi dem just wey dem fi get God a go punish dem,”

The comes the damning verse 28, with their interpretation of the problematic reprobate as appearing in the King James Version

“Dem know de truth but dem mek up dem mind seh dem nah believe it so God lef dem fi do all a de si’hn dem wid dem dutty mind tell dem fi do, him lef dem fi do de si’hn dem wey dem nuffi do.”

You may ask why bother to pay this any attention but bearing in the mind several historical contexts that exist in what seems harmless on the surface a matter as patois but the interpretations by readers and the context of Paul’s writing in my view must not be overlooked. Paul in my estimation based on my limited exposure to some bible study and coaching he wrote the book of Romans in lieu of a trip to Rome but was stuck in Corinth as hinted to in the introduction as circumstances prevented him from travelling any further so he explained via the writings that the expected Jesus was the fulfilment of God’s promises and he wanted the saints to have order in their lives of course not necessarily with the holiness codes or remnants of it from Moses via Leviticus or Jewish law but by serving Jesus Christ. Paul may have not expected to have seen the kinds or pederasty, the intimidatory anal rape of conquered armies (a practice probably inherited by earlier powers such as the Persians)  and exploitive relations between men as we could describe as gay for pay these days. He may never have contemplated the more stable monogamous relations lately with gay marriages and security guaranteed by the respective states that offer such legislation. So in his writing he expresses his own thinking on the disdain towards the perceived or misunderstood practices of same sex attracted men.

Possibly the pederasty that was more a Greek societal practice may have shaken him to the core and I dare say the same kind of fear of the unknown seem to exist today from religious groups conjuring fear and speculation wrongly placed at consenting same gender lovers. So the confusion of homosexuality and paedophilia as if the two are synonymous when the experts tell us otherwise and I have no reason to doubt them.

The discussion continued where the guests and host looked at reprobate mind versus dutty mind, one pastor suggested reprobate suggested conditioning rather than dutty mind which suggests a condescending tone with regard to the practice of homosexuality in Jamaica and other social context “dutty mind” is used. Often times than not it is used to put down an opponent in an argument separate and apart from “dutty” by itself meaning a literal soiling of staining of a surface, body or clothing. For the term to be used in a Biblical sense when the faith requires a more open strategy when engaging the non Christian community, if you choose to listen the audio clip inserted here my Jamaican listeners to that podcast will find the emphasis on the tone in which the female delivered the verse as is typical anywhere else, it commands a certain strength to project the disdain intended but did “reprobate” in the King James version do the same or is it that as patois has been relegated to the masses or the sacredness of the Bible versus the alleged vulgarity of the dialect?

Another tool perhaps by the religious intelligentsia to cement anti gay sentiments in a dialect that foreigners may find hard to comprehend if not by pronunciation and context?

Historically we must recall what it took to get patois even to be used on mainstream media as it was scuffed at by the elite and educated class including the powerful religious communities who operated several institutions of learning, I can remember my days growing up and my mother and aunt reprimanding me about speaking patois out of turn and they stressed I speak English. Now we see the dialect being embraced supposedly for it ethnic value but to use secular contexts to promote a religiously bigoted agenda. I would hate to see and subsequently hear the old testament version in patois especially the Leviticus book where the supposedly “cut off” line means for many execution of gay persons as a part of the secular wisdom of the Bible.

Paul’s expression in Romans especially the verses 26 through to 32 confirms that God does not support same sex genital intimacy.

Why would someone choose something that would invite hate and problems? But with having to hide and not live our truths we see the challenges involved, with other exploitive practices creeping in, namely gay for pay that demands a certain kind of covert living in order to get on with their relations. News came via Twitter last evening then a series of phone calls from other community members on the murder and suspected arson of a longstanding community member and Justice of the Peace Becky as he is affectionately known aged 67 was of one of our longest standing personalities in the community with his trademark cold crown decorated smile and silver jewellery and a Justice of The Peace, engaged by gay and heterosexual persons as his personality superseded his perceived sexuality by a few (and there are always those speculators) a fierce advocate in his own right, in fact he was also one of those persons who would assist homeless and displaced persons too, I will nominate the late Steve Harvey who in his earlier years and difficulty was assisted by “Becky” many can attest to that fact and his outreach via his version of crisis interventions are well known here and abroad by older community members.

He was found partially burnt and his throat cut, apparently his house was set on fire after the fact to supposedly destroy evidence and the body. Shock and horror are the natural responses from those who are close to him.

It is not clear the motive for the murder at this time. (THIS POST MAYBE UPDATED OR A NEW ONE CREATED AS IS REQUIRED)

Anti gay Christian groups such as the JCHS continue to push this line of argument to bolster their agenda with persons like the group’s head Dr Wayne West (not a Jamaican) push lines that tolerance is equal to fisting and felching or persons who agitate for tolerance are asking to legalize those activities. He continues to push that the LGBT lobby wants to seize the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to allow depravity and illegal acts. Such practices are not popular here in Jamaica and are more seen in sub-groups in Europe such as the biker, leather or skinhead gay communities, he also went on in a recent radio interview that the philosophical end to the agitation for the repealing of buggery is to make all sexual practice normative whether they be right or not as imposed by aetheists with a worldview where no design is the mantra. Interesting he does not agitate this much in his country of birth Trinidad. Yet we also do not see the groups agitating for the least amongst us, the homeless and children in state care, the work by Jamaicans for Justice to publicise that problem and the steps taken to do so yet these religious groups abstain from those actions which in essence directly impact a healthy society’s development.

He recently equated the thrust for the buggery law repeal as well by saying the following:

“….the argument that you need to remove your buggery law to reduce HIV rates is eminently not true …………… the epidemiological data removing your buggery law is not necessarily nor is it sufficient to decrease HIV, what is important is behaviour.” He believes that the Jamaican people must be made to understand that the gay lobby, us, are intent on making deviant sexual practices normative as if all we are defined as is who and how we have sex and nothing else, so the likes of Mr West do not place any value of our orientation, choices, freedoms alienable or properly created and having a plural society where all persons can co-exist as long as their actions do not impede others. It is consensual sex in a private space is all we are asking for outward displays of affections are not culturally palatable here overall.

He concludes:

“ …..when persons come and say you need to remove the law to decrease HIV what you are actually hearing is you need to remove your law so we can modify the society and integrate all types of sexual orientations as the same and equivalent, that’s what that statement …. every time a Jamaican citizen hears that statement you need to remove your buggery laws to decrease HIV they should be hearing we want you to remove the buggery law so we can integrate all sexual orientations, all sexual behaviours into your activities and into your school curriculums….”

Now he dishonestly equates the recent Home and Family Life Fiasco, HFLE matter to join the chorus that there was motive for the questions posed in the manual as I had agreed it may have been age appropriate but is needed to discuss sex and sexuality. Then it is no wonder why we are having the challenges in our society of homophobia and homo-negativity while LGBT people continue to suffer from these kinds of institutional bigotry from the religious noveau intelligentsia aided and abetted by other religious groups who by the way cannot do this kind of activity in their own jurisdictions so they export their hate with millions of dollars to boot for full paged ads and more.

Priorities please religious friends.

Peace and tolerance

H

The Jamaican Government schizophrenic on human rights ?

N1258318-page-001 N1258318-page-002

Here is an excerpt of what our government refused to support: (CLICK IMAGE TO DOWNLOAD THE PDF)

Sixty-seventh session
Third Committee
Agenda item 69 (b) – Promotion and protection of human rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms

Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Guatemala, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Monaco, Montenegro, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland and United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Island: draft resolution Extra judicial, summary or arbitrary executions

The General Assembly, Recalling the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,

1 which guarantees the right to life, liberty and security of person, the relevant provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights

2 and other relevant human rights conventions, Reaffirming the mandate of the Special Rapporteur of the Human Rights Council on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, as set out in Council resolution 17/5 of 16 June 2011,

3 Welcoming the universal ratification of the Geneva Conventions of 12 August  1949,

4 which alongside human rights law provide an important framework of accountability in relation to extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions during armed conflict, Mindful of all its resolutions on the subject of extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and the resolutions of the Commission on Human Rights and of the Human Rights Council on the subject,

__________________
1 Resolution 217 A (III).
2 See resolution 2200 A (XXI), annex.
3 See Official Records of the General Assembly, Sixty-sixth Session, Supplement No. 53 (A/66/53),
chap. III, sect. A.
4 United Nations, Treaty Series, vol. 75, Nos. 970-973.

The recent surprise discovery by some human rights groups and activists that the Jamaica government via its foreign affairs ministry voted yes to change a specific resolution that offered protection from discrimination and state sanctioned killings based on said sexual orientation is now gaining some traction and has evoked mostly negative responses depending on how one looks at how the discussions have been framed. This is the same country that led the struggle along with others under the leadership of Prime Minister Hugh Shearer Internationally on Human Rights and we have subsequently ratified treatises, voted positively on other matters including very public international affairs.

The widely held believe of the “promise” for some persons or the proposal made by Prime Minister Simpson Miller to review the buggery law with a conscience vote the mechanism however has not been outlines fully, this garnered international recognition from other leaders and which ultimately led to the Time Magazine awarding her one of the most 100 influential persons in the world award thus making us look progressive but now?

CLICK FOR HOMEPAGE

One of her ministers has a set of questions to answer such as why was the vote done so as to avoid offering specific protection from discrimination due to sexual orientation? that Ministry has been mum since the news broke and the Ministry’s representatives declined a radio interview on the matter. They need to be reminded that they are servants of the people, this reminds me so much of the gymnastics during the Sexual Offences Bill debate and the Charter of Rights over its ten plus year period it stayed on the parliament agenda with the subsequent repeated interference by religious right groups such as the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship who used legal manoeuvrings to move words such as “sex” suggesting it would have opened doors for homosexual rights agenda and gay marriage agitation by the gay lobby. We see them now acting up aided and abetted by foreign zealots and well funded too spending thousands on ads and other activity when the poor need help.

reminder of the PNP when A. J Nicholson was the opposition spokesman on justice: Opposition sides with Govt on No to same sex marriage 

The bigger picture is the protection of the least amongst us and ALL persons should have protection under the state, the Jamaica government denied offering protection to such a group being us homosexuals all because the language is specific to the type of discrimination. Isn’t it A. J. Nicholson the Minister now of Foreign Affairs, the same A. J. who was very vocal in the aforementioned Sexual Offences Bill/Charter of Rights slammed the suggested and attempted repeal of buggery, parliamentary submission by JFLAG everytime there was a hint in the language that seems in the eyes of some to offer a perceived loophole to other “rights” that we do not deserve they act most times covertly to trash the clauses or sentences revealing such.

We have a culture we know of extreme homophobia and homo-negativity we also have a culture that would extract a significant political rice were any government were to be seen voting to protect supposed “deviants”  it is either we agree as a nation via our governments that human rights are inalienable to all persons of the citizenry including those who visit on our shores or we say no are not going to extend human rights because of some political issue. To be denied the protection simply because of behaviour patterns while ignoring consent and privacy is just plain wrong, a wrong that has been carried on for generations but the emotions run high and cloud the level headed discourse that is required on this issue for us to get to a pluralistic society. We are the same society that has no problem suggesting taking matters to the international commission on human rights for example or the Privy Council or the suggested Caribbean Court of Justice that of the face of it is about to be foisted on us whether we like it or not. Strange when the death penalty was prescribed by local courts and upheld via the PC our government cries fowl and hold prisoners for over five years on death row all because it wants to look good internationally then the PC rules that those accused cannot be hanged who are held over the five year period (after exhausting the necessary appeals)  the complain that we are being dictated to when it was OUR OWN Jamaican law that are used by the PC to adjudicate matters presented to it by Jamaicans litigants who use that avenue.

We cannot have it both ways, either we are for rights or against, when the political pundits sought the job of leadership is was to do just that, LEAD, it’s not going to be easy and there are some unpopular decisions that maybe taken for the greater good of society, leaders must rise to the occasion  that is their mettle and when it is tested it must be found to have been vigilant, strong and forthright in defending human rights.

Beyond the Headlines host Dionne Jackson Miller had Arlene Harrison Henry of The Independent Jamaica Council for Human Rights on Human Rights Day discussing the the removal of language in the form of sexual orientation on the Summary Executions UN Resolution – On November 21, 2012, Jamaica voted against resolution A/C.3/67/L.36 at the United Nations condemning extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions which urges States “to investigate promptly and thoroughly all killings, including… all killings committed for any discriminatory reason, including sexual orientation.” Additionally, recent incidents of vigilante attacks on perceived gay persons continue to undermine the achievements and call into question the national commitment to equality for persons of diverse sexual orientation listen:

What we have here now is that we have failed that test for some of the vulnerable amongst us, myself included as a gay man and others in the society where we have copped out in the matter of sexual orientation. The government  is weak on the things that matter and the things that will last defining how the least amongst us will live onwards with protection specifically set out. Instead some persons want the language to say “any other reasons or groups therein”

When certain key words appear they run and scream that someone is imposing homosexuality or conditioning children as in the HFLE matter or when it comes to tolerance persons like Dr Wayne West equate it to supporting fisting and felching practices that are in the extreme and done overseas but unethical pinned on us to bolster his anti gay agenda.

Here are some more reactions from the talk show circuit giving us some insight as to how the public is seeing this and believe me the views are so skewed out there.:

Nationwide’s Ron Mason with caller on Buggery & the UN sexual orientation res

Nationwide’s Ron Mason – caller suggests clinic for gays

Nationwide Radio’s Ron Mason w/caller on Gay parenting/UN Yes vote ..

Much to ponder on as a nation

Peace and tolerance

H

The abomination of cowardice; The just and the unjust … John Maxwell’s 8y/o piece revisited

Some of you may know by now I have always liked this particular article from the late John Maxwell, in its original form it was one of those pieces that turned me on even more to advocacy and to think it came from a heterosexual at that in Jamaica is even more exceptional. His Maxwell House Blog is still up.

Here is the article in the form of an Observer Column published today:

The abomination of cowardice; The just and the unjust

Today marks the second anniversary of the passing of iconic journalist John Maxwell. In the following excerpts culled by his widow, Dr Marjan deBruin, from two of Maxwell’s columns (December 2004 and February 2007) published in the Sunday Observer, the journalist is at his trenchant best on issues over which the society continues to agonise.

SEVERAL years ago, various media outlets carried a rumour that homosexuals were planning a march on Jamaica House. I don’t remember anyone believing the story, but the media ran with it anyway. On the day appointed, dozens of idiots armed with cutlasses descended on Half-Way-Tree square prepared to teach the homosexuals a lesson. None, of course, appeared.


MAXWELL… if we do not ‘love’ one another, ie respecting the rights of all, if we destroy those who are different, we are sabotaging our own chances of survival by reducing the diversity and complexity of life, which is what enhances the odds that we will survive (Photo courtesy of Leah N Gold)

As I have said in an earlier column, it was a uniquely Jamaican occasion, because I don’t believe that anywhere else in the world would the press have been so willing to spread such a plainly ridiculous and dangerous story, given the homophobic environment; nor would there be, anywhere else in the world, people idle enough to assemble for a sporting massacre, as it were. It was a low point in Jamaican civilisation and none of our leaders said a word.

Unfortunately, on the question of homophobia and homosexuality, the press is at least as backward as the majority of Fundamentalist Jamaica. Reading the advice columns demonstrates just how ignorant and illiterate people — including some counsellors — are about anything concerning sex.

Betty Ann Blaine, a very nice lady who is also a well-known social worker, delivered herself of the dictum that homosexuality is ‘learned behaviour’… There is no authority anywhere for anyone to say that homosexual behaviour is learned.

On the contrary, controlled experiment with rats under environmental stress produced ‘homosexual’ intercourse which surprised the investigators because that was not what they were looking for. And homosexual pairing is well established among certain birds. There is also some evidence that there may be genetic predispositions which may or may not be reinforced by nurture. The fact is that no one really knows, which, I suppose, is as good a reason as any for murder.

Be fruitful and multiply…

 Diversity is the key to survival with species and among species. If we do not ‘love’ one another, ie respecting the rights of all, if we destroy those who are different, we are sabotaging our own chances of survival by reducing the diversity and complexity of life, which is what enhances the odds that we will survive.

To be fruitful and multiply is not, as some of us imagine, a prescription for uncontrolled breeding; it means that we should provide equal opportunity for the survival of all. Fitness arises from diversity, not the other way round.

The more diverse we are is the more likely that some of us will survive, which is directly opposite to the views of the sectarian bigots who now presume to lay down rules to decide who we should love and who we should allow to survive.

The prophet whose teachings they claim to follow, Jesus of Nazareth, was in fact a supremely practical philosopher whose teachings seem to contradict most of the stuff handed down by the new rule makers. When Jesus said that the Sabbath was made for man and not man for the Sabbath, it was clear that He was not discarding the Sabbath and what it stood for, but making the point that while ethics and principles and the rules derived from them were prerequisites for a healthy and productive life, they were designed to fulfil human purposes and not to frustrate human happiness.

They needed to be adjusted and fitted to serve human purposes from time to time, to advance the human. Our ethical principles needed to be developed out of experience to serve real needs and not to be accepted simply because they had existed for a very long time or because some old geezer claiming to be a prophet said so.

Our absolutists who want to burn homosexuals and other sinners appear to reject one of the most fundamental arguments advanced by Jesus: that while the law and the prophets were to be taken into account, he was promulgating a new principle in total defiance of Mosaic Law: a new commandment give I unto you, he said, “that ye love one another.”

…The Christian Taliban

 Much of the homophobic plague now disfiguring our society is incited by those I call the Christian Taliban, a gang of prideful know-nothings who come not to call sinners to repentance, but to deliver them into the hands of the vigilantes. Some have acquired their second rate theology for a couple of hundred US dollars from some self-styled Bible college.

What riles me is that, in the heat of their newly bought holiness, they want to crucify the rest of us, or more accurately, to stretch or cut us to fit their own Procrustean beds of sublime ignorance.

They depend on the Old Testament, a collection of some of the oral history of nomadic tribes wandering about the Middle East 4,000 years ago. This accumulated wisdom was life-preserving at that time, surrounded as they were by enemies and eating unreliable food, but as Jesus of Nazareth said, it isn’t what a man consumes that defiles him, but what comes out of him.

Because the Israelite nomads wanted to build up the numerical strength of their tribes they encouraged men to impregnate their sisters-in-law if their brothers died, and buggery — then and now the poorest but surest means of birth control — was an abomination as was, for the same reason, ‘Onanism’ or masturbation.

To their modern-day successors, like the Pharisees and Sadducees with their phylacteries and other tokens of holiness, what is good is not what one does but what one says, forgetting another apothegm from Jesus — that the Devil can quote scripture to his own purpose. As far as they are concerned, the idea that God is Love is nonsense: God is a terrible God, full of wrath, vengefulness and thunderbolts.

These whited sepulchres understand Jesus’ advice that we should be our brother’s keepers to mean that they should be their brother’s jailers. My old friend Peter Walker used to call these hypocrites “God-Botherers” because they seemed to have exclusive hotlines to their divinity.

Now they counsel us based on misinterpretations of 4,000-year-old ‘science’, that abortion is always wrong, that life begins at conception and a host of other nonsense, including the belief that sex education makes children pregnant.

The latest outrage is the idea of raising the age of consent, an idea some would interpret to authorise the jailing of anyone who had sexual intercourse before that age. Just say no, they blather — ignorance is literally bliss. I have news for them: if they really want to protect young people they should promote the raising of the age of consent to 24, because scientists have discovered that the brains of human children do not completely mature until about that age.

As I write this my friend Canute James has shown me a story from The Guardian (London) about a Jamaican who has, for the last 27 years, successfully pretended to be an expert forensic psychologist. This conman even had a motto which must have come straight from Jamaica: ‘Exposing Unrighteousness for the Sake of Righteousness’.

This man, one Gene Morrison, who didn’t even have a ‘genuine mail order’ degree, duped judges, barristers and their clients for almost three decades. He gave “expert evidence” in cases involving armed robbery, rape, death by dangerous driving, unexplained death and drug offences. Police are now having to re-assess about 700 cases looking for miscarriages of justice.

Never underestimate the power of a righteous Jamaican, especially one armed with the Wrath of God.

also see:  John Maxwell’s “The Abomination of Cowardice” from Gay Jamaica Watch

and: Betty Ann Blaine & foreign religious zealots continue to mirespresent male  homosexuality from GLBTQJamaica

 

Ethiopia LGBT activists to support Ugandans against anti-gay bill

Crisis in Tahrir from BIKYAMASR

ADDIS ABABA: A group of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activists in Ethiopia are organizing themselves for what they hope will be action to show solidarity with the gay community in Uganda after their parliament promised to push through an anti-homosexuality bill to further criminalize the gay population.

“We will make certain that they know we are thinking about them and their struggle and make an effort to help however we can,” 24-year-old university student Amina told Bikyamasr.com on Saturday.

She and her fellow independent LGBT activists believe that what is happening in Uganda is a threat to all Africans’, gay or straight, and their freedoms.

“We know that this is the beginning of real attacks on all people and our freedom to live our lives as God created us,” said the lesbian activist.

They are not affiliated with any group, but still hope they can bring the community together in order to advance a better understanding of the LGBT community in Ethiopia, adding that there is too much antagonism between people over being gay.

“It really confuses me how angry people are when they learn I am a lesbian and have a girlfriend. It doesn’t make sense, but we have to help where we can to change people’s attitudes,” she added.

International human rights groups and leaders are calling for the immediate rejection of Uganda’s anti-homosexuality bill, which has been described as a “Christmas gift” to the country by Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga said.

Kadaga also said the new legislation that outlaws homosexuality and criminalizes the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community, “would pass by the year’s end.”

The International Federation of Human Rights (FIDH) said in a statement that it is “extremely concerned by the speeding up of the voting process” and has called on Uganda to end the crackdown on the LGBT community.

The bill is aimed at putting into the national penal code provisions that would continue to criminalize the “offense of homosexuality.”

It was first introduced before Ugandan Parliament in October 2009. At the time, strong mobilization of civil society organizations as well as international governments and institutions enabled to halt the debate and set the bill aside for more than two years.

However, in February this year, it was reintroduced before the Ugandan Parliament in its original version. “With Ms. Kadaga’s recent declarations, the threat of its quick adoption is weighing more than ever over all Ugandan lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people as well as on human rights organizations, and in particular those working for the protection of LGBTI persons’ rights,” FIDH said in their statement condemning the move.

“If adopted by the Ugandan Parliament, this bill will not only further entrench discrimination and inequality before law, but it will also be a sword of Damocles more dangling over all Ugandan LGBTI citizens’ head as well as over their relatives, friends and more generally those defending their rights. It has to be rejected unconditionally,” said Souhayr Belhassen, FIDH President.

Desmond Tutu has also voiced concerns over the legislation, this week calling on the government to end its crackdown on human rights and dismiss the bill immediately.

FIDH has been strong in its continued attacks over the bill.

“Although lack of transparency surrounds the bill’s current content, information gathered by FIDH clearly suggest that no substantial changes have been made to the 2009 text. In the original version, the Bill contained a series of severe provisions.

The one which remains of utmost concern is that providing death penalty for “aggravated homosexuality”, in case of “same sex sexual acts” with someone under 18 or with “a person with disability”, of repeated conviction, or if the “offender is a person living with HIV”. Besides, this bill is putting at high risk civil society activists as well as doctors working with LGBTI persons on HIV and in the field of sexual health, and even parents and teachers, as complicity with or failing to “report” those who are, or believed to be LGBTI are severely sanctioned. This Bill further shocks by its extraterritorial jurisdiction provision making any Ugandan citizen living abroad likely to be charged and extradited,” it said.

“This bill and the debate surrounding its reintroduction before Parliament are symptomatic of the more general hindrances to civil and political rights prevailing in Uganda. In a State of Law, authorities are expected to guarantee and protect the rights of citizens, not to persecute and discriminate them. If passed, this bill will seriously jeopardize fundamental freedoms and represent a setback for our country,” denounced Sidiki Kaba, FIDH Honorary President.

BM