Dominica joins 84 nations in signing UN statement defending LGBT people

Dominica joins 84 nations in signing UN statement defending LGBT people

 

Roseau (TDN)

Lesbian gay bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) advocates are heralding the recent signing of a pro-gay statement by 85 nations including Dominica at a recent seating of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

gay youth

Gay youth at a recent LGBT parade in Taiwan.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The signing was described in a statement released by various LGBT advocacy groups as “a stunning development for the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

The statement “express(es) concern at continued evidence in every region of acts of violence and related human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity” and “call(s) on states to take steps to end acts of violence, criminal sanctions and related human rights violations committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

According to the joint media release from the various groups, “ the statement enjoyed the support of the largest group of countries to date on the topic of sexual orientation, gender identity and human rights.”

It builds on a similar statement delivered by Norway at the Human Rights Council in 2006 (on behalf of 54 states) and a joint statement delivered by Argentina at the General Assembly in 2008 (on behalf of 66 states). It is clear that every time these issues are addressed there is measurable increase in state support.”

In a separate press release by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), they called the UN statement “a very significant step forward towards international consensus on LGBTI people’s rights.”

“The strength of this statement makes the defense of discrimination against lesbians, gays, bisexual, trans and intersex people on the basis of a mistaken sense of ‘tradition’ or ‘natural order’ more untenable than ever,” said the group’s co-secretary general, Renato Sabbadini. “Homophobia and transphobia are more and more acknowledged for what they truly are: the last crumbling pillars of a patriarchal order which belong with other dark pages of our past, like slavery and the Inquisition.”

The ILGA particularly singled out the signatures of Dominica, Honduras, Central African Republic, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Seychelles.

Dominica was the only Eastern Caribbean country to sign the declaration.

Several other countries however refused to sign including Nigeria along with other African countries. Nigeria’s representative spoke against the statement, claiming to speak on behalf of the council’s Africa Group.

He said the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” are undefined, talked about God, and said it takes a man and a woman to make a baby. At the end, however, he said that laws that criminalize sexual orientation should be expunged.

The nations that signed the statement are Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Central African Republic, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Micronesia, Monaco, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nauru, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, Palau, Panama, Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Rwanda, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uruguay, Vanuatu, Venezuela, and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

 

Gay men attacked in St. Lucia issue statement

the statement in full:

(from left) Nick Smith and Michael Baker

Statement from Todd Wiggins, Michael Baker and Nick Smith

Re: Updated Statement regarding the Attack and Robbery in St. Lucia on March 2, 2011

March 15, 2011

The three of us have watched this story take on a life of its own and become more widely reported. Many of the reports have contained inaccuracies. We are each attempting to move on with life and would like to regain a sense of normalcy and personal safety. Instead of fielding the many calls for individual interviews, we have decided to submit respectfully the following statement for use by the news media, provided that proper credit is given in the report.

For clarification:

• Todd Wiggins and his partner, Tom Richman, had rented the cabin in St. Lucia, at which the attack took place, since November 2010. They were known in the local community, had numerous friends there, and Todd was volunteering at the local primary school weekly. Tom was in the U.S. on a business trip at the time of the attack.

• Based on statements made by the attackers, we believe that some of the intruders knew Todd.

• We have not speculated on the motive of the crime, but strong anti-gay, anti-White and anti-American language was used repeatedly during the crime. The attackers asserted that if we confirmed we were gay, they would kill us. They also alleged that they had friends within the police department, would know if we reported the crime and would kill us if we did so, which elevated our concern with reporting the crime.

• A camera, two Mac laptop computers, a watch and several thousand dollars were taken by the attackers, with a total value over $10,000 US. The St. Lucian police reported erroneously that $1,800 was the value stolen. Also taken that night were Todd’s passport, credit cards, and miscellaneous items which had been in a safe along with cash and Nick’s watch.

The passport and other personal items (not the cash or watch) were delivered to the police the next morning. Among the items returned was a “preferred membership card” (that did not belong to Todd) from a local St. Lucian clothing store. The police could not explain how the items were returned and have not investigated further to determine the owner of the membership card.

• Todd and Michael were treated for head lacerations and received stitches the night of the attack. Michael was diagnosed with a concussion after a follow-up examination at Emory Hospital in Atlanta on Friday, March 4.

• The police response seemed slow and unfocused, and it is possible that time may have been lost in pursuing the criminals.

• On Thursday, March 3, 2011, Todd was contacted by the Ministry of Tourism who helped facilitate, along with Delta Air Lines, our return to Atlanta. We remain grateful for the assistance of Delta Air Lines and the Ministry of Tourism for this assistance.

• The Foreign Minister of St. Lucia, Rufus Bousquet, has made insensitive remarks and allegations publicly about us and the incident. The St. Lucia police have also publicly reported that our items have been returned and that two of the five men have been arrested. Todd confirmed with the investigating officer in St. Lucia on Monday, March 14 that neither of these claims is true.

• We have submitted written statements of the attack to U.S. Representative John Lewis (GA-District 5), the U.S. Embassy in Barbados, and the U.S. State Department.

It is our hope that this crime will be investigated properly by the government of St. Lucia. We also hope that because of this investigation and ultimate findings that the island of St. Lucia will become a safer place for all people to visit and enjoy. We retain an affection for the many friends we made during our time on St. Lucia and hope that those guilty of this crime will be brought to justice so that no one else will suffer a similar attack.

Signed,
Todd Wiggins, Michael Baker and Nick Smith

 

Boom bye bye? (Observer Editorial)

WE share the immense feeling of disappointment and pain that has met the sad pass to which Mr Mark Anthony Myrie — ‘Buju Banton’ to his legion of fans — came Tuesday in a Tampa, Florida court.

Through his first trial, and the second, we had hoped that the gun and drugs charges against him would have been proven false, and we desperately wanted to believe that his boastful talk about drugs was just him running off at the mouth and nothing else. Clearly, the 12-man American jury felt otherwise.

The artiste was found guilty of three charges — conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five or more kilogrammes of cocaine, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking offence, and using the wires to facilitate a drug-trafficking offence. He was found not guilty of a fourth charge — attempted possession with the intent to distribute cocaine.

We are in wonderment at the complexities of fate, that Buju Banton should be so brought low at the height of his musical career, his moment of triumph winning the coveted Grammy Award for his Before The Dawn album, from which some creative soul at the Observer quoted on the front page of yesterday’s edition.

Banton means much to reggae as a musical genre. The ‘Gargamel’ as he is also fondly called, had often been spoken of in the league of artistes named to bear the standard after the late great Jamaican reggae superstar, Mr Robert Nesta ‘Bob’ Marley. His charisma, articulation, stage presence and penchant for hit-making songs, have endeared him to many here and overseas.

This has added to the pain of his guilty verdict in the Sam M Gibbons Federal Court where supporters wept openly.

Of course, not everyone is in tears. It is widely known that Buju Banton was regarded as the arch-enemy of gays and lesbians, following the release 15 years ago of his song, Boom Bye Bye, which is treated by the gay community as the anthem of the perceived campaign by reggae artistes to advocate violence against them.

The gay community, led by a radical group calling itself Outrage! has staged protests against Banton and several other Jamaican artistes, some of whom have since been refused American visas.

It is difficult to convince some Jamaicans that the gay community is not behind the alleged entrapment and eventual conviction of Buju Banton.

If any good can come of this bad situation, we hope that its important lessons will be learnt. Mr Myrie, after all, admitted what was caught on tape, that he “talked the talk” about drug dealing to someone who turned out to be an informant and he tasted a white substance said to be cocaine. Even if all that was done in innocence, juries are not mind-readers and they look at the evidence presented to them.

Drug dealing has wreaked havoc in this world, particularly in the United States where they go aggressively after suspected dealers. If you have no intention to become involved in the drug trade, stay away from people who are. And especially do not brag about something as serious and dangerous as drugs.

We sincerely hope that Mr Myrie will win his appeal, if he follows through on what is not going to be an easy road. Otherwise, we hope that his sentence would not be too onerous and that he will return to Jamaica to continue to thrill his fans.

Too bad for what has happened, but it certainly is not the end of the road.

Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/editorial/Boom-bye-bye_8423522#ixzz1EsyZqsQk

Also see:

Bustamante and Buju Banton

By his own account, national hero Sir William Alexander Bustamante was born on February 24, 1884, which would be 127 years ago today. He died on August 6, 1977 at the age of 93. This national hero who was Jamaica’s first prime minister in political independence was decorated with British, Jamaican and other honours, and is arguably the most decorated Jamaican in history.

Two days ago, Mark Myrie who goes by the stage name “Buju Banton” was found guilty in Florida, USA, of dealing in cocaine. Is he really guilty or has he been framed? I do not know, but in any case it is another sad episode in the life of a popular entertainer. In the now defunct Jamaica Herald, on November 2 1992, some 18 years, three months and three weeks ago, my column was entitled, “From Busta to Buju”. At the time, it was in the news that Buju Banton’s song Boom bye-bye was causing a furore in the powerful gay communities in North America and Europe. It all happened when someone translated the lyrics into the sort of English that would be understood in North America.

(Left) BUSTAMANTE… most decorated Jamaican in history. (at Right) BANTON… didn’t seem to learn from earlier experience

Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/columns/Bustamante-and-Buju-Banton_8419470#ixzz1Et06Sbmx

Also please see Caribbean Law TV’s interview with Professor David P. Rowe following the guilty verdict in the second trial of Buju Banton’s narcotics case. CLTV talked to Professor Rowe about the federal government’s process in bringing its second case, the way the defense made its arguments and the substance of the verdict.

Also see Barbara Gloudon’s opinion piece that appeared in the Jamaica Observer and posted on Gay Jamaica Watch –

Barbara Gloudon: “It isn’t the gays who’ve sent him to prison, despite all the Boom-Bye-Bye controversy. It wasn’t because he’s a black man from Ja”

As taken from the transcripts themselves in the conversation between himself and the informant (Buju didn’t know it at the time) he seems clearly interested in doing business, get the full 62 paged document here:http://www.tampabay.com/specials/2010/PDFs/banton.pdf he referred to snitches and that he didn’t event trust the privacy of the very conversation he was having then with the man named CS.

Peace and tolerance

H

 

Older Members say “No” to United Gays And Lesbians Against AIDS Barbados (UGLAB)’s Youth arm

Source

Hell no!

Rev. Dr David Durant: Youth arm of the UGLAB was giving too much focus on alternative lifestyles.

MEMBERS of the religious community are not behind the formation of the youth arm of United Gays And Lesbians Against AIDS Barbados (UGLAB).

But at least one is calling for tolerance and empathy.

Senator Reverend Dr David Durant, the head of Restoration Ministries, said he thought the youth arm was giving too much focus on alternative lifestyles.

“I don’t think they should have this kind of prominence. Instead, those so inclined should be helped through counsel and guidance,” he said.

Durant said there was no need to cry down gays and lesbians as he felt there was a way for them to become “normal” again.

“They don’t have to remain in that situation. They can be helped through the Word of God and, along with guidance and compassionate counsel, can overcome that gay and lesbian tendency and return to normal, as by biblical standards that lifestyle is not normal,” he concluded

“I think it is ridiculous. From studying the homosexual agenda, one of their [agendas] is to [attract] young boys. So I am not surprised; but that is something the nation must turn against,” said Apostle Bernard Cadogan of Love And Faith Ministry, Operation Marriage Restore and Excess Singles.

“We are not afraid of their agenda, but we are concerned about our children and what they are faced with in our society,” Bernard added.

He said that if homosexuals were allowed in the church they would be expected to change.

Apostle Destiny shared similar views to her husband Bernard. She refuted the claim of the youth arm of the UGLAB that it could provide a future for its members.

“They are short-sighted in their objective. There is no future for homsexuality. It is a dead thing.”

She is calling on UGLAB to be responsible and speak to parents about the problems of their children as they would any other problem.

Reverend Carlyle Williams, district superintendent of the Wesleyan Holiness Church, is of the view that young people “should always have a proper direction”.

“Just to start in UGLAB they are not going to get the help that is necessary.

“While we should not discriminate, the problem is far deeper. The question is: who will be there to counsel, advise and provide moral and spiritual guidance?” said Williams, adding that there must be professional guidance.

Reverend Cuthbert Moore, head of the Methodist Church, said stigma and/or discrimination against any individual, community or sector of the community “was not acceptable for our Judeo-Christian ethics and as believers. This attitude should not be encouraged by faith communities or society in general and should be stopped”.

Moore said: “Rather than criticising or condemning, as a nation and moreso as a faith-based community, we need to be more tolerant of persons who may be different; and the faith community needs to exercise a supporting role without condoning that which is inconsistent with our beliefs and practices, and provide a forum to educate our people so that discrimination, abuse and stigma may end.”

Trinidadian Transgender sister …… WOW

Should you ask, Jenny Jagdeo will tell you that she’s “a woman who has had corrective surgery”.
She untangles the gender bender from a breezy balcony in San Fernando, while the after-work traffic beeps and buzzes in the background.

(OMG she is FIIIEEERRRCCCCEEE!!!)

“I tell people that I was born a woman in a man’s body,” she explains with a voice of half-husk, half brass. “At no point in my life have I ever seen myself as being male.”
Her hands are soft. There’s no squareness of jaw or suppressed stubble to whisper that she is anything other than her image suggests. Her body and lashes are both extra long with a gentle curve. She’s gorgeous when she smiles. And the 35-year-old pulls no punches while sharing a story of equal parts heartbreak and triumph.
It started in Friendship Village. She describes her childhood as “perfect”. But that isn’t because she had once been a perfect little boy. Jenny now reminisces that neither neighbours nor schoolmates gave her a hard time.

“They could see a difference in me but they never discriminated against me in any way. It was like a little girl growing up in front them. I didn’t play boyish games, wear boyish clothes or do boyish things,” she remembers. “At that tender age it was there.”
But when, around 12, a rush of hormones washed sexual attraction to the surface, Jenny struggled.

“When puberty takes you and you start feeling attracted to a certain sex,” she explains, “that is when you realise: ‘well now trouble start’.”
Jenny had heard about men who had sex with other men. But even as a preteen she knew that her dilemma wasn’t just about who she would eventually sleep with. It went to the core of how she felt who she was. She makes the distinction with halting clarity.
“There are gays who are guys that like other guys. Transvestites are males who dress like females. Being transsexual, though, is being a woman but not having the body of a woman. I could not live in a man’s body and be with a man. If I had to do that I would rather die. I had the choice of being gay. That was so depressing to me that it made me sick.”
Her adolescence was traumatic, culminating with a suicide attempt at 18. The sex reassignment surgeries she’d researched and longed for felt like fiction. One saw the odd cross dresser sashaying around San Fernando. But she was clear that duct tape and eye shadow wouldn’t make her whole.

Jenny guesses that her parents and siblings had long reconciled that she was homosexual. But until she opened up to a psychiatrist after trying to kill herself, she hadn’t let anyone on that her raging, internal conflict was about gender rather than sexuality. She acknowledges that when she started wearing women’s clothes, it was traumatic for her family.
“That went down rocky roads,” she says with a loaded chuckle. “My father sought help from aunts and my grandmother. His friends and people in the public would tell him: ‘your son gay’, ‘your son dressing like a woman’ or ‘something is wrong with your child’. But I had my family’s support even though it was stressful on them,” she says.
By then, abuse from strangers was secondary to the savage war waged between her body and mind.
“I reached a stage where I decided that this is my life and no one is going to take it away,” she says.
Resolve was informed by hope. The psychologist and two psychiatrists who treated her over the course of three years had named her internal war: gender identity disorder.
Jenny also found a friend who understood and inspired her. That friend had had a sex change.
“You can’t just wake up one morning and say you want the operation,” Jenny says. The journey began with the detailed reports of her mental health caregivers. She was then referred to a doctor who performed a “hormone transplant”. This involved removing the testicles and starting a course of female hormones. For Jenny it was a second puberty-just as dramatic but a better fit.
They were subtle, valued changes. Small breasts. Smoother skin. Less facial hair. Mood swings. Two years on she had a surgery to create a vagina.

It takes time to adjust. At first the rooms that would suddenly go silent when she entered, then fill with hushed gossip, were difficult.
“It was so uncomfortable because you would see the lips moving and not be sure what they were saying. Half way into a session I used to want to leave but then I realised I had to make myself comfortable for other people to be comfortable with me. If I show fear, fear will always be there,” she reasons.
She accepted an invitation to a new church on that premise. Although she grew up Hindu, Jenny was open to Christian fellowship. She assumed the invitation was a gesture of acceptance. It turned out to be a campaign to have her revert. And it ended badly when a group rallied to get her thrown out. Jenny assures that the experience didn’t shake her faith.
“What did I do that was so wrong?” she asks. “What evil have I done to anyone?”
She’s had her share of taunts and they’ve overwhelmingly come from women.
“Men are mostly fascinated,” she says, “but some women have some sort of jealousy that you can transform into a beautiful woman and they aren’t. But why is that? These women do not take the time to make themselves look good because they say they have a husband and children. No, love. That is not true. How hard is it to keep your hair beautifully groomed, wear lovely clothes and put some make-up on your face? True beauty comes from the inside. But these people do not focus on that. They’d rather ridicule you.”
Then there are the men. Screening romantic partners is a painstaking job. She says she “interviews” them to be clear about their intentions. Asked at what point she reveals that she was born physically male, Jenny responds that there’s no need.
“Everybody in San Fernando knows me. It’s no big secret,” she says. Jenny’s pet peeve is that many view her as a novelty. She supposes that the terms “sex change” and “transsexual” create the impression in men’s minds that she has undergone a transformation solely for the sake of sleeping with them.

“It’s not like you’re a woman and they treat you like a woman. They treat you like a sex object and expect you to be some sort of sex siren. But what can I do that a normal woman can’t?” she asks.
What of the sexual identity of men who are interested in her? Jenny denies that they are homosexual and says that she tries to weed out the bisexuals.
“A homosexual is a homosexual. He only wants to be with men and can’t stand the sight of a woman. As for bisexuals, the minute I find out that he may want to see me as a man too, I put a full stop. I express and show myself as a woman and when a man looks at me he is straight to the bone. His friend might tell him ‘boy, I see you talking to that thing. You know that was a man’ and wonder if he is gay. But there is nothing about being gay in that,” she sets out.
Jenny is also resolute about demanding blood tests for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) when a relationship progresses. It doesn’t endear her to some suitors but she says that she has seen the ravages of AIDS and, besides, has enough on her plate without throwing HIV into the mix.
She acknowledges that many of her transgender peers find themselves either involved in sex work or being supported by men because they can’t find mainstream jobs. Jenny has channeled training in dress making, hair styling and make-up application into a career. She is in high demand, designing and sewing for everything from bridal parties to beauty pageants and working as a freelance make-up artist in “Hair by Jowelle” a high end salon owned by Trinidad’s most famous transsexual.

The positive, if not smooth, trajectory of her life was jolted by a devastating medical condition this year. A pinched nerve that had been wrongly diagnosed as arthritis for a couple years suddenly rendered her paralysed in the lower body. She was told that it would have to heal itself. After a few miserable, immobile weeks, she decided it was time to walk. And she did. Now she uses a stick. To passersby it’s a tragedy. Her doctors know it’s a triumph.
“Through willpower we can do anything,” she says. “The greatest power on this earth is your mind.”
Life has taught her that through hard lessons.

Mariela Castro champions gay rights in Cuba

Castro champions gay rights in Cuba
By Michael Voss BBC News,

Havana There is a Castro who is fighting to introduce radical changes in Cuba.

Transsexuals have a chance to meet at support group sessions>>>

Not the new president, Raul, although he has promised to push through “structural and conceptual” changes to this communist island in the Caribbean. It is Raul’s daughter, Mariela Castro. As head of the government-funded National Centre for Sex Education, she is trying to change people’s attitudes towards minority groups in the community. She is currently attempting to get the Cuban National Assembly to adopt what would be among the most liberal gay and transsexual rights law in Latin America. The proposed legislation would recognise same-sex unions, along with inheritance rights. It would also give transsexuals the right to free sex-change operations and allow them to switch the gender on their ID cards, with or without surgery. There are limits: adoption is not included in the bill and neither is the word marriage. “A lot of homosexual couples asked me to not risk delaying getting the law passed by insisting on the word marriage,” Mariela Castro said.
Mariela Castro

In the early years of the revolution much of the world was homophobic. It was the same here in Cuba and led to acts which I consider unjust
Mariela Castro”>>>>
In Cuba marriage is not as important as the family and at least this way we can guarantee the personal and inheritance rights of homosexuals and transsexuals.” She says that her father is supportive of her work, although he advises her to move slowly. “I’ve seen changes in my father since I was a child. I saw him as macho and homophobic. But as I have grown and changed as a person, so I have seen him change.” Mariela’s mother, the late Vilma Espin, was an internationally recognised champion of women’s rights. For Mariela, it is the rights of homosexuals and transsexuals that need fighting for.
Counselling
Once a week, a group of transsexuals gathers for a support session at the old Havana mansion which houses Mariela’s Sex Education Centre.
Libia has attended sessions aimed at raising self-esteem
<<<<<Libia says the sessions have boosted her confidence
Their ages range from late teens to mid-40s. All are dressed as women; some have had sex-change operations. A state-funded psychiatrist offers counselling, support and health education. “Transsexuals have always faced a degree of injustice,” said Libia, who trained as a hairdresser after attending sessions at the centre. “Here we get a lot of respect. This institution has helped raise our self-esteem.” Past repression Today Cuba has a vibrant but generally discreet gay scene. There is a popular gay beach in Playas del Este just a short drive from Havana. In the capital itself there are no openly gay bars, but there is a weekly nightclub complete with floor show. The venue also hosts a comedy club one night, a cabaret another.

People watch a show by a drag queen at a Cuban night club (identity obscured)

A weekly gay night at a Havana nightclub is well attended

But according to the manager, who asked not to be named or for the club to be identified, it is the gay evening that is always the best attended. The event is perfectly legal but it is not advertised, relying instead on word of mouth. Given Cuba’s past treatment of homosexuals, most people here prefer to remain anonymous. In the early days of the revolution many homosexuals were sent to forced labour camps for re-education and rehabilitation. The camps did not last long but still gays were often denied certain jobs as “ideological deviants”. In the 1980s, there were orchestrated mass rallies denouncing homosexuals. Ingrained prejudices Sex between consenting adults of the same gender was legalised about 15 years ago, but police harassment and raids on gay gatherings continued until very recently. “In the early years of the revolution much of the world was homophobic.

It was the same here in Cuba and led to acts which I consider unjust,” said Mariela Castro. “What I see now is that both Cuban society and the government have realised that these were mistakes. There is also the desire to take initiatives which would prevent such things happening again.” But it remains an uphill struggle. Old prejudices remain deeply ingrained, particularly amongst the older generation. “It’s like an illness or perhaps a character defect,” one man explained, asking not to be identified. Others though are more tolerant. Talking to people in the street, many said that they disapproved of homosexuals but felt that people should be free to live their own lives. There is still no guarantee that when the National Assembly convenes later this year, under the watchful eye of Raul Castro, it will approve Mariela’s gay rights bill. If it does, though, this would mark a revolutionary change in Cuba’s sexual politics.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/7314845.stm