International Day of Action against Jamaica’s Buggery Law

also see from Gay Jamaica Watch: Independence Skewed & Still No Justice at 52 and Parliament seeks submissions for sexual offences bills

jamaica protest nyc

Originally prepared by Melanie Nathan

NEW YORK – On the 52nd anniversary of Jamaica’s independence from the United Kingdom, human rights activists renew their calls for the repeal of that country’s buggery law, which effectively criminalizes lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) life.  Violation of the colonial-era law carries a sentence of up to 10 years imprisonment with hard labor.  However, the consequences reverberate throughout Jamaican society, helping to fuel widespread anti-LGBT violence.

The U.S. Department of State, the Organization of American States, the United Nations Human Rights Council, and Amnesty International have condemned the history of violence and discrimination against LGBT individuals in Jamaica and called for repeal of the buggery law.

Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller has failed to act to repeal the law despite indications during her 2011 campaign that she would work with the LGBT community.  Since then, activists have filed two suits against the law.

Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 7.09.58 PM

Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 7.37.28 PM

In June, thousands of Jamaicans rallied in support of keeping the law and against the “homosexual agenda” after the government had been reportedly discussing the possibility of repeal.  Few voices openly favoring repeal have been heard within Jamaica.

Several activists at today’s protest have either been forced to flee to Jamaica or have family and friends under threat there.  Dwayne Brown, founder of Jamaica Anti-Homophobia Stand, said, “From the safety of our adopted sanctuary countries, we demand an end to the grave injustices perpetrated against our LGBT brothers and sisters.  Every day, they must fight for their lives.”

“Jamaica’s ‘Emancipendence’ celebration is an appropriate time to reflect on the realization of the dream of inclusion captured in our motto ‘Out of Many One People,’” stated Maurice Tomlinson, a prominent human rights lawyer forced to flee Jamaica.  “We are standing today, as Jamaicans in the Diaspora along with our allies, to affirm that ALL Jamaicans are citizens and deserve the full rights of our citizenship.”

Jason Latty, President of the Caribbean Alliance for Equality, said, “It is imperative for the survival and vitality of the Jamaican people that we move swiftly to repeal the buggery law.  My organization is outraged about the increasing acts of terror directed against LGBT Jamaicans.  A nation that does not respect the life and dignity of its people is a nation on the decline.”

Edwin Sesange, Director of the Out and Proud Diamond Group, stated, “This is the time for Jamaica to practice love for all.  The buggery law should be scrapped immediately before more lives are lost.  The government of Jamaica and its citizens should work towards achieving equality and justice for all its citizens, including LGBTI people.”Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 7.35.25 PM

“In Jamaica, people masquerading under the guise of ‘religious’ leaders have carried the banner for hatred and violence directed against LGBTI people,” said Rev. Pat Bumgardner, Senior Pastor of Metropolitan Community Church of New York and Executive Director of the Global Justice Institute.  “Ending the buggery law will help Jamaica celebrate the diversity of God’s creation and honor the value, dignity, and worth of all life.”

“We plan to hold internationally coordinated protests every Independence Day until all Jamaicans can be considered free at last,” concluded Dwayne Brown.

Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 7.23.45 PMProtests were also held in London- attended by Edwin Sesange, Director of the Out and Proud Diamond Group.

ENDS

Question is are some of the cases being put forward as homophobic actually are?

Crisis communication is so important but one had to wonder what is the use of such protest when we are not sure if the politicians are being reached in private deliberations with some effect as I am sure the folks on the other sides are also using diplomatic pressure to bear as well.

This protest also seems to be going against the JFLAG turn on the call for a full repeal instead to a more sensible middle road of decriminalization seeing that rape is not covered under the present structure. But as usual the late in the day turn by the goodly J has gone unheard in the noise following the June 29th antigay protests by religious groups.

see this post on the JFLAG change in position: JFLAG Clarifies its Agenda

(their actual position actually changed in 2012)

The narrative for antigay groups such as the recently formed Jamaica CAUSE and Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship or Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society is a full repeal and that is what they are campaigning on via public advocacy, so what are Maurice Tomlinson et al saying to the world that we want to continue a fight unclear as to what we actually want or is this another image suring tactic disguised as protest for rights? We need to be credible in these things and stop the fiddling around.

The aims of the struggle has to be specific and not one group saying one thing or going in one direction while others are on a frolic of their own. As for the quoted sections by the author the buggery law does not in effect criminalizes LGBT life as she puts it but an act as carried out by some gay, bisexual and even heterosexual persons, this vagueness as well in the public advocacy and foreign support though welcomed sometimes just seek to could the thrust and plant all other kinds of ideas in the minds of the public including anti gay voices.

Peace and tolerance

H

Advertisements

Rev Al Miller’s late response to Dwayne Jones’ Murder & Respect heterosexuals demand

So Reverend Al Miller apart from using his weekend tele-evangelist airtime to suggest reparative therapy as if it works in his church Fellowship Tabernacle has finally come clean with respects to the awful murder of transgender teen Dwayne Jones in Montego Bay earlier this year. In an interview on Newstalk 93FM radio similar to other pastors who have been getting far more airtime than normal since the Queen Ifrica Freedom of Speech fiasco has and is still playing out Reverend Miller tried to bring some semblance of tolerance to the mix. Let us not forget this is the same man some time ago openly said persons must not buy into the tolerance call from the gay lobby as it was a guise to sneak in homosexuality on the nation. In September 2011 on this blog I posted Rev Al Miller says gay lobby is using the guise of tolerance to get the nation to accept the “gay lifestyle” where he said among other things

 

“Nothing is wrong with loving someone but disagreeing or disliking their lifestyle and the issue is the lifestyle we are not against, the Christians the word of god is not against the individual cause we are all sinners but we must recognize sin as sin, wrong is wrong and so although we may accept and embrace the person but we must say that the conduct is not right  and what the gay agenda is about is wanting the society to accept the lifestyle as being right but they are using the guise of tolerance, of course we can be tolerant with the individual but we must have the right to be intolerant to a practice that is not right it is in the same vein as anyone who practices a lifestyle that is inconsistent with correct behaviour or good for a society, if it is stealing if it is murder or any other kind of crime that is not good for society.

We must embrace the individual but we must reject the lifestyle the behaviour and it is the same, it is the behaviour, when we talk about the protection of rights the protection of rights if gays already exists because all their natural rights are there but what they are crying for is not protection of rights against harm in as much as crying for the acceptance of the lifestyle so that we will legitimize a lifestyle which is contrary to moral law to natural law to social order and all that certainly is good and decent and wholesome and will ensure our fulfillment of the mandate that we were given by our creator.”

Yesterday however he called for everyone to respect the norms and values of society and that accepted norms must not be overlooked “There is no question that that whole incident is unfortunate and is not the kind of thing that should happen we need justice and acting justly and rightly is the way that we must operate and as a society with values must operate and be consistent in upholding of its values and the welfare and rights of individuals are critical in that process but it is equally true that in any society that standards of behaviour and accepted norms must also be respected by all, it can’t be good for some and not for others.”

He further stated that while members of the gay community are calling for the rights of such persons to be respected we must also respect the rights of the heterosexual community, “Unfortunately in recent times that an incident like the one that happened there that created the ire of the citizens who have reacted at wrongly but it is speaking however to citizen that is saying that is not the accepted norm that we want. Equally we must respect the rights of all it has to be both sides, I am hearing a lot in recent times that the gay rights lobby for instance is primarily promoting what they consider their rights must be protected but yet be ignoring the rights of others, you cannot do unjustly to do justly so if we are going to talk about justice and wisdom we must be equitable so that they also must respect the rights and beliefs and the norms of the rest of society.” Meanwhile a British Gay rights group stages a protest in the UK as headed by Peter Tatchell and a Justice for Dwayne Jones at the Jamaican Consulate yesterday in London. They called for the government to protect the Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender communities against hate crimes. Pity that the realities still escape our friends overseas here as this was not a homophobic killing directly but has variables that either at the programmatic and intervention levels have yet to be properly discussed and understood.

More Rev Al Miller anti gay positions:

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

also see Anti gay pastor and restorative therapy advocate in trouble with the law again from sister blog GLBTQJA on blogger

Church Stands Resolute Against Buggery Backers says Al Miller ………… Love March Movement Lacks Moral Compass says LGBT voice

It seems the goodly Reverend’s view on respecting the rights of others is to stay quiet and be subject to condemnation biblically and otherwise but when one of our members is maimed or killed the half hearted conditional tolerance and pity comes forth, really!? The gentleman needs to remember his track record speaks to his true position from his active appearances in the Charter of Rights passage where he alongside Shirley Richards of the Lawywers’ Christian Fellowship made sure whatever coverage of discrimination due to sexual orientation was removed yet he comes with this position, who does he think he is fooling here?

Check out the video: Dwayne Jones (Gully Queen) Last Appearance prior to his murder 

Betty Ann Blaine’s arrant nonsense request of Peter King Tapes

When I saw this today in the Jamaica Observer the fumes were visible emanating from my ears, how can a children’s advocate be so dumb to make such a call even if the allegations of homo-paedohile acts on supposed tapes previously owned by the murdered Ambassador Peter King and also the Russian ambassador as well on the same night at the former’s home?

Hear the Children Cry wants Peter King’s tapes released

Miss Blaine via the Observer postulated:

CHILDREN advocacy group Hear the Children Cry has called for the release of the tapes that were found at the home of slain Ambassador Peter King, seven years ago, which purportedly contained images of children being buggered.

Convenor of Hear the Children Cry Betty-Ann Blaine told the Jamaica Observer yesterday that at the time of the ambassador’s death in March 2006, 258 tapes were confiscated and the organisation was reliably informed that children were on those tapes.

“To this date, we have not been able to see those tapes, so here is the call we are making, reveal before repeal. Let us see those tapes,” Blaine said.

Blaine, who is also the founder of New Nation Coalition, was speaking to the Observer at yesterday’s eastern leg of Mercy Cry, an initiative which saw Christians from different denominations gathering at National Heroes Circles in Kingston to pray for the nation’s leaders and to ask for God’s intervention in the many problems facing the nation such as homosexuality and buggery.

“We want to see those tapes and I believe that we have a right to see those tapes if children are on those tapes and until we can see those tapes and understand what is happening with the buggery of our children, we will not support any amendment to the buggery law,” Blaine said.

She also expressed concerns about the challenge to the constitution of the buggery law and the amendment or repeal of the buggery law, given the fact that the buggery of children has increased exponentially especially over the last year.

“The statistics are that 74 per cent of our children have been buggered over the previous year,” Blaine argued.

Jamaica, she said, should not “touch the buggery law” at this time, as the degree of buggery in the island is unknown.

“We have an idea about our children but we know that buggery extends to young people and others,” she said. “How can we be looking to amend or repeal the law when we don’t know the extent of buggery in Jamaica?”

 ENDS

I another post I lamented that tapes surrounding his murder case and allegations of popular persons on those tapes in same sex orgies would come back someday soon somewhere in the anti gay agitation and now here we are again. Some talk show hosts have taken that call and attached a homo-paedophile construct to that implying that men of upstanding status are sodomizing boys in their homes. While there may be paedophiles in our society overall to use this old case to further push the anti gay agenda while erroneously conflating same gender sex with abuse. Jerry Small of Newstalk 93FM is one such talk show host who has repeated this construct and also added the murdered Russian Ambassador who was also at the scene that night he concludes a cover up was done to hide the men’s secret activities. I am not surprised that the Peter King matter would have returned as a basis to substantiate the homo-negative position. He accuses the Russian diplomatic core of covering this death as the men were abusing boys at the Jamaican ambassador’s home and thus the reason why he was murdered. Where is the evidence for such allegations and why if one is opposed to homosexuality and indeed buggery would one want to see two or more men engaged in sex acts?

There are enough sex and adult video stores around that are now carrying gay adult video so they can go and buy them. Furthermore if the court despite conjecture and rumour in the public domain of supposed tapes did not see it fit to find and have such tapes brought into evidence then who is to find and release these tapes and to what end?

Murdered Ambassador Peter King

The case as I remember it had adults and the accused was sentenced and is serving time, during the court case the gay panic defence was used to justify the reason for the accused actions (as typical in cases as this) and the testimony and evidence presented did not suggest or prove that young boys were at the home at that time or any time or any other homo-paedophile activity. Furthermore persons I am familiar with who would congregate at the avenue sometimes such as displaced or homeless MSM have said the late Ambassador King was very strict when it came to boys around him and was a disciplinarian yet aspersions are cast on a dead man with very little way to prove or disprove them.

We do not know if any such sex tapes exist and if (a big if) he was involved in any such activity with under aged persons which I doubt I condemn it but the man is dead what would that serve now; bearing in mind laws already exist to protect children and the remedies exists to see them through any such despicable acts done to them if true. One thing we must always remember abuse is abuse despite the gender of the offender, their sexual orientation is immaterial as sexual attraction to children is a diagnosable disorder with the necessary pharmacological and psychological courses of attractions to address paedophilia however homosexuality cannot be addressed in a similar fashion.

Meanwhile to further show the level of homophobia these pretentious puritans have here is an exchange between a Jamaican gay blogger that he shared along with Miss Blaine

Betty Convo part 1 Betty Convo part 2

follow that story HERE

All kinds of suppositions and speculations have festered over the years since his passing to suggest celebrities, politicians and now young boys have been seen on what is dubbed “tapes” as he was accused or recording activities in his home at the time. For the short time I knew him he seemed a disciplinarian and a no nonsense man although one cannot swear for anyone but if such evidence was there it would have come out long ago. But to use mere speculation and supposition to demand tapes of activities that Miss Blaine does not subscribe to borders on a voyeuristic deviance and grasping at straws to support their crumbling position. When a twenty plus year old male witness testified in the case back in 2009 he had convenient amnesia as when asked about himself being video taped in King’s house he could not recall.

In giving evidence in chief  another witness said that about 10 p.m. on March 19, 2006, he saw the accused Sheldon Pusey at King’s house. He said King introduced Pusey to him and Pusey said his name was “Douglas”. (familiarity) despite the gay panic defence was used to suggest King inappropriately came on to him, then if he knew that King was gay what the HELL was he doing at the man’s house in the first place?

He continues that Pusey was wearing only a pair of underpants and a pair of socks while King was wearing a pair of boxer shorts. The witness said he went to bed downstairs and did not wake up until the next morning when the police came to the premises and “hauled” him out of the room. He said it was at that time he discovered that King was dead.

A medical doctor testified that about 5 p.m. on March 19, 2006, he and a friend went to King’s house. He said he knew King for 25 years and while he was there, Pusey came to the house and King introduced Pusey to him as Sheldon. He said he spoke to Pusey briefly.

The doctor said Pusey was sitting by the computer. Pusey’s hands were on his (Pusey’s) thighs. “I remember his nails were glossy, it was something that jumped out at you. I remember asking him how his nails were so glossy, how he came to get them like that. I recall him saying it was banana stain he used on his nails to get them so shiny.” He said when he and his friend left King’s house at minutes to 8 p.m. on March 19, 2006, Pusey was still sitting by the computer.

also see from Feb 2009 Crown rests case in Peter King trial

UPDATE JUNE 26, 2013

51cace3bec8d83f0860000aa

UPDATE JUNE 28, 2013

JFLAG comes with a late statement after all this time the woman has been at it and it is now when she is so louder than ever they finally come with a knee jerk response, pardon my unease with their performance but sheesh:

Peace and tolerance

H

The UNIBAM Case Has Its First Day In Court …….. leader confronted

Source: 7 News Belize

UNIBAM’s (United Belize Advocacy Movement) challenge to the constitutionality of section 53 of the criminal code has set off Belize’s first culture war – with the Church on one side and Caleb Orozco and his supporters on the other.

They’re trying to have Belize’s buggery laws taken off the books – while the Churches are fighting to uphold God’s law.

And while there has been passionate public debate and protest, the battle hasn’t even really started. The case went to court today for the very first time – and as might have been expected, the power of prayer was brought to harness.

But while that happened outside, inside the courtroom of Justice Michelle Arana, the attorneys for the Churches, Michel Chebat, Rodwell Williams and Jackie Marshalleck – as interested parties – argued that UNIBAM had no standing to bring the case, because as an organization it has no constitutionally guaranteed rights. Additionally, they argued that their experts had not been properly brought before the courts.

For its part, the UNIBAM attorney Lisa Shoman and Simeon Sampson argued that the Churches – as only an interested party – had taken over the right of the real respondents in the case which is the Government of Belize. A point which was later contradicted by the Attorney General’s Ministry represented by Nigel Hawke.

Arguments took all day to be heard – but the monochrome hearing of all these technical preliminary matters was coloured by the Christian observers who – though few in number – had a strong presence.

Here’s our report:..

Pastor Scott Stirm, Jubilee Ministries, Belmopan
“So Lord we receive your strength today; we receive your legal strength. Lord we pray for Michel Chebat. We pray for Rodwell Williams. We pray for Jackie Marshalleck, Lord God.”

Jules Vasquez reporting
There was powerful prayer this morning in the open air and the shadow of the Supreme Court building.

A circle formed which seemed to marry prayer and protest, or prayerful protest and singing as well as they processed past the courthouse.

From there the prayer circle moved in front of the courtroom where an intense small circle gathered.

And on the other side of the courthouse, patriotism, prayer and protest mingled in a chorus of voices; here they read bibles not lawbooks.

Upstairs near the courtroom they also had a prayerful presence, while the lawyers and activists milled about, eventually leaving for an early adjournment due to blackout.

But arguments resumed in the afternoon, and went on until 4:40 pm – with the judge reserving judgment until a later date. It’s only a preliminary skirmish but both sides would only express only measured optimism.

Jules Vasquez
“You think UINBAM will survive as an applicant withstanding?”

Lisa Shoman, SC Co-counsel, UNIBAM
“It really matters not whether UNIBAM survives as an applicant. This case will go on. I rather suspect that it at this point almost doesn’t matter how the judge rules. There may very well be an appeal in either case. Suffice it to say that the claimants really want to get the case heard, and it is no part on the intention of the claimants to have the matter drag on and on. He’d like to get the matter before the courts. There are several options that we have open, and we will look at them when that arises because – as you can appreciate – there is no way to tell, and I don’t like guessing as to how the judge will rule.”

Jules Vasquez
“However, do you expect that eventually your experts will be accepted?”

Lisa Shoman
“I expect so, one way or another, yes.”

Jules Vasquez
“What is the prospect for an early hearing of this matter?”

Lisa Shoman
“I would hope very good. It really will depend on the court, and they’ve had quite a bit of argument and material placed before them. But I know that the courts are quite aware that this is an issue which needs to hear with some rectitude, so I am not concerned about that. I am sure it will be heard as quickly as possible.”

Jules Vasquez
“Simeon, you’ve been at this court for years. I don’t think you’ve even attended a court hearing where there has been singing and praying in and around the courtroom.”

Simeon Sampson, SC, Co-Counsel Churches
“Well I know that you assume that, but you are only associated with criminal matters. This is an intellectual exercise; it’s a human rights issue. I’ve been involved with human rights issues in Belize for 20 or so years. When I get involved I always try to ensure success. It only just began; we have a long way to go.”

Rodwell Williams, SC Co-counsel, Churches
“Our application was that that organization had no standing and we believe we have made reasonable arguments to support that request that it be struck, and that certain affidavits that are effective were given. And contrary to the rules without the leave of the court, and so on, and that those also should be struck. And I feel reasonably confident about the applications and the prospect of success. Of course, litigation has it risks, but we believe that as interested parties we have standing to bring that application – as you would readily appreciate. Interested parties have appealed decisions of this court all the way up to the Privy Council. There is no good reason to say that interested party because you are so call interested party you can make substantive application.”

Jules Vasquez
“Are you all trying to have this matter thrown out on preliminary technical matters?”

Rodwell Williams
“The application is only against UNIBAM. So if UNIBAM goes the matter is still extant.”

Jules Vasquez
“Do you think it’s a matter from your experience that will be heard expeditiously or will it be sometime before we get to the actual substance of the case?”

Rodwell Williams
“What matter will be heard?”

Jules Vasquez
“The substantive matter of the constitutionality?”

Rodwell Williams
“I suspect that that is some date in the future. How? I don’t know. You’ve heard the judge said that she will return a ruling as soon as she has one and then we go from there.”

As we noted in the story, Justice Michelle Arana has reserved Judgment which will be delivered at a date to be announced.

UPDATE Feb 12, 2011

Caleb Orozco, 38, the leader of the UNIBAM, the movement which has brought a constitutional challenge in the Supreme Court to decriminalize unnatural sex acts under Belizean law, was attacked on Wednesday evening, February 8.

according to the Belize Reporter

Orozco said an unidentified assailant threw a brown beer bottle at his face, while he was on Prince Street between George and West Streets between 4:30-5:50 p.m.

He told The Reporter he had walked from Basra Street towards St Ignatius School and turned onto Euphrates Avenue when he heard someone behind him say: “tell dem bally no walk pahn my street.”

He then turned right into Dean Street when he observed two men stalking him from a distance as he walked toward the Dean Street Police substation at the corner with West Street.

He said he had turned into Prince Street and had turned to see if he was still being followed when the bottle hit him on his right jaw. The bottle did not break on impact but shattered when it hit the ground, so Caleb said he could not say for sure what brand of beer it was.

He was stunned but did not fall to the ground and continued walking away from his assailants who did not pursue him further.

He consulted with his attorney, Lisa Shoman, who is representing UNIBAM in the Supreme Court, but she counselled him that reporting the assault to the police might prove a waste of time.

When Love TV’s Patrick Jones interviewed him, Orozco said he pointed out his assailant to Jones, who convinced him to make a report so the attack could be on record. Caleb said he went to the Dean St. substation and informed the officer on duty that he had been attacked and that his assailant was still just up the street, but the officer refused to leave his post to investigate, but took down his statement

Orozco was treated  for his injury at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital by Dr. Gonzalez, who certified his injury on the medico-legal form provided by the police. He said he left the hospital around 9:30 p.m. and went home to recover.

Orozco said the attack was but a small incident in the growing tide of homo-phobic violence which is sweeping the country, and he cited a litany of murders of men who had openly expressed their sexual orientation or who were believed to be homosexuals, and the numbers are indeed alarming

OHCHR: Discriminatory Laws and Practices & Acts of Violence Against Individuals Based on their Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity

The United Nations has produced its first ever report on LGBT rights. The UN Human Rights Council requested the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, to prepare the report in a resolution in June of this year.

That resolution was led by South Africa and the brave Cameroonian lawyer and LGBT rights defender Alice N’Kom said:

“I am so proud that this breakthrough was initiated by an African country, and that South Africa is standing up for human rights. Not only were they leaders at the United Nations in pushing for the passage of this historic resolution on LGBT rights, they are also setting an example for all African countries and sending a simple message : homophobia is not an African value.”

The pro-LGBT Ugandan Anglican Bishop Christopher Senyonjo said:

“They have created an “indaba” – a listening process that is familiar to Africans. They have provided the safety for many thousands of people to open deep wounds again and share their stories, experiences and aspirations.  Their courage is to be commended in the hope the next generation may not have to suffer the indignities of our blood-stained past.”

“This work represents the possibility that we can to learn to respect each other, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.  We can learn to forgive each other for our complicity in silence or for acts of violence in word and deed against LGBT people.”

“There is another African tradition whereby the spilling of the blood of another is regarded as a major taboo and should be avoided by all faithful people. The spilling of blood caused by homophobia should become our global taboo. This report is a small step towards new possibilities and hopes.”

The findings of the report are due to be presented and discussed by governments at the Human Rights Council in March 2012.

Among its most important recommendations is a call for the decriminalization of same-sex relations between consenting adults. It also notes the particular experiences of lesbians and other women who suffer violence, killings, rape and abuse, often at the hands of family and community. The report includes a call for protection and recognition of the self-identified gender of trans persons.

On refugees and asylum seekers:

  • The UN urges governments to recognize persecution based on sexual orientation and gender identity as grounds for refugee status, and to train asylum adjudicators and government officials to be sensitive to the unique challenges faced by LGBTI refugees.
  • The report recognizes the extreme vulnerability of LGBTI refugees at risk of violence both before they flee their homelands, and during the refugee status determination and resettlement process. It also calls for a more consistent approach for safeguarding the human rights of LGBTI refugees.
  • The report urges governments not to return LGBTI refugees to countries they have fled where their freedom will be threatened because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Jessica Stern, Acting Executive Director of The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission said;

“The report is a tribute to all of the activists who have fought for recognition of homophobic violence and transphobic discrimination over decades, often in the face of extreme hostility. It will serve as an invaluable aid to each one of us who seeks to advance LGBT rights – not only at the United Nations but in cities and towns around the world.”

The release of Pillay’s report follows another landmark at the United Nations, which was the 10 December international consultation organised by UNESCO to address bullying against LGBT students in educational institutions. This took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and brought together experts from UN agencies, NGOs, ministries of education and academia from more than 25 countries around the world.

All participants of the consultation agreed on a joint statement. Chinese and African representatives at the event noted the importance of both sharing experience as well as evidence gathering to develop a “solid foundation when approaching schools and policy-makers.”OHCHR: Discriminatory Laws and Practices and Acts of Violence Against Individuals Based on their Sexual Ori…

Foreign aid for African countries with anti-gay rights records to be slashed, pledges David Cameron

By DANIEL MARTIN of the Daily Mail

David Cameron has pledged to slash aid to African countries with poor records on homosexual rights.

The Prime Minister will tell struggling nations they will receive funding ‘fines’ if persecution of gays continues.

The Government has already cut aid to Malawi by £19million after two gay men were sentenced to 14 years hard labour. The southern African nation also plans to bring in tough anti-lesbian laws.

Malawi has received £200million from Britain over the past three years.

International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell could also reduce aid to Uganda and Ghana unless they drop laws against gays.

Uganda, which is due to receive £70million in 2011, plans to punish homosexuality with the death penalty

The president of Ghana, which gets £36million a year, has promised to bring in measures to ‘check the menace of homosexuality’.

However, no mention has been made of cutting aid to Zimbabwe, which got £69million last year. Gays there still face persecution from security forces.

Jailed: Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga were convicted of unnatural acts and gross indecency, and sentenced to 14 years hard labour

Jailed: Steven Monjeza and Tiwonge Chimbalanga were convicted of unnatural acts and gross indecency, and sentenced to 14 years hard labour

In May, Malawi’s first openly gay couple, Steven Monjeza, 26, and Tiwonge Chimbalanga, 20, were jailed for 14 years. They had been arrested after holding an engagement ceremony in December.

Just days ago, Mr Cameron told the Conservative Party conference that it was right to legalise gay marriage.

A spokesman for Mr Mitchell said: ‘The Government is committed to combating violence and discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in all circumstances, in this country and abroad. We take action where we have concerns.

‘We only provide aid directly to governments when we are satisfied that they share our commitments to reduce poverty and respect human rights.’
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2047254/David-Cameron-Foreign-aid-cut-anti-gay-countries.html#ixzz1aO4ZCu2E

ENDS

My two cents

But what will that do though in the long run if most states and including Jamaica outside of the region mentioned in the article have a strong beliefs or perception that homosexuality is an import and that actions such as this are forcing the hand of countries with “christian principles” and “high moral values” to capitulate to the powerful gay lobby from first world nations yet The Prime Minister David Cameron is not gay but could be viewed as a puppet in the scheme of this with the pressure coming and positions from the European Union side of things and other bodies such as the United Nations on sexual orientation.

Is forcing countries to comply the way to go?

Or hitting them economically?

I don’t think so, certainly other diplomatic methods can be employed but what about the notion that anti gay forces in the United States are in effect exporting homophobia and funding anti gay and religious fanaticism especially in parts of Africa in recent times. What does Mr. Cameron et al have to say or do about that?, these powerful backers behind such moves are said to be numerous and are some of the biggest companies and individuals allegedly. Will the UK also criticize those backers and demand they stop this kind of clandestine support or be made to stop? Can or will the UK Prime Minister stand up to the police man of the world and call it for what it is? Are we going to solve the issue of tolerance this way folks? I don’t think so, the hitting of the economic prosperity of these non compliant states as it were may only serve to bring more harm to the voices and populations on the ground who are made to pay the price as involuntary martyrs for this kind of pressure.

While I can understand the need for rights and recognition to be extended to the common man this incessant push to seemingly impose it on the rest of the problematic states is unjustified for now, I say more dialogue bearing in mind also other countries who may have similar anti gay positions and laws with dire societal consequences are watching this and may feel justified in tacitly supporting homophobic acts even more so whilst becoming hardlined on budging from their no ease on buggery positions. We saw the recent comments but the Antiguan and Barbudan Attorney General on the law there on the strength of a legal challenge mounted by a group in Belize named UNIBAM

This debate has no end soon so let us see.

Peace and tolerance

H

Trinidad Happenings: Homophobia, society effects and way forward

By Rajiv Gopie

Concluding this series on homophobia, we will look at the consequences and fallout from pronounced homophobia and ways to deal with homophobia. It is necessary to mention that just last week in Grenada, two adults males were arrested and charged with having consensual sex, a statute dating back to British rule. The island is already facing a potential tourism boycott by the estimated $55 billion dollar gay community as the story has been plastered in many left-leaning websites, blogs and newspapers. This serves as an excellent reminder that in T&T though we may not be perfect we are still much better off as a society compared to our neighbours.
Homophobia, as was discussed last week, is against all of the doctrines and morals of all major religions as they demand respecting the dignity of all human beings. The reality is that homophobia goes much deeper, usually justified by the fig leaf of religion. There is often nothing more than fear of the unknown and plain ignorance that drives people to act in most violent and hateful manners.

This pure hatred and malice has lead to GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender) teens and youths being five times more likely to commit suicide in the US. I suspect it is lower in T&T but homophobia is a pressing problem and it is just contributing to the violence and lawlessness in our nation’s schools.
Both the perpetrators and the victims may be prone to react violently and, without the services of counsellors and supportive teaching staff, rampant homophobia is being allowed to go unchecked, which may be leading to our youths killing themselves. This should shame us as a nation that we are teaching our children to hate.
One of the greatest fallouts from homophobia well-known to the United Nations and many other multilateral institutions and health organisations is that homophobia forces many gay men to remain closeted or hiding, and live a double life. They, due to societal pressure and homophobia, get married and have children but still continue having same-sex relations outside of marriage. This not only leads to a potential breakdown in family life and unhappy homes, but may encourage the spread of HIV/AIDS to their unsuspecting spouses.
The issue of homophobia being one of the main facilitators of HIV/AIDS is well known and it is indeed quite logical, since due to fear of discrimination, ridicule and shame, many GLBT people do not seek medical help and attention and are not able to access the information and resources such as condoms in order to practice safe sex.

It may seem that I am mixing the two issues, but they are interconnected as homophobia is the force that drives GLBT people to live sham lives or try to live outside the norm and suffer discrimination.
In many ways, homophobia is HIV’s best friend.
A wide host of social problems, including alcohol abuse, drug abuse, high divorce rates, broken homes, family tensions, etc, can be attributed to in some part to homophobia and the ways that its castigates GBLT individuals and forces them to live a lie or be marginalised. It is imperative we deal with homophobia at all levels if we are to afford dignity, respect and tolerance for all of our fellow citizens.
Now data from a national survey seems to suggest there is very little appetite nationally for gay rights, but statistics are misleading and the devil is always in the details.
The bell-weather of social change can always be traced to the attitudes of the intelligentsia and the youth population of any era. Now it seems that support stands around 40 per cent. This may seem worrying, but when looking at the details it is far from discouraging. In our conservative, semi-religious and silent culture, we have levels of support at 40 per cent, which is amazing considering gay rights are not even spoken of.

In liberal America where this issue has been a hot button public debate for decades, support stands at 60 per cent and in some extremely liberal Western European nations, support for gay rights is at 70 per cent, as low estimates. We then are not doing so bad and, as time progresses and our nation continues to interact with the outside world and explore itself, support will increase and the old prejudices will die off, they may linger but they will be relegated to the shadows and the mumblings of unhappy people.
Dealing with homophobia will prove very difficult as it is deeply engrained in some people and the change cannot be forced nor coerced. The change will have to be born in society, amongst the youths and the educated, amongst the free thinking, the returning expatriates and from the political class.

The GBLT community also has a responsibility to help themselves by educating their family members and loved ones that there is nothing to fear from GLBT people.
It is because many GLBT people “came out” and lived openly in Western Europe and the US and people came to realise that their sons and daughters, co-workers, doctors, lawyers, neighbours, grocers, cousins and friends were GLBT, that homophobia was reduced and gay rights were won.

I am not calling for a mass coming out, as “coming out” is a personal thing, but each GBLT person should try to change their loved ones and close friends and a domino effect will occur. There is no policy, no law that can force tolerance. They may help, but they are passed when the groundwork has been done; not before.
Homophobia is not some secondary issue that can be pushed to the back, it warrants the attention of the best and brightest and of all society. It is an issue that has the potential to shame us as a nation or make us feel proud that we come to respect the rights of some of the most marginalised in society.
Trinidad and Tobago has always been a land of equality and dignity. There is no doubt these values will win out in the end.
• Rajiv Gopie won the President’s Medal for business studies/modern studies in 2006. He is an HBA candidate in international studies and social/cultural anthropology at the University of Toronto, Canada.

rajivgopie@hotmail.com

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

 

Vienna AIDS 2010: Global Health Leaders Say Stigma Exacerbates HIV Epidemic Among Black Gay/Bi Men

By Rod McCullom

July 22, 2010

AIDS 2010: Global Health Leaders Say Stigma Exacerbates HIV Epidemic Among Black Gay/Bi Men Vienna, Austria — From pre-conference events to the massive human rights march through downtown Vienna, world leaders, public health experts and HIV activists honed in with laser-like precision on a common message at The 18th International AIDS Conference in Vienna : The ongoing persecution and criminalization of gay, bisexual and other men who have sex with men — “MSM”, in public health shorthand — are undermining efforts to control the global HIV/AIDS pandemic.

Chief among the obstacles: More than 80 nations have laws that still criminalize same sex behavior. In some of these countries, conviction can even result in the death penalty, reports UNAIDS.

Further exacerbating the problem, according to a report by Planned Parenthood, “58 countries have laws that criminalize HIV or use existing laws to prosecute people for transmitting the virus. Another 33 countries are considering similar legislation.’

The trend is “even more pronounced” across Africa and the Diaspora, said Joel Gustave Nana, executive director of the Johannesburg, South Africa-based African Men for Sexual Health and Rights (ASMSHer). The West African laws vary in extremity — just “exposing a person to HIV, regardless of if the virus is transmitted, is a crime in Benin, and Tanzanian law carries a possible sentence of life in prison for intentional transmission,” reports Medical News Today. While the overall life for Black MSM may be better for in North America, there are drawbacks. The United States and Canada lead the world when it comes to prosecuting people who infect or expose others to HIV, a surprising new study reveals. Black men have been disproportionately targeted with these prosecutions. A Black, gay, HIV positive Michigan man was recently as charged as a bioterrorist for allegedly biting a neighbor’s lip during a scuffle, Black AIDS Weekly reported in June.

“The prosecutions are arbitrary,” said Nana, in an interview after a press conference organized by The Global Forum on MSM & HIV. On Sunday, the day before the conference officially opened, the Global Forum held a 24-hour event to address the soaring global rates of MSM seroconversions.

“The stigma, discriminatory laws and criminalization of HIV transmission encourage the spread of this disease,” adds Nana. “Why should someone seek testing or medical advice come forward if you could be arrested? There is no incentive.”

The fear of “coming out”, pop culture which celebrates homophobia and churches and churchgoers that demonize gay Black men compound the problem for black MSM in America, the Caribbean and Africa.

“This is the context in which you have a runaway, dangerous HIV epidemic in Jamaica,” adds Robert Dr. Robert Carr, the co-chair of ICASO, the International Council of AIDS Service Organizations (ICASO). “There is a clear link between religious condemnation, criminalization, stigma and HIV infections. We see this all the time in the Caribbean.”

Carr adds: “Politicians and church leaders endorse homophobic violence. Police refuse to protect MSM or are complicit or directly involved in the violence,” he said, referring to a now-infamous incident of a 2,000-strong mob surrounding several gay men and stoning them. The police were called to the scene and the officers also struck the young men.

Carr sighs. “With Jamaican MSM infection rates at 32 or 33 percent, it became obvious that you couldn’t do effective HIV work in this context.”

Although a state sponsored, religious-based terror campaign has targeted African MSM from Algeria to Zimbabwe, there are some positive developments to report from AIDS 2010.

“We now have 14 countries out of 54 that include men who have sex with men in their national HIV strategic plans,” AMSHer’s Joel Nana said. “It doesn’t mean the services will be delivered to those populations, but it is an acknowledgment. That’s a first step.”

“Kenya was the first African nation to include MSM in their national HIV strategy,” Nairobi-based peer educator Job Akuno told Black AIDS Weekly. Akuno is a counselor with the Nairobi-based SHAP, Scaling Up HIV and AIDS Prevention, partially funded by PEPFAR, the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. “That was in 2006. But … it seems like we are rolling back on some of the gains that we made.”

“Kenya is starting to look like one of the countries that we should look up to,” Nana adds. “The HIV movement is more open to include MSM. And there is a strong MSM movement in Kenya, too . It is one of the few countries in Africa where a MSM organization was able to place an ad in the newspaper for the International Day Against Homophobia on May 17.”

Akuno says the HIV Prevention and Control Act criminalizes deliberate HIV transmission. “The sentences are up to 10 years. No one has been prosecuted, but now there is talk to make the law harsher. If you criminalize HIV transmission or only target MSM, that will further stigmatize the disease and drive many people into not wanting to know their results. ”

Job Akuno shrugs. “What can you do but hope for the best?”

Rod McCullom, a writer and television news producer, blogs on Black gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender news and pop culture at rod20.com.

Gay victim ‘was called a batty man’

The gay man who died after being attacked in Trafalgar Square last autumn was called a “batty man” before he was kicked and stamped on, the Old Bailey heard.

Ian Baynham, 62, died in hospital on October 13th 2009, several weeks after he suffered head injuries while on a night out.

Joel Alexander, 19, of Thornton Heath, south London, Rachel Burke, 18, of Three Oaks, East Sussex, and Ruby Thomas, 18, of Lichfield, Staffs, all deny manslaughter, while Burke denies a separate charge of committing actual bodily harm.

Today, the Old Bailey heard that Mr Baynham fell “like a corpse” when Alexander allegedly punched him.

The victim had been walking through Trafalgar Square holding hands with a male friend, Phillip Brown.

Thomas, who was sitting on a wall, then allegedly started shouting homophobic abuse at the pair, calling them “batty men” and “faggots”.

Mr Baynham is said to have challenged her and was then floored by a punch from Alexander.

Alexander allegedly walked off while Mr Baynham was left on the ground.

Eyewitnesses said that the two girls than began kicking and stamping on the victim in the head and chest as he lay unconscious and bleeding.

When Burke and Thomas ran off, Mr Brown gave chase and pulled Burke to the ground by her hair, the court heard.

But a passerby thought he was attacking her and separated them as she punched Mr Brown in the face.

The three are then said to have fled to the South Bank before returning to their respective homes.

Yesterday, prosecutor Brian Altman QC compared the alleged incident to scenes of violence from A Clockwork Orange, the 1970s film which caused outrage on its release.

He said: “The story of this case is an all too familiar depressing tale of drunken, loutish behaviour, but what these defendants did that night went far beyond mere antisocial behaviour.

“Two of them are teenage girls, fuelled by copious amounts of alcohol. They confronted Mr Baynham with abuse and then together with Joel Alexander they jointly participated in a violent attack on a defenceless man in public.”