Gay & Bisexual Intimate Partner Violence, Homophobic Incidents & Crisis Communication

Crisis communications

Crisis communication is not intended to answer all questions or fill all needs it is just a basic outline of options you might consider if and when you are in the midst of a crisis and need help.

Crisis is any situation that threatens the integrity or reputation of your company or NGO, usually brought on by adverse or negative media attention. These situations can be any kind of legal dispute, and misrepresentations that could be attributed to your company. It can also be a situation where in the eyes of the media or general public your company did not react to one of the above situations in the appropriate manner. This definition is not all encompassing but rather is designed to give you an idea for the types of situations where you may need to follow a plan.

For purposes of this post the omission of same gender loving women in large part is not intentional or meant to exclude them but as there are hardly any documented records of such instances but more so on the side of MSM in my archives, men who have sex with men in the broader context. Exploitative same sex relational matters do often result in some injury from an unconfirmed standpoint when the grapevine system gets wind of them but when jealousy is the reason those conflicts tend not to often lead to a murder, it seems that there has been a preoccupation with more powerful or middle class victims whose cases are used to legitimize homophobia as if only such persons suffer same.  A discussion of sorts has carried on in response to a Gleaner letter some days ago where the writer implored LGBT persons to report incidents to predominantly JFLAG while trying to differentiate intimate partner violence from genuine homophobic cases.

There is more than enough evidence to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt homophobia in Jamaica

Here is the letter firstly: Gays Should Report Violent Encounters

THE EDITOR, Sir:

One of the more unnoticed effects of living in a heteronormative society is the lack of information on, and services for, victims and perpetrators of violence in gay relationships.

This issue is almost as taboo in the (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) LGBT community as homosexuality is in the wider society. There are already so many negative stigmas attached to gay couples that no one wants to publicly voice that there are instances of violence in many gay relationships.

In the same way that men and women abuse each other in heterosexual relationships, they abuse each other in gay relationships, too. Such violence has come to be known as intimate partner violence (IPV) and is defined as physical, sexual or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse.

Due to the nature of gay relationships, especially in Jamaica, many victims and perpetrators of such violence are reluctant to seek help or report incidents of violence in their relationships to the police. IPV can have devastating effects on LGBT people who are already prone to other types of violence at the hands of homophobic people, especially in conservative societies. Many are also reluctant to speak out about it because of the lack of shelters for victims, the general negative sentiment towards gay people, and for some, the fear of being ‘outed’ as gay.

counselling

While this fear is understandable, it is important that victims report incidents of violence, and that perpetrators seek help through counselling to reduce and eliminate IPV. I am encouraging all LGBT people to report all incidents of violence, whether as a result of bullying or IPV, to the police as well as to Jamaica Forum of Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG). And I want to use this opportunity to reiterate that J-FLAG does not condone any type of violence against any person regardless of their sexual identity.

The LGBT community and allies need to be a support system for those in need – both victims and perpetrators – and encourage people to speak out against all types of violence, both in and out of relationships.

P. ANDREW, pgjen_13@hotmail.com, St James

Sadly it seems as implied in this letter a fall in reporting from persons affected by homophobic violence or is JFLAG now finally trying to get its act together when it comes to proper data collection and archiving with evidence of same. I have been openly critical of the incident reporting mechanism they had when I went there as Admin Finance Officer doubling as Crisis Intervention and the poor record keeping of files and incomplete reports of some serious incidents at times, I had to do some major overhauling of the forms and files at the time, examples include persons with injuries yet no photos, police station reports (even rejected visits or cop service number and times) or supporting pictures or documents such as receipts from clinics or prescriptions for injury treatment or dressing and drugs added to the file to make it substantive, the follow up visits that the form calls for at the end before the file is closed or handed over to the relevant person is often blank for many cases. This poor recording keeping or data collection has had and seems to continue to have a serious dent on the all important crisis communication when it comes to public advocacy.

Crisis communication is such as important piece for Jamaica LGBTQ advocacy and more details of cases (barring names or use of pseudonyms) must be brought forward. Nearly 80% of the clients I interviewed who came into the JFLAG office to file reports the session(s) were recorded on audio, unfortunately those were lost as my successor I gathered did not monitor the files and the systems crashed with the files lost forever, so much for simple good administration.

The cynicism and disbelief from anti gay groups, religious fanatics and even legislators is clear over the years with support from media, public commentators and even the police high command dismissing prominent cases as lovers’ quarrels and these major cases are used to justify dismissing any others that have a homosexual involved while not taking into account every case on its own merit. The deceptive use of non homophobic cases by some LGBT lobbyists over the life of the struggle has not helped any either as it only seeks to reinforce the resolve by anti gay voices as we are viewed as liars when such public agitation takes place. Uncompleted court cases for example that of the John Terry matter from 2009 though the stalling at the preliminary hearing level has already revealed some familiarity with the accused and the deceased despite a note was left suggesting death for homosexuals, alleged used condoms were also said to have been found in the home, whether they have evidence of the persons therein is still unclear. The Dean Moriah matter as well sadly who was murdered earlier this year yet long before the investigations were completed some overseas based advocates rushed to judgement and paraded the matter as a homophobic incident even as the trial creeps in our court system, by the time the police high command responded the blanket dismissal of homophobic killings was the subtext of the response hence implying dishonesty by LGBT advocates and a feeling that Jamaica has been falsely labelled as homophobic.

see: September 18 for Dean Moriah Matter 

The mistrust of local advocates I fear still seems to exist in some 7 reports I have received by phone, social media and through other groups when persons are asked to engage JFLAG for example persons simply refuse and even go as far as to label the group as classist and not interested in assisting certain types of persons or feeling that their matter won’t be dealt with as they think it should. This mistrust challenge has been a concern from long before my time at the entity as while there I had a serious task gaining the trust of persons to release their inhibitions and make their reports, this leads to gross under-reporting. This is where our same gender loving sisters come in where there is a feeling that JFLAG is only for males and hence many women who are the subject of abuse, violence (corrective rape) and increasing forced evictions do not come forward.

Exploitative same sex relations as hinted above are also of significant import as men who do not identify as “gay” in the Jamaican context as “bad man” feel threatened in some way as the description (fear of feminization of any sort) for some and power differentials that obtain in this unions of sorts played out in violence for purposes of control. A constant in most of the cases over the years is the class issues right before us, there is usually a middle to high income or relatively comfortable gay man who ends up being the deceased versus a hyper-masculine type from the lower socio economic classes who often do not take any personal items of the victim after the fact and sometimes ends up using the gay panic defence strategy to suggest some sort of implied sodomatical attack to justify the self defence response to kill the person. These same hyper-masculine types have a real fear of exposure in their own class or community so the relations with other more powerful or resourced men is crucial which is also pegged on the belief gay men are more resourced and will pay for such sexual relations.

There maybe is some truth to that as to maintain stealth/secrecy some exchange may occur but the misogynistic view pegged to masculinity by Jamaican standards men do not want to feel subservient to another or in a weakened position so when something changes in that union riddled with a constant power struggle (the so called monied or resourced gay man controlling the union or sex versus the masculine prowess of the hyper-masculine brother maintaining his ground) leads to some violence as the lower resourced man responds the way he knows how that is violence as we are well taught in Jamaica so to do. Any form of disrespect is often met with a violent reaction and seeing that gay men aren’t seen as real men by general social standards the aggressor feels justified in carrying out the attack even using homophobic slurs in doing so despite the intimate familiarity between the parties. These types of cases have factored in the public domain more so than others especially owing to the fact that the victims are prominent citizens or foreigners such as UK Consul John Terry or local Ambassador Peter King, Julius Nelson (son of oppositions spokesman on National Security Dwight Nelson),

Philanthropist, community legend and party promoter Michael Melbourne victim of a trick by a hyper-masculine type
Philanthropist, community legend and party promoter Michael Melbourne victim of a trick by a hyper-masculine type

Micheal Melbourne (community influential) murdered at his apartment on Worthington Avenue or Brian Williamson whose killer “Wingee” was a part of the MSM population who also died in his own apartment. The Brian Williamson case though the motive turned out not to be a homophobic one directly the response from the public is where the evidence is strong of the homo-negative feelings that run in the Jamaican psyche, persons literally rejoiced the morning outside the building as the undertakers and police cordoned off the area to collect the body and process the crime scene. Most of those cases above have remained in the public domain for so long while not having direct homophobic causations that they inform how members of the public judge new cases as non homophobic matters.

“Steve” Lenford Harvey matter just ended with sentencing shortly but the motive is still a bit unclear as robbery seems as the original causation but upon discovery of photos on a laptop it morphed into something else with an added homophobic feature. Also see: 2 Found Guilty Of The Murder Of AIDS Activist, Steve Harvey, Sentencing September 26

Gully Queen
Transgender murder victim “Gully Queen” whose case was labelled as a homophobic case …. misdirected homophobia towards a gender non-conformist should be the correct sub-text in describing this one I suggest

also see: Female cisgender imperative thwarted: 17 year old pre-op transgender woman murdered

The Dwayne Jones murder mistmatch in its reporting has not helped either as (s)he was a transwoman but mistakenly took for a gay man crossed dressed in  a public space with a deceptive motive to trick straight males at an outdoor entertainment event in a rural district. Some activists said he was gay and used that to justify the public advocacy while others said the correct gender identity which confused some folks so some Jamaicans and public commentators simply dismissed the whole as a another gay deception with a satisfactory outcome believe or not.  The outrage that was to have been displayed was not evident except by sections of the LGBT populations.  A recent television special one year since the murder shows up the carelessness frankly of Gully Queen herself and friends that faithful night but who is going to say it openly? that in a sense she gave her own life away in a sense as they clearly thought they understood how to “pass” in public which clearly they didn’t.  See that documentary HERE …….. Host Dionne Jackson Miller takes a look at the issues of the murder of Dwayne Jones aka Gully Queen one year ago and some other related issues to do with homelessness, displacements and forced evictions of LGBT youths with guests, issues to do with passing in public, honesty & integrity about one’s real gender scream for attention in this presentation which warrants better programs from LGBTQ advocacies & interventions specific to transgender individuals navigating public life in Jamaica as misdirected homophobic violence can lead to more incidents such as the tragic murder of Gully Queen,

Other genuine cases also having persons of lesser ilk have not been put to good use to prove the active homophobia in Jamaica when it occurs in more meaningful ways, the cross dresser beating in Trelawny have been overplayed that it has no impact anymore in a sense, the JFLAG listing of cases it did some years ago only show numbers, no outcomes in terms of which were solved. There are several other cases that can be made to help the public to differentiate genuine crimes with a homophobic motive versus crimes of passion as the others are called by detractors.  Cases such as the Manchester mobbing in January 2008 comes to mind complete with photos I took of the victim when I took the report, the lesbian picketing matter in St Catherine some years ago also has photos, the stabbing incident of a transman in Half Way Tree in full view of persons is also another with strong evidence. He now resides in Canada.

LGBT History - Hated to Death Report 2004, Human Rights Watch
Now deceased man who was chopped in Trelawney in November 2002 and featured in the Human Rights Watch Report “Hated To Death” 2004

There are several points reports can be made:

The Police in some instances do take reports the problem is there are still old feelings of hate and stereotyping in the force that needs removing.

Aphrodite’s P.R.I.D.E Jamaica catering to lesbian, transgender and bisexual persons but does engage MSM via crisis intervention and has aided persons in resolving matters.

GLBTQ Jamaica of which this blog is apart continues to receive, engage persons and make referrals to those who make reports or know of incidents for the past 7 years via yours truly, Tel: 1-876-813-4942

I still recommend JFLAG despite their issues.

Quality Citizenship Jamaica, QCJ which is a lesbian, bisexual women entity more so for advocacy but they do some crisis intervention.

Peace and tolerance

also see more crisis communication related posts from sister blogs:  So Dean Moriah’s murder was NOT a homophobic killing ……. ethical issues in advocacy arise yet again

Gay Lobby May Have Lost Potential Allies (Gleaner Letter) Indeed

NO GAY RAGE – Homosexuals Are Not Targeted For Violent Crime, Say Experts

Gleaner claims new backlash towards the gay lobby due to MSM homelessness in Kingston

Jamaica Observer deliberately aiding the further discrediting of the remaining LGBTQ credibility in public advocacy……

Police crack College of Agriculture, Science and Education lecturer murder

Betty Ann Blaine on the big gay lie ..

Betty Ann Blaine on Poverty, children and the Buggery Law …. and that awful confusion of homosexuality with pedophilia 

Questions on murder/buggery case in court

The failure to address or tweak the crisis communication aspect of public advocacy is what has slowed our progress greatly in public advocacy that could have been made.

H

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Jamaica Civil Society Coalition’s Chair on “Church Can’t Take Refuge In Buggery Law”

Paul Gardner

Christians attend an anti-buggery rally in Half-Way Tree Square on June 29. The gathering was spearheaded by a church group called CAUSE. - Norman Grindley/Chief Photographer

Christians attend an anti-buggery rally in Half-Way Tree Square on June 29. The gathering was spearheaded by a church group called CAUSE. – Norman Grindley/Chief Photographer

Also see: The Jamaica Civil Society Coalition (JCSC) response to anti-gay mass meeting comes late in the day (Observer Editorial)


Ever since Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller intimated her intention to review the buggery law, the discussion has increased on the buggery law, in particular, and homosexuality in general. It is both a philosophical and theological debate that if not managed or moderated properly, runs the risk of leaving many casualties behind.

I am reminded quite recently reading Neville Callam’s book, Deciding Responsibly: Moral Dimension of Human Action, about the great moral debate concerning the proposal for unwed teachers to be given maternity leave with pay in the 1970s. A very large section of the Church and the Jamaica Teachers’ Association issued press releases denouncing the Government’s proposal.

Callam observed that it was a few church leaders who met with the Government and brokered a cessation of hostility, and the rest is history.

Historically, crusaders are never winners. Winners stand on the bedrock of love mediated through God’s grace, a grace that none of us can truly fully comprehend or articulate.

Veteran journalist Ian Boyne, last year in an article, appropriately laid down the gauntlet for the debate to continue. Says he, “In my view, Christians have to separate the political from the philosophical. I don’t believe the Christian – or Muslim – majority should impose their will on minorities.”

Our legal framework, including our Constitution, is grounded in the Judaeo-Christian philosophy. What this means in fundamental terms is that biblical thoughts have influenced the way laws are shaped and behaviour normalised in much of the former British Empire. If one agrees with this view, it must also be agreed that this was the basic assumption for much of the Western civilisation.

Society has evolved from this core principle of the Judaeo-Christian ethic of ‘being’ and in ‘relationship with the other’ and has been moving towards a rights-based approach to being in the world and in relationship with each. This Judaeo-Christian biblical philosophy approach gave legitimisation to slavery, the apartheid system, and many other atrocities for which the Church has repented.

Religious assumptions

Even in declaring this fact, it is not to be assumed that such an approach will, of necessity, be flawed, but rather to recognise that even in our search for wholeness and truth, sometimes we are passionately off target and blinded by our own fury, interpretation and belief.

There are some fundamental principles within Western society that we take for granted – and some of these are normal, acceptable behaviour or conduct – however, in some societies, these are socially and legally unacceptable. The reasons, for the most part, are grounded in a set of religious assumptions that are not acceptable within the Judaeo-Christian philosophical and theological thought. As Westerners, we readily detest the Shari’a laws for very good reasons.

Western societies have to wrestle with secularism and changes in laws globally that do not necessarily reflect our traditionally Judaeo-Christian assumptions. This sweeping modernism – others would say secularism – has caused a tsunami of panic not only in the Caribbean, but in the developed, industrialised nations.

The liberalisation of laws on homosexuality within those societies did not happen overnight, but has been a long struggle and deep debate between the traditional Judaeo-Christian ideas and values within the context of growing secularism, in general, and the issues of human rights, in particular.

There are, therefore, some fundamental questions that must be placed within the debate, the push-back and the tension between the fundamentalist Judaeo-Christian philosophical thoughts, and the human rights approach to issues.

1. Can we say that we love each other unconditionally?

2. Do we really know enough about each other to the extent that we see others as equally loved and valued by God?

3. Should the homosexual act be an offence under the law?

There is no easy way out or Bible-thumping of views to these simple but profound questions. At the end of the debate, we must decide whether a society is going to be governed by laws that are universally consistent and respectful of its people (the common-good approach to moral decision making); or whether the decision will be taken to provide the greatest good to the majority (the utilitarian approach); or whether the decision will be based on the rights to privacy by consenting adults (the rights approach to ethical decision-making); or whether the focus will be on what kind of persons we want to develop and what kind of community we want to create (the virtue approach); or whether we will decide on the justice approach, which seeks to gauge the fairness of an action, not only for the majority, but for the minority.

All of these approaches to ethical decision-making must be brought into the debate because in a secular society, the views of the faith community and its interpretation of the text are important but not exclusive.

Says Desmond Tutu in his book God is not a Christian: “I am proud that in South Africa, when we won the chance to build our own new constitution, the human rights of all have been explicitly enshrined in our laws. My hope is that one day this will be the case all over the world, and that all will have equal rights. For me, this struggle is a seamless robe. Opposing apartheid was a matter of justice. Opposing discrimination against women is a matter of justice. Opposing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is a matter of justice.”

Gospel of justice

The issue of homosexuality raises the emotional temperature and causes even the unbeliever to resort to the Bible. People like Tutu recognised such reality and preach a gospel of justice and unconditional regard for all those who are oppressed within our midst.

My views and beliefs as a Christian must contend with those who do not share my views or my faith. At the end of the day, the Christian cannot seek refuge or protection in state legislation. And yet, the Christian, as well as the non-Christian or those who are Christians but disagree with a particular church position, has all rights to free expression and public demonstration. This right behoves each side to be reasonable and moderate in its utterances.

The Church will only win followers by and through its unconditional love of the ‘other’ and the witness of God’s redeeming grace. It doesn’t have to ‘accept’, but it must tolerate and recognise the complexity of the society and acknowledge how much is not yet known.

In this period when the temperature rises, let us find common ground for sober reflection that will engender an atmosphere of mutual respect, care and consideration for each other as we debate and express our views. In the end, we are all Jamaicans entitled to the protection of the law and all should be free to self-determine, to accept or reject, but still love without condition.

Homosexuality is not illegal in Jamaica; buggery is. But buggery is an act that occurs not only between males, but between females and males. However, when you listen to the discussion, the greater concern is the men who have sex with men (MSM). I think that Parliament should take another look at this dated act in light of other issues pertaining to the Offences against the Person Act.

The Rev Dr Paul Gardner is president of the Moravian Church, former president of the Moravian Church Worldwide, and former president of the Jamaica Council of Churches. He also chairs the Jamaica Civil Society Coalition. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and pgardner@cwjamaica.com.