JFLAG’s needs to accept some responsibility for the Trafalgar Murders ….. homelessness not properly addressed

Calls on the PM to act despite her seemingly tolerant stance especially in today’s economic reality with austerity and political careers on the line are certainly going to be ignored, sorry but that is the reality in my view well crafted press releases and letters to the editor as the one in today’s Jamaica Observer without any serious interventions in the very community it says it represents is so evidencial of the lack of interest in addressing lgbt homelessness and displacement overall over the 14 year plus life of the J. Where are the residential/rehabilitation typed facilities for the homeless and displaced sections of the lgbt population that are urgently needed, why did we have to wait till a murder makes mainstream news to finally hear from JFLAG on such issues?  In as far as a timeline we saw this matter of homelessness during my more active times on the streets especially in the younger msm populations explode in 2007 and after due to a party dvd that went public thus exposing many persons who had to flee their communities to Kingston predominantly as the event took place in St Ann at the time, two persons were said to have lost their lives soon after due to the exposure.

The very title of the press release and subsequent letter GAYS SADDENED BY RECENT MURDERS, CALL ON PRIME MINISTER TO ACT suggests a kind of aloofness as if JFLAG is not a homosexual representative group, after all the use of the word “Gays” usually connotates a kind of contempt from homophobes or persons on some anti gay agenda or separatism, why use that in addressing this emotive matter? the section that described the group as “these people” is a bit troubling to me. No political party is going to take on that right now as was hinted to by a member of parliament (see PNP’s Damion Crawford says it’s highly unlikely buggery review will happen …….. it’s not important now he concludes) as far as I am concerned we will have to address our issues ourselves for now with all the access to resources we have especially in the programmatic arenas and again I ask where are the behaviour change experts in the field?

Police investigators at the crime scene on Trafalgar Road in St Andrew the morning of June 13th. – Norman Grindley

All this madness happening in pride month makes me wonder what is there to be proud of at this juncture of our history?

Here is the Observer letter that was published today:

Gays call on PM to listen to their cries

Dear Editor,

The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community is deeply saddened and concerned by the recent murders of gay men within the last three months. We, the community and allies, send our condolences to the loved ones, friends and families of these people.

We are concerned about the high levels of crime and violence across Jamaica. We condemn these and other grotesque murders of people, which continue to threaten peace, citizen security and justice in Jamaica.

Members of the LGBT community have reported to J-FLAG that eight gay men have been murdered within the last three months bringing to the fore the reality that despite progress towards greater tolerance, the LGBT community continues to be at great risk of violence.

Among the most recent attacks against the gay community was the savage killing of two young men. The men were apparently brutally murdered with blunt instruments in the vicinity of the intersection of Trafalgar Road and Lady Musgrave Road. People who are homeless frequented this area. Among them are young gay men who have been made homeless because of the continued intolerance of homosexuality in Jamaica.

While the motive for these latest senseless killings remains unclear, we expect that the government and police will thoroughly investigate all crimes, thereby mitigating their impact on all Jamaicans, regardless of socio-economic status, disability, health status, sexual orientation or gender identity. We stand ready to partner with the police to bring justice and respect to those whose right to life has been violated.

We also ask the Jamaican public and media to allow the police to conduct their investigations and resist the urge to judge the victims or the motive of their deaths. Let us instead recognise the inherent dignity of every person and respect that should be accorded to every living being while demanding the same justice for these men that we all deserve.

We call on the prime minister and the ministers of national security and labour and social security to listen to the cries and needs of members of our community who continue to be subjected to discrimination and violence, have nowhere to live and no food to eat because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

As we work collectively towards achieving Vision 2030, we invite all Jamaicans to embrace our common humanity and demonstrate respect for the lives of all people as we help make Jamaica, the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business.

Dane Lewis


Executive Director, J-FLAG


PO Box 1152


Kingston 8




I hope that this murder is NOT paraded as a homophobic murder by the establishment as it is not as the alleged killer is also a member of the community. Intra and Inter community reasons are said to be the cause here with homelessness playing a major role.

Albeit the closure of the Safe House Pilot Project which was set up by a previous Executive Director of JFLAG’s parent Jamaica AIDS Support for Life, JASL still has a bad taste in many person’s mouths including the very men at the time who were made homeless again for reasons among which was the so called bad behaviour of the very men who were housed therein in 2010. JFLAG during the tumultuous time said or did nothing to stop the subtle eviction as one would have expected from any independent non aligned advocacy structure would have done on behalf of its representative groups that is claims to speak for. Fast forward to June 13 and all the mess and fallouts and even other deaths not so reported by the mainstream press in between as these two victims have recieved, it took this for JFLAG to finally talk about homelessness? while pretending to be so concerned about the group when bloggers, other activists, influentials and even other NGOs have been questioning over the years since the closure of the Safe House Project aforementioned where is the group during the struggles of the men to survive on their own despite their “bad behaviour?” especially the fact that the men were not far away from the offices of the organization whilst attacks, chases and beatings persisted with very little concern shown.

Let us also not forget: Rowdy gays banned by J-FLAG, JASL ………

Yes there is some truth that the men do call unto themselves uneeded heat as they can be loud and extraverted especially the effeminate members of the population which has led to some homo-negative press and homophobic violence but aren’t the two organizations above equipped with qualified behaviour change experts who ought to have at least understood anticedences when it comes to “bad behaviour hence leading to proper interventions?”

Why did we have to wait until two young promising lives are snuffed out before we see some media shenanigans from JFLAG? these two brothers were younger members of the displaced community who were alleged to be involved in commercial sex work as well. It smacks of a kind of opportunistic activity here by the J to use this issue as it has with other media episodes on LGBT life to present itself as concerned when the realities clearly indicate otherwise.

Why are most things just a press release or a set of letters to the editors and very little grass roots work to address inter and intra community issues?

Let us not forget the politics surrounding the two organizations named and the interior set up, it is important to note that they are all interlinked hence the description coined by some as the incestuous mess, could this be another reason why we can’t see any proper interventions to address homelessness separate and apart from the seemingly manufactured excuse that both groups do not have the resources to do that kind of work not to mention the apologists who are quick on the draw since these two murders and some question of accountability being brought into the subsequent discourse on social media and on the party scenes.

The other issue as well that the J has been getting some flack whether it knows it or not is the matter of gay for pay as alleged in another gruesome murder of a community member just a day before the Trafalgar matter where some have been asking where is the presence on the ground in knowing community members and or at least the cruising communities so as to identify and if not have preemptive workshops on how to negotiate sex with the hypermasculine DL segment of the MSM populations. Certainly JFLAG and other representative groups need to step up their game this is not the late nineties when the community was gullible and hid behind the body as it spoke on our behalf supposedly, things and times have changed drastically some for the better some for the worse and the representation needs to change with it while becoming really effective and not just a press release factory in what some say is a kind of intellectual duplicity.

JFLAG (and its affiliate Jamaica AIDS Support for LIFE) needs to accept some responsibility in the Trafalgar murders, simply put it has failed miserably in addressing homelessness and displacement especially in the last two plus years since the closure of the pilot Safe House Project, it kept disturbingly quiet when the ultimatum was issued and project was closed and the first of two civil disobedience actions by the men although it was clear the men in the shelter at the time would have been made homeless yet again coupled with new additions as more young msms become displaced hence homeless afterwards due to forced evictions and homophobia, not to mention the use of the very space that was the shelter to become the J’s present office. It cannot function independently of JASL or even the sister group Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition as the principals of these two groups have some connection to the J in some instances showing clear conflict of interest so matters that are deemed not important in their eyes at the time just simply do not get attended to, a fact known to many who have gone through the systems. The belief or perception also that the “bad behaving men” are somehow unworthy of any serious support is tacitly supported by the J it seems as they are silent as per usual on matters of homelessness except one sluggish radio interview in 2011 in radio Jamaica’s Beyond The Headlines where the group’s Executive Director then alongside the current ED of Jamaica AIDS Support for Life tried to paint a picture as if they tried other programs such as a gardening project to which the men barely responded, this suggests to me a mindset that the men must accept any little thing that is handed to them no matter how insignificant or paltry it may seem but the question comes again where are the behaviour change experts who know that this population needs more than just a handout or patchwork half house typed facilities without the proper basic psycho social support?

To suggest that it cares about the plight of persons despite socio economic status smacks on a kind of hypocrisy that exists overall in the LGBT community, we know fully well the elitism and classism that runs counter to all that is to be wholesome and these factors even affect how business is done, the vast majority of activists in its midst have never been exposed to the real life issues surrounding stigma and especially displacement/homelessness so they do not exert any willingness to engage such populations, as one community member said it recently near the murder site educated upper middle income folks speaking on behalf of ordinary people …………. this suggests a disconnect in my view, a problem that must be addressed if there is to be any movement in real grassroots work amongst the least of us.

Many persons including myself would love to support any properly thought through and laid out programs to address homelessness in particular but given just some of the challenges as hinted to above how can we get there without some serious paradigm shifts happening? ……………… while our brothers (and sisters as the case maybe) languish and suffer sometimes in silence, if this matter did not get the media spotlight we probably would not have heard a thing from the J, apart from the 8 persons tragically taken from us since this year some of which have made mainstream news there were two other murders in the New Kingston area as well at the other base where substance abusers and homeless persons also use, this was confirmed just days before the Trafalgar matter made news but was not highlighted in the press.

see more on that HERE: Homeless population continues to spiral ….. and Murder, Homelessness and fallouts …………….

Other community influentials have become weary as well due to all the issues surrounding the men over the years so they too have contributed to the aloofness towards to populations, the scholarship program started by some have since wained and the feeding programs have died in the water, the recent Green Gables troubles with the subsequent mobbing in front of the popular theatre and the added Chicken n Things incident has not helped any. The murder also of one of the private donors towards some support for those who want to return to some sort of schooling has greatly affected what little avenue was available to assist if not one member of the group.

So much to ponder on regarding our homeless populations and where to go, the ethical and moral considerations are not too far behind, if we are to be credible with all the letters, thesis, scholarships and impressionable radio interviews will all be for naught if we do not treat with balance the real marginalized amongst us, how can we ask for tolerance from the mainstream when we are so contemptuous of our lesser populations, we already have enough on our plates from the anti gay establishments then this towards our own?

here is a synopsis in audio:

Peace and tolerance


Legalising buggery provision in the Sexual Offences bill – Opposition

Source: RJR
The Opposition on Friday warned that the Government might end up legalising buggery through the back door because of a provision in the new Sexual Offences Bill.

Opposition Senator Navel Clarke who was making his contribution to debate on the bill in the Senate Friday morning, pointed to a clause in the bill which introduces into law a new crime called grievous sexual assault.

The bill sets out specific circumstances in which grievous sexual assault can be committed to include the penetration of the anus and vagina without consent.

However Senator Clarke argued that the inclusion of the phrase ‘without consent’ implies that buggery would be perfectly legal where there is consent.

“In my opinion, this has been a slight of hand (where) somebody seemed to have slipped in the matter which abolishes the (offence of buggery) as we know it,” he said.

The Opposition Senator was backed by Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate, AJ Nicholson who argued that the bill was littered with unresolved issues because the Government had failed to follow proper procedure and had rushed the process.

“The route that has been taken has caused avoidable delays, a meandering and a troubled journey through the houses … different days be appointed for the start of different provisions. Even after our deliberations here in the Senate, there will requirements for the House of Representatives to consider future amendments recommended in this chamber,” said Senator Nicholson.

The controversial bill, which was also subject to extensive and heated debate in the Lower House, is likely to continue to stir up a firestorm of reactions among several Senators yet to make their contribution.

Charging women for raping men

In the meantime, Government Senator Dennis Meadows wants the Sexual Offences Bill to be amended to allow women to be charged for raping men.

Senator Meadows elicited giggles from some Government and Opposition Members of the Senate as he argued for the section of the bill which recognises marital rape, to be made gender neutral.

Previously, the law did not recognize that a man could rape his wife.

But the Sexual Offences Bill sets out five circumstances in which a husband can be charged for raping his spouse.

The bill now says that marital rape can only be committed where the spouses have separated under law, are seeking a divorce or trying to annul their marriage, where there is an injunction ousting the husband from the marital home or if the husband knows himself to be infected with a sexually transmitted illness.

However making his contribution to debate on the bill in the Senate Friday afternoon, Senator Meadows argued that that section of the bill should not only address husbands raping their wives but wives raping their husbands.

According to him, the change would also address date rape.

“I’m man to say that I can be raped by a woman … I may not cry rape but it is possible. A woman who drugs a man with a date rape drug for example and has sex with him without his consent has committed rape or in this case grievous sexual assault,” said Mr. Meadows.

Married women left out in the cold – Mark Golding (right)

He was not the only Senator who took issue with the section of the bill dealing with marital rape.

Opposition Senator Mark Golding argued that by restricting marital rape to only five specific circumstances, the new bill would unwittingly end up offering less protection to married women than the law now offers to unwed women.

“The unmarried woman who lives with her man in long term relation will actually now enjoy superior rights than a lawfully married wife since if her man has sex with her without her consent he would have committed rape but that is not so in the case of a lawfully wedded wife unless one of the five circumstances is also present,” said Senator Golding.

The Senate will continue to debate the Sexual Offences bill next Friday.

“Worse than prison”: Life under the Witness Protection Programme

following up on the post:Glad to be alive and recovering well, we mentioned about the witness protection programme and the fact that many people are simply scared to become witnesses in court cases. Here is a piece from RJR NEWS regarding same.

Concerns have surfaced recently over the administration of the Ministry of National Security’s Witness Protection Programme.

The concerns relate to the level of protection as well as financial and emotional support being given to the participants.

One person, who has been in the programme for some time, took the risk of calling our news centre to share his story, claiming that he is at the breaking point.

The individual’s voice has been distorted to protect his identity.

Worse than prison.

That is how the witness protection programme has been described by the participant, who we will call Ted.

Ted told our news centre that he is now seriously regretting a decision to give information to the police and signing onto the Witness Protection Programme.

He said though he expected some dislocation due to the nature of the programme, the level of support he was promised on signing has not materialized.

“When they take you and ask you some questions, they build up your hopes about what they can do for you and what they will do for you. But as soon as you sign the paper and say you are ready to go on the Witness Protection Programme, they do nothing at all like that for you,” said Ted.

“I am not working and have four children and they have to get support and they are calling me, everyday they want money to go to school,” he continued.

Ted said many times, he has risked his life by going onto the streets without protection to seek medical attention or in a bid to sate his hunger, when what he described as the paltry stipend provided by the administrators of the programme runs out.

“Many days I leave here and go out on the road and walk up and down. Many times I see guys that I know and I have to leave because they [the police] don’t care about you,”

“They don’t want to go to the doctor, they don’t want to go to the supermarket you have to go out there yourself. Sometimes I feel sick and they don’t answer the phone, they just throw you in the house. They don’t even call you to find out how you’re doing,” “Sometimes the money they give me is finished in two weeks time and I have to leave to go to my family’s house to eat. I have to take the bus or taxi to go there to get something to eat. They don’t give me nothing at all, not even a little radio to listen to. They just don’t care about you,” said Ted.

Under the programme, witnesses are entitled to safe accommodation, including relocation to other parts of Jamaica or other counties if necessary, medical care, financial assistance, education for children and counselling.

However, another participant we will call her Dee, who has been on the programme for several years, questioned the programme’s stated benefits particularly in relation to medical care.

She has a medical condition which sees her spending up to $5,000 per month for medication.

“I’m basically damaged and the doctor said that I will be having limitations for life. I walk with a limp because most of my tendons are damaged and I am given $20,000 a month and out of the $20,000, $5,000 is for medicine and $15,000 for food. All they give me for medicine cannot cover my medical expenses and I cannot get a job because I have no ID,” Dee said.

She also told our news centre that the new identity she was promised when she signed on to the programme has still not materialised.

As a result she says she has been unable to land a job to support herself and has to exist as a non-person, totally dependent on the stipend provided by the programme’s administrators.

Dee also appealed for the administrators to put systems in place so seasoned members of the programme can provide support to other persons.

“I told them that I read up on the programme on the Internet and I did research. I said to them [the police] let some of us give you ideas of how to do it and I even said to them I know my life is not going to be the same again, take some of us from the programme and put back to work. Some of us need counseling,” Dee said.

“I told the government to pay me to do something else, to help some other people I don’t want to take handouts from them. I am not used to hand outs, just give me something that can help benefit the country and the government,” she continued.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Gilbert Scott, refused to discuss details of how the programme is administered or the arrangements but insisted that it is performing up to par.

“The programme has a ratio of one to four between primary witnesses and dependents and all their needs are taken care of. The programme as far as we are concerned operates successfully and any particular concern is brought to our attention we make sure that it is dealt with the appropriate vigour,” said Mr. Scott.

Mr. Scott indicated that an investigation would be launched to resolve the issues raised by the participants who spoke with our news team.

Last June, the Ministry boasted of its track record in protecting state witnesses since it assumed responsibility for the Justice Protection Unit (JPU).

The unit was previously managed by the Jamaica Constabulary Force.

At the time, the Security Ministry claimed no witness had been killed or harmed in the ten years since it took over the programme.

It said since the programme’s implementation, nearly 1,500 persons have benefited from the services of the JPU, including both primary witnesses and their dependents.

The Ministry claimed that 182 of the persons who accessed the Programme were successfully released.

The Witness Protection Programme was implemented to deal with the danger witnesses face from criminals who threaten and intimidate them to discourage them from appearing in court.

Once a witness signs on to the programme, they are required to remain in it until after the case is tried and it is deemed safe for them to leave.

(and then we wonder why people turn to the dons and henchmen to “clear up” disputes and porblems)

Conscience vote on death penalty in September

The proposed Parliamentary resolution calling for a conscience vote on the retention of the death penalty will not make it into Gordon House before September. Prime Minister Bruce Golding who instructed the Attorney General’s Department to pen the motion said he now has a draft of it in hand. However, Mr. Golding said he is proposing the matter be given some time to breathe in parliament before it is debated.”I now have the draft resolution and it is a matter that I hope to have before Cabinet in the (next two weeks) and once we get the approval of Cabinet we’re going to bring that to Parliament.
I’m going to suggest that the resolution sit on the table of the House until after the summer recess,” he said.Prime Minister Golding said although he did not want to prejudice the impending conscience vote, he expects the judiciary to move accordingly once Parliamentarians vote.The Golding administration has insisted that it will resume hanging.The previous People’s National Party administration had argued that its efforts to carry out the death penalty were frustrated by rulings issued by the London based Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.

Background checks for child care workers

Persons seeking jobs at state-run and private children’s homes will now face intense screening before they are hired.
This is one of several measures implemented under the new licensing regime for children’s homes.
In the wake of recent reports that wards of the state being abused,
Chief Executive Officer of the Child Development Agency (CDA) Allison Anderson said a detailed background check will be done on all potential employees.
“With the police clearance certificate, we should be able to find out who has criminal records and also in terms of the qualification of the staff and so on, that will also come on as part of the licensing regime and we’re just going to have to keep on with the monitoring,” she said.
Regular checks were carried out
Ms Anderson is also defending the CDA’s monitoring of children’s homes.
The Agency has been under fire from human rights group Jamaicans for Justice which has accused the agency of being lax in supervising state-run homes.
The criticism followed an alleged case of buggery at a residential child care facility.
A Pastor in St. Mary, who is also a supervisor at a boys’ home, was charged with 30 counts of buggery when he appeared in court last week.
Miss Anderson said while there are shortcomings in the system, the CDA has been carrying out regular checks at facilities.
“In every way, unannounced, announced, in executive management teams including myself going out making visits to the homes and indicating to them what is wrong and what is right.
Our compliance rate was low … up to 85% in terms of our monitoring … we got it up to 99%. We did 175 visits each month out of 176 … we’ve had the Office of the Children’s Advocate doing their visits and making those reports,” said Ms Anderson.
She added that the agency will be lobbying for additional staff to effectively carry out its operations.