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.

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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

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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.

Reverend Al Miller’s own moral conflict of interest & anti gay campaign

Reverend Al Miller’s own conflict of interest & anti gay campaign

Rev Al Miller a UWI campus demonstration

Has no moral authority as he is still tainted by two matters he is embroiled in. The back and forth in as far as moral authority to condemn or judge has been noted on this blog before via:

CHURCH STANDS RESOLUTE AGAINST BUGGERY BACKERS SAYS AL MILLER ………… LOVE MARCH MOVEMENT LACKS MORAL COMPASS SAYS LGBT VOICE

Secularism, Humanism and Atheism have also helped to cloud the local LGBT debate as I warned about in 2012/3; go HERE

Talk about conflict of interest, shaky integrity and selective morals as Reverend Al Miller has no moral authority to speak to any issue of right or wrong and interestingly homosexuality at that in my view at this time as his own actions that were in heard in court regarding the aiding of a fugitive in Christopher “Dudus” Coke after the authorities moved in on his so called empire in West Kingston in 2010 and he went into hiding only to be caught in the company of the said Reverend Miller in his car using a method of expression and entertainment for drag effeminate culture and transgender women in terms of cross dressing.  He has even gone as far as to rebuff comments of his continued role at Fellowship Tabernacle Church which he pastors in the aftermath where he claimed he would have done the deception of bypassing local police again in assisting Coke. See MORE HERE on that

Coke was dressed in a wig, glasses, light makeup and a dress with reported high heels shoes as the photographs that circulated after the entrapment made clear much to the amusement of the public from some time after and the questions began to fly as to the reasons why a pastor would aid this method of obvious perpetrated deception and in such a public fashion. It seems there are too many conflicts of interest on all sides here now engaged in a shouting match or drawn daggers over the Professor Brendan Bain sacking by the University of the West Indies from a project they managed called CHART as part of the HIV prevention strategy for CARICOM/PANCAP Pan Caribbean AIDS Partnership after the professor gave “expert” testimony in a case involving a gay man in Belize challenging the Buggery legislation there some two years ago.

Previously one of the Jamaican LGBT activist based in New York who has led protests in that state of the US has come into some fire as his delinquency in servicing a student loan prior to his departure was made public as his name and photo appeared in a full page ad of delinquent borrowers earlier this month which has made him a target on sections of social media for ridicule and mistrust and discredit as persons commented that he has no authority to speak or demand rights as his own lack of civil and personal responsibility is tainted thus disqualifying him for demand for any correctness. See more HERE

How is it on one hand Reverend Miller opposes most publicly the so called ills of the land as he describes them on his Word Power show on television while having two most public charges dogging him? His short absence from the aforementioned show and subsequent return may make some persons feel he is cleared but those who have been paying attention and are cognisant of ethical principles are not fooled by this public relations faux pas and why has the other so called “Purity” groups such as the LCF (headed previously by Shirley Richards) and the JCHS (headed by Dr Wayne West) have not called him out or disassociated themselves from him until he is in the clear? Coke was wearing a wig at the time of the nabbing as the Reverend was said to be helping Coke to get passed the local security to a foreign power that being the United States Embassy in a bid to escape the supposed shoot first ask question mentality of the local police used an excuse when confronted, the other matter that has baffled me to this day is the missing gun case where it was reported the Reverend left his firearm in his vehicles and went to pick some mangoes and upon his return his gun just went missing after which it was reported to the authorities and he was charged for not properly securing his weapon and has been in and out of court since.

These two major infractions apart from his outlandish calls that homosexuality is abnormal, reparative therapy is a cure and the Buggery Law must remain on the books makes him unfit to speak until he has cleared his name especially of the Coke matter as to why was he helping a fugitive to escape the law of the land yet it is the same principle of obeying or keeping the laws of the land of which he professes to speak and seek attention to himself. He has been at this struggle at the very stage from the parliamentary submission in 1998 by JFLAG (when they meant something) when he appeared with the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowhip’s Shirley Richards, the Charter of Rights Debate during it on again off again twenty plus years run before passage in 2009/10, abortion debates in and out of the houses of parliament and professes to use psychological references in addressing homosexuality with some authority without referencing any expert referral, study or position paper to do so. I find that ethics, integrity and indeed moral responsibility are dying forms of evidence to back credibility in public advocacy and here we have so much more evidence of those missing pieces which leaves me to wonder if we can use the same moral nihilism criticism levelled at the LGBT lobby overall by anti gay activist Dr Wayne West of the Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society, JCHS.

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Reverend Miller must recluse himself from any outrage as it were until his name and reputation are cleared just as how these church folk make demands of conflicted politicians and public persons when they err and rightfully so.

I find hypocrisy and a feeling that persons are not tracking these valuable tenets for public life or advocacy so persons depend on the nine day wonder mentality we tend to have on matters on interest in the news constant recurrences. The same declining values in a sense as complained about by the church seems to have also affected the very loudest voices of the same group, we saw said hypocrisy play out with the call for tolerance by the former Prime Minister P. J. Patterson days go in light of the Bain matter I find that politicians tend to be so clear on values when outside of state power as also evidenced in Bruce Golding labour day opinion piece in the Gleaner fear mongering on gay marriage which he invented as a reason to deny rights in the Charter of Rights debate in 2009/10 to which the present PM sided with him as a matter of convenience and or pandering to religious groups as oppositions seem to always do, only weeks ago the JLP called for a referendum on buggery echoing a call from side protesting religious groups. Where was PJ Patterson when he was PM over the 16 of the 18 year run the PNP had in power when his own sexuality was brought under scrutiny and he demanded they stop as he was not gay.

See: Former Prime Minister PJ Patterson’s call for tolerance not genuine & sheer hypocrisy

In conclusion Reverend Al Miller is conflicted and cannot be seen as a credible voice in opposition to any moral matter until he clears his name likewise any LGBT activists also who are or seem tainted. The Jamaica Council of Churches, JCC stance in part is as follows “The church affirms its pastoral role and so appeals to the church as well as the wider religious community not to speak or act in ways that ostracise or incite violence or any other treatment of indignity towards persons who are homosexual as they too bearers of the image of God and for whom Christ died”

MUST SEE previous post:

REV AL MILLER SAYS GAY LOBBY IS USING THE GUISE OF TOLERANCE TO GET THE NATION TO ACCEPT THE “GAY LIFESTYLE”

and

Peace and tolerance

H

Business downturn for the weed-whacking project for former displaced St Catherine MSM

As promised here is another periodical update on an income generating/diligence building project now in effect for some now seven former homeless and displaced MSM in St Catherine, it originally had twelve persons but some have gotten jobs elsewhere, others have simply walked away and one has relocated to another parish, to date their weed whacking earning business capacity has been struggling as previous posts on the subject has brought to bear and although some LGBT persons residing in the parish have been approached by yours truly and others to increase client count for the men costs such as gas and maintenance of the four machines that are rotated between the enrolled men are rising weekly literally while the demand is instead decreasing due to various reasons.

When the initial idea was rolled out at the time in late 2012 via a mixed religion group to include myself and another gay individual there was some resistance to it as the activity was a carry over from a major well funded church project for unemployed youth one of whom still is in this dispensation, several leaders at the time left the revamped project idea claiming they were not supporting the gay lifestyle, the market for landscaping was already saturated with several other players including lawn cutters from Kingston and nearby parishes and Portmore, breaking into the domain was difficult and several attempts were made via flyers, repeated personal visits by myself and the men in walk-a-bouts various housing schemes and so on. The slow rainfall as well added more delays in shrubbery and vegetation growth hence the slow demand for services/repeat visits and cuttings and as costs for the actual weed whacking machines also come down more middle class households purchase their own machines and do their own manicuring of their lawns and fence-hedging. Expansion to other parishes to include Kingston is in the works and also major sites such as office grounds, schools and playgrounds are being considered but a proper marketing/introductory strategy is needed and is being prepared such as an introductory letter and so forth. Due to a spate of robberies generally as well in certain communities that are lonely with no major pedestrian activity during the work hours on weekdays a couple neighbourhood watches have taken a no tolerance approach to “strange faces” in their communities so they refuse to engage new persons seeking business such as cutting lawns, selling newspapers or such peddling and one community actually instituted a gated arrangement with a guard to control movement in and out of the scheme thus limiting potential business for the men, this community though not so new has several wide lawn area that will require tending to and a formal approach is being strategized. The rotation of the machines amongst the project participants has caused some challenges as well as one or more whackers may be out for repairs thus leaving the designated user out of a machine hence no income or shortened time for those who have machines than normal which has caused some riffs and in-fighting between the participants in the project of which I have had to intervene.

No profiling or homo-negative challenges thus far

Thankfully due to the masculine aesthetics of the participants no major profiling has occurred, a concern I had prior to the rollout of the project/machines. The project coordinators outside of myself are still at odds as to the more effeminate counterparts of the men who are presently enrolled and what to develop for them is still a concern, those persons have sought shelter elsewhere with friends for now; the group that were evicted from a house in Sydenham some time ago are also still struggling and some of those persons when contacted on this project in the early days declined the initiation I presume on a premise of mistrust as others have approached the men/transgender persons before with false promises I am told hence their scepticism. An Aphrodite’s PRIDE Jamaica team member had suggested some sort of activity tailored to the female cisgender imperative such as make-up/beauty training and so on but the issue of stereotypical gender role boxing of the group has come up.

Rates as well have been affected due to some of the aforementioned challenges and competition, in order to stay in business average rates have fallen by some 20% average based on my calculations, for e.g. a typical front lawn (hedging not included as scissors are also needed, machetes alone won’t do) probably twenty five feet by thirty feet taking roughly fifteen to twenty minutes to whack could have fetched up to $1,800 now that has come down to $1,200 or less provided the cutter names his price at let’s say $1,500 then negotiates his way down to stay within the ball park. Gas prices have sky rocketed with rates from Petrojam going up weekly for the past eight weeks, a litre of gas now runs at $130/L and it takes 5 litres for the gallon which in turn serves one cutter one or two days depending on the frequency of jobs, the gas itself is also light as feather and burns off faster than normal despite the governing of the machines for maximum delivery per litre of gas. Unfair competition in my eyes as well is hurting business as weedsters from the government’s JEEP temporary employment program who weed-whack parks, medians and public spaces and who also are allowed to take home the govt owned machines are invading the private market as well thus diminishing business and with their more aggressive tactics some have gone as far as to use the local political and parish council representative as muscle to work their way into the market as they tell their people on the ground who in turn tell others. They while earning from their salaried contracts from JEEP are able to price down their services thus affecting market rates tremendously.

Such is the nature of business right now but the men have managed overall to eek out some small profits or break even in some instances. The psycho-social bit is also being examined and elements of the soon to be concluded Enterprise Training that I am apart of are being reviewed with modifications of course for this cohort; the men are also being encouraged to save as best as possible and consolidate on certain things such as food purchases and so on, two of the men are in fact in a long term relationship so their money management issues are a little better off than the others one of whom has a son from a previous opposite gender relationship. Encouragement has come from the mostly mixed Christian heterosexual group although the teething challenges were numerous they have settled and are now seemingly looking past sexual orientation although there is a push by at least one person for some type of reparative work and prayer for change. The Christmas treat held last year is still fresh in the men’s mind as there were new comers in the lot and the grocery packages though small are welcomed by them saving time and money to fetch such items on their own. My concern is to move them from just mere tokenism to more independent thinking and devising their own way to fend for themselves, the necessitated rotation of the machines has become a blessing in disguise as it has come to teach the men sharing and patience major tools in diligence building and the all important life-plan efficacious activity seems more eminent than before as the anger and resentment from being displaced slowly subsides. We are seeking a qualified professional with counselling expertise to do one on one work with them to move to the next step as the project becomes more formalised.

I had an idea to divert a few of them to a program on catering but it soon dawned on me that with independence it would have been difficult to ask them to make such a separation to non income status although the training would make them qualified and also the hours needed to seek business are also the same hours for classes so it would have been a catch 22 situation.

I am feeling a little better seeing some of the displaced and homeless MSM/Transgender persons are being addressed but it is in no way near the answers needed as others elsewhere on the island struggle with a myriad of issues. A community influential in Mandeville has recently taken on a few in his home for a short time while in St Ann an influential who was assisting some men there has given up due to the behavioural challenges and pilfering has caused him to discontinue any further assistance. I nearly got to that place as well after my own experience in July last year when I took in a youngster only to have to put him out three days after as he brought a sex buddy to my home without expressed permission or prior notification, such as the challenges with community based shelter assistance. That is precisely when several more privileged gay/bi persons do not assist separate and apart from the classism and snobbery that obtains in the our “community”

We are thinking of devising an aggressive fund raising activity incorporating various means, donations of cash and kind have been slowly kicking in from persons in the know of the project and I have sent over donations as well thanks to my donors via my blogs through Paypal online and a cheque recently delivered to me by a long time reader residing here of which we are grateful. Each one reach one as Babbie Mason would say in her song.

Peace and tolerance

H

also see:

Interfaith Group Pledges Continued Support for Homeless MSM in St Catherine

GLBTQ Jamaica in conjunction with several individuals and a church group hosted a treat and some words of encouragement for the brothers.

Homeless MSM populations treated over the Christmas season

Young MSM/Transgender want to be treated as citizens not potential HIV/AIDS victims

More and more I seem to be coming across young gay, transgender and bisexual youth who feel weary it seems from the over supply of pinch leave an inch condoms, pamphlets and paraphernalia on safer sex and AIDS and other related materials as multiple agencies jostle to reach what has basically become the same cohort on the face of it of males for the most part in the quest for HIV prevention but where are the more meaningful outreach and interventions for holistic development and nurture?

Some in the know may say that funding is hardly available for those kinds of developmental work (which maybe true in a sense but still sounds more like an apology for slackness and maintaining the old status quo) and indeed the more cynical would go as far as to say it is not the agencies involved best interest to do or offer such meaningful interventions as that will diminish their cohort of potential service users and thus nothing to report hence no need to prepare programs only to seek future funds, after all agencies exist to supposedly help but how many persons are actually being helped or impressive success stories to prove same while old narratives are still being used to suggest that gay/bi men do not have access to safer sex implements which is a lie.

CVM Newscast of the Cargill Avenue eviction where the truckmen/movers found and commented on the condoms they found
CVM Newscast of the Cargill Avenue eviction where the truckmen/movers found and commented on the condoms they found

also see: Homeless MSM/Trans youth draw attention in New Kingston

Homeless MSM having their version of fun recently by the infamous Gully nearing  the Island Car Rentals office
Homeless MSM having their version of fun recently by the infamous Gully nearing the Island Car Rentals office
From the Millsborough Avenue embarrasing eviction of some of the homeless MSM/Trans persons last year, condom wrapper is clearly visible
From the Millsborough Avenue embarrassing eviction of some of the homeless MSM/Trans persons last year, condom wrapper is clearly visible
More condom wrappers indicating that the men are only seen as HIV Prevention targets, what about other developmental work?
More condom wrappers indicating that the men are only seen as HIV Prevention targets, what about other developmental work?

The complaints and reports still come almost on a monthly basis these days of some homo-negative outcome somewhere on the island and the phone calls of requests for money or some form of assistance are growing in frequency too as economic issues abound. There agencies that run and managed by powerful gay persons who have the clout to solves this long standing matter of displacements seeing we have both hard and anecdotal evidence that tells us in no uncertain terms that those are visible consequences of stigma, homophobia and homo-negativity.

Take for example this flashback: UNIMPRESSED WITH THE CVM TV SHOW ON MSM HOMELESSNESS

The September 6th 2012 appearance of representatives from The National Council of Drug Abuse and AIDSFREEWORLD’s Maurice Tomlinson to address the recent public eviction of homeless MSM from Cargill Avenue was at best damage control to another embarrassment regarding the poor response from the relevant LGBT agencies. JFLAG WAS NOT PRESENT AT THIS CVM TV LIVE @ SEVEN Program The attempt to use old programmatic language by Maurice Tomlinson to suggest MSM have no access to condoms while the CVM newscast itself showed the movers holding the condoms in their hands they found on the site and saying the men were practising safer sex should be instructive to ALL in view.

Young gay men as indicated above are also becoming weary of the way they are viewed despite the aforementioned concerns in a group session over the past week some young men some of whom were teetering on homelessness were invited to a meeting called by a community influential who is concerned about the numbers of them on the streets mostly from Kingston, Portmore and Spanish Town (excluding the five who are helped by a church/LGBTQ group in an ongoing weed whacking project) where they aired some issues they had it was instructive that some of them had a barrage of condoms on their person and laughed at the exposure of them as they accidentally fell from a bag of one of the attendees. He joked “All dem do a full mi up wid boots” (all they do is full me up with condoms) “boots” is the colloquial expression for condoms but something happened after the initial laughter died down as it seems the realization that they were having trouble finding permanent shelter or other crisis issues ongoing were real and that “boots” cannot be a solution whenever they are met by the various outreach teams as part of the HIV prevention strategy. The homeless men for example who have been making the news in New Kingston have been receiving food items once a week but is that enough? They too have had loads of condoms thrown at them as we have seen repeatedly on the television newscasts and other videos covering them. What about the deeper issues and personal concerns they have. The men in the meeting of which I was present were asked to fill out a random list of what they require and their lists read as a call for items and things you and I may have probably not considered important as we enjoy those amenities or interactions on a daily basis and indeed take them for granted. The simple lament by the boots carrying man screams far more than just the obvious since they fell in such a great numbers, one could easily count thirty or so. The conversation continued after the list creation exercise and what came out was a stunner to me despite my knowledge of how some persons feel about the whole scenario as older displaced men in time have echoed a similar sentiment with some level of frustration.

The ideal scenario would be a meeting place for group session and support meetings

Steady supply of food cooked or uncooked

Shelter and some sort of transitional living program towards independence

Educational or skills building opportunities

Guidance on developing and executing life plans through self efficacious activity not just limited to HIV prevention

Exploring the arts and possible skills linked to cross dressing aesthetics and affinity to cosmetics (drag culture, forced feminization and female cisgenderistic presentations for male to female transgender persons in the group)

But by the sound of the lament and the subsequent tete a tete the men are not satisfied; theirs is a perception that more privileged homosexuals control tons of money in funding and that the money is being spent on non essential things such as court cases, fat cat salaries and perks while persons who are on the lower socio totem pole are just relegated to being “victims” or service users and nothing more, doomed to get HIV (if they do not have it already) or waiting to die. Such were the tones in the ensuing discourse. Recent history has unfortunately given some credence to these perceptions as feelings of abandonment of the aforementioned homeless men in New Kingston still linger from the repeated news headlines, shenanigans and police interventions of that population and believe me word travels whenever there is any such occurrences. The men in the long and short of it want to be seen as human beings that deserve respect as one older person claims that there is favouritism as well in how interventions are carried out by some agencies and their representatives. Why are some powerful advocates and personalities in HIV/MSM prevention in particular refusing to go this route of real life changing intervention rollouts is still not clear to some, the departure of a Board Chair of Jamaica AIDS Support for Life also has not gone down so comfortably with myself and others as her stance on homelessness was supportive for the most part despite the run-ins with the men and the stoning incidents on their former offices at Upper Musgrave Avenue yet by the soundings out there one particular former chair but who still sits on the bench has been haggling against any such proactive moves to address homelessness which does not surprise me as he was the chair when the Safe House Pilot was closed with no psycho-social interventions allowed to stop the “bad behaviour” that was used a justification to take such final actions on a needed project.

My part in the whole affair however was to offer some encouragement to the lads in the scheme of things especially owing to the fact that one of the men’s friends was hospitalised recently for a brief illness but how can words heal when the real life toughness abounds and affect their present reality? Then we turn around and wonder why the anti social behaviours are happening when it is obviously clear to those looking that such are only means to an end to forget if only for a fleeting moment the worries of the hour. It is also interesting that as a group the men are indeed “rowdy” (word used by voices in the gay lobby to describe them also “maladjusted miscreants” showing the elitist side to this) but as individuals is it amazing what comes flying out of them in a one on one session discussing real life matters yet they are for all intents and purposes made to become martyrs in a sense for a cause that they might not have subscribed to in ordinary circumstances when asked to do so. Leaving them out in the cold for so long seems unethical on the face of it then allowing the numbers to reach levels where they can be used and paraded as “concerned” advocates make themselves look good in coming to their rescue. We are not fooled by the deception but let us see how long the using will take place and if really any proper productive end will come of the recently announced shelter idea, yet another one.

Some indigenous groups such as the aforementioned St Catherine weed whacking project group, Colour Pink (aligned to the aforementioned JASL) and Aphrodite’s PRIDE Jamaica of which I am performing Outreach and Facilitation duties for their Enterprise Training Project for more stable formerly displaced MSM/Trans and Lesbian individuals are addressing in their own way psycho-social issues and other concerns such as jobs and education development but we know where some of the blame of all this lies at the feet of these same agencies who only do enough to look as if they are addressing some issues but not with a view to adequately address what they take on only for the interventions to last out for experts have jobs it seems. Others seem more interested in media whoring possibly to satisfy a narcissistic complex at the expense of the least amongst us and then we wonder why we are here with an exploding displaced and homeless grouping and advocacy in limbo in the face of steady HIV/AIDS infection rates in the MSM cohort.

The APJ training for example we stay far away as a possible from an over preponderance of HIV messaging and instead go for positive reinforcement in terms of identity, coming out and so on.

Some things to think about but who is brave enough to say it openly when their snouts are in the troughs?

Integrity in advocacy anyone?

Peace and tolerance

H

Buy no rings, you won’t wed; religious fear-mongering on gay marriage & the buggery law continues

As the rulings in India and Australia makes the rounds worldwide as to their respective losses of gay marriage rights we got some celebratory soundings from the religious right corner on social media as a victory of sorts on supposed wholesome living; as if same gender loving couples outside of exploitive same sex reasons as we know those exist cannot have and enjoy monogamous unions and associated state recognition and rights as privileged heterosexual couples. At not time in Jamaica am I aware of any call by local lobbyists for same sex marriage rights and benefits but the fear-mongering coming from the theocracy one is led to believe that there is some Gestapo at work to suppress free speech although sometimes there is overstep by sections of the lobby and indeed mistakes are made.

JCHS logo

Battle Lines Javed Jaghai versus the state & the Jamaica Buggery Law

Human Rights Day 2013 the anti gay group Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society, JCHS held an outdoor conference at the Emancipation Park in New Kingston where they for the most part planted fear in the minds of the public claiming the gay lobby and its agenda is to in essence silence the church with future laws to silence clergy and force marriage officers to marry gay persons even if they do not agree. Shirley Richards past president of the Lawyers’Christian Fellowship and co-founder of the JCHS said in a radio interview as the session was in progress that the event was to put human rights within their proper context and to develop a proper perspective of same, she said her group is concerned how human rights is being interpreted and applied and there are some things missing. She continued that the autonomy of the individual cannot be the sum total of human rights she likened the thrust to a right to destroy unborn babies, to destroy oneself sexually and values on a whole so she thinks the church needs to intervene and supposedly stop the madness. Dr Wayne West lead voice for the JCHS also spoke in that same interview and echoed Mrs Richards perspective adding a prophetic role and understanding the philosophical perspective by some and imposing same on society so the JCHS’s role is to interpret same for the Christian community (excluding LGBT ones I imagine). See: Miss Richard’s earlier paranoia here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SiIjmj9kJds

Guest speaker one Brian Camenker of a US based anti gay pro straight family group Mass Resistance led the fear-mongering of gay marriage imposition and forced legislation to same while also forcing children to cross dress blatantly showing his ignorance to transgenderism. He repeated plugged his book “What same-sex “marriage” has done to Massachusetts” he claimed that the international lobby is about to impose homosexuality on the nation as done in the United States by massaging our Prime Minister and laws that contradict God’s law is the beginning of a slippery slope; he lamented that the gay pride parade was a way to psychologically impose the lifestyle to include open cross dressing, masochists and so called “other profane acts” (in a gay pride!? really!) then he went on to say that the church will be mocked and the subsequent non discrimination laws and that businesses were forced to accept gay business; he sited a case of a catholic couple who refused business of gays in their hotel and were sued. He then complained of gays must not be allowed to adopt children and that schools were having all day events celebrating gay activities. All this without any proper sitting of the information just pure fear-mongering and to think this was coming from a white foreigner the audience just sat there and accepted this simplistic presentation. He also claimed gay marriage was forced on his home state of Boston.

He claimed that gay marriage has had many disturbing side effects “I’ll mention just one, we were working with a Christian woman a single mother  her son is in the fifth grade, the teacher is a lesbian who constantly tells the class about her wife this has traumatised the boy terribly because it’s against the families beliefs; I went with the mother to meet the school principal to talk about it, the principal told us that because gay marriage is legal that the mother doesn’t have a choice  in that matter.” He then went on to conflate transgenderism with homosexuality by saying that the next item on the agenda is the call for state funding to solve problems caused by homosexuality; he claimed the state and federal governments are being asked in his sate to spend enormous amounts on HIV/AIDS caused by homosexual behaviours, he claimed gay on gay violence is an epidemic as it is gays who are killing gays. He claimed the non discrimination laws on transgenderism is a ploy to allow children to wear opposite sex attire and use mixed bathrooms as well and teachers who do not comply are punished; all this Mr Carmenker pronounced loudly on the stage without any backing information or links to access same while the audience agreed with him in rousing chants at each sentence. Then came the conflation with abuse and same gender sex a mixup that even the JCHS has repeatedly done as covered on this blog as well; he claimed that persons are for the most part introduced to homosexual sex through abuse as if no one is born homosexual. He warned that locals must not allow buggery to be decriminalized as free speech will disappear and gay marriage rights is next to force clergy to marry gay persons. He kept referring to the lobbyists as gay profane mobs. He claimed that a meeting such as the one he was speaking is not possible in Boston which sounds on the surface as a lie. During the one hour event there was no outcry for violence towards persons who are gay or different and obvious non Christian passers-by used their way of showing approval with gun gesticulations, boom bye bye and no batty boi sound offs.

apologies for the glitches but the source feed was tacky …. video for non profit purpose and review only

Just days before CVM TV showed a television special entitled Battle Lines: Javed Jaghai versus the State which also featured the JCHS and others who literally fear the simply decriminalization of buggery to allow consent in private while criminalizing abusers and non consensual perpetrators of whatever gender. I will admit that the leading lobbyists locally have been sloppy in certain respects in the push as they only recently changed their position on buggery from a full repeal to decriminalization which took too long to occur given the opposition over the life of the struggle from their 15 years in operation.

So it’s not us at the altar any time soon if they religious right have their way, we must never have a stable family life albeit I am not into relationships but do support those who choose same. Creating fear and panic in those as if homosexuals are here to force everyone else to be so, poisoned aren’t we?

Please these previous posts as well from this and sister blogs:

Betty Ann Blaine & foreign religious zealots continue their paranoia & misrepresentations 

Gay Parenting (a view on the ground) (repost from 09) …….. International Family Day

The unofficial practice by churches in using marriage to cure homosexuality

Sexual Reproduction for Same Sex Couples?

Will same-sex marriages ever be accepted in Jamaica? (2009)

Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society, JCHS continued confusion of paedophilia & consenting homosexuality.

‘Don’t Bow To Gay Pressure’ – Crusaders Urge Jamaicans To Stand By Buggery Law

Dr Wayne West’s continued intellectual dishonesty on fisting felching & chariot racing by homosexuals in Jamaica

also of interest is this discussion on separation of church and state on local TV in November 2013

Peace and tolerance

H

Transgender Day of Rememberance 2013: Gully Queen, Barbie Love & Britney Boudashious gone too soon

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the venue of the gig where the attack took place
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empty room of Dwayne/Gully Queen at the captured house where she once lived with her friends

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Dwayne Jones (Gully Queen) in good times

As news spread of Gully Queen’s death it became apparent to me that another young transwoman had not been allowed the chance to fulfil her female cisgender imperative and was too inexperienced to realise that it was important to choose wisely who one shares certain information with.

Dwayne Jones was relentlessly teased in high school for being effeminate until he dropped out. His father not only kicked him out of the house at the age of 14 but also helped jeering neighbours push the youngster from the rough Jamaican slum where he grew up.

By age 16, the teenager was dead — beaten, stabbed, shot and run over by a car when he showed up at a street party dressed as a woman. His mistake: confiding to a friend that he was attending a “straight” party as a girl for the first time in his life.

“When I saw Dwayne’s body, I started shaking and crying,” said Khloe, one of three friends who shared a derelict house with the teenager in the hills above the north coast city of Montego Bay. Like many transgender and gay people in Jamaica, Khloe wouldn’t give a full name out of fear. Pity as well as homelessness which has been ignored for years in the LGBT advocacy structure featured most prominently in this case and to think after the furore and public cynicism the house where the guys remained was firebombed with very little proactive measures taken by JFLAG and the others handling the case file so more victims ended up being made instead of redress and closure. Thankfully no one was badly hurt after that ordeal but the aforementioned agencies failure over the years to properly provide programs and interventions for LGBT youth is telling and many incidents could have been avoided.

Even though some 300 people were at the dance party in the small riverside community of Irwin, police have yet to make a single arrest in Dwayne’s murder. Police say witnesses have said they couldn’t see the attackers’ faces.

Dwayne was the centre of attraction shortly after arriving in a taxi at 2 am with his two 23-year-old housemates, Khloe and Keke. Dwayne’s expert dance moves, long legs and high cheekbones quickly made him the one that the guys were trying to get next to.

Like many Jamaican homosexuals, Dwayne was careful about confiding in others about his sexual orientation. But when he saw a girl he had known from church, he told her he was attending the party in drag.

Minutes later, according to Khloe and Keke, the girl’s male friends gathered around Dwayne in the dimly-lit street asking: “Are you a woman or a man?” One man waved a lighter’s flame near Dwayne’s sneakers, asking whether a girl could have such big feet.

Then, his friends said, another man grabbed a lantern from an outdoor bar and walked over to Dwayne, shining the bright light over him from head to toe. “It’s a man,” he concluded, while the others hissed “batty boy” and other anti-gay epithets.

Khloe says she tried to steer him away from the crowd, whispering in Dwayne’s ear: “Walk with me, walk with me.” But Dwayne pulled away, loudly insisting to partygoers that he was a girl. When someone behind him snapped his bra strap, the teen panicked and raced down the street.

But he couldn’t run fast enough to escape the mob.

The teenager was viciously assaulted and apparently half-conscious for some two hours before another sustained attack finished him off, according to Khloe, who was also beaten and nearly raped. She hid in a nearby church and then the surrounding woods, unable to call for help because she didn’t have her mobile phone.

Dwayne’s father in the Montego Bay slum of North Gully didn’t want to talk about his son’s life or death. The teen’s family wouldn’t even claim the body, according to Dwayne’s friends.

They remembered him as a spirited boy with a contagious laugh who dreamt of becoming a performer like Lady Gaga. He was also a street-smart hustler who resorted to sleeping in the bushes or on beaches when he became homeless. He won a local dancing competition during his time on the streets and was affectionately nicknamed “Gully Queen.”

“He was the youngest of us but he was a diva,” Khloe said. “He was always very feisty and joking around.”

Inside their squatter house, Khloe and Keke said, they still talk to their dead friend.

“I’ll be cooking in the kitchen and I’ll say, ‘Dwayne, you hungry?’ or something like that,” said Keke while sitting on the old mattress in her bedroom, flinching as neighbourhood dogs barked outside. “We just miss him all the time. Sometimes I think I see him.”

But down the hall, Dwayne’s room is empty except for pink window curtains decorated with roses, his favourite flower

Dwayne Jones (Gully Queen) Last Appearance prior to his murder notice the reporter said he was gay hence the other issue with crisis reporting of LGBT matters and this has always affected the credibility of the lobby’s voice

also this month we lost Britney Boudashious the reigning Miss LGBT World who was murdered in November, she was to hand over the crown at this year’s gala event but she did not make it, no clear motive has been established for her demise.

Britney’s Crowning in 2012
her glorious moment after such hard work and practice to get there

rest in peace daaaaahlin’

see more here on Gay Jamaica Watch

Barbie making front page news on the now defunct XNEWS

also see: Disturbed by Xnews Story on Drag Queen and Gay Cop or HERE

also flashback to: International Day of Transgender Remembrance 2011

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Good times at Diva Kerry’s Bday bash in 2011
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fierceness

then the other shocker in August as the popular socialite Barbie Love passed after a brief illness, you may remember her public appearances that were not so positive but she brought visibility to the cross dressing and transwoman communities in 2009 as photo shows below when the XNews published a sensationalistic article and the on Television where she was arrested after a cruising hookup went bad then public, subsequently she sealed her fame by granting an exclusive interview on Ragashanti live

see: Ragga Shanti Interviews Jamaican Drag Queen Part 1 & 2 !

To all three ladies REST IN PEACE and we will miss you.

Peace and tolerance

H

Former Miss LGBT World on being Transgender in Jamaica

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The following is a post done earlier this year with Miss LGBT World 2009 and dancehall queen winner Tiana Miller who granted an interview. Also see other posts for the week:

Transgender Awareness Week 2013

Transgender Awareness Week 2013: Internalized Transphobia

Tiana Miller. (Photos courtesy of Tiana Miller)

Last week, in Montego Bay, Jamaica, 16-year-old Dwayne Jones was shot and stabbed multiple times for turning up to a party in women’s clothing. Jones was reportedly transgender and the murder has once again highlighted the awful reality of life for Jamaica’s LGBT community. And it really is fucking awful.

In 2006, TIME magazine called Jamaica “the most homophobic place on Earth,” and the anti-gay sentiment prevalent in the country’s media and most popular musical genre, dancehall, has been well-documented. The Jamaica Gleaner, one of the country’s largest newspapers, regularly publishes stories about the gay community with a homophobic slant. Last month, it referred to a group of men who were evicted from an abandoned house as a “gay clan” and ran an op-ed (in the year 2013) that rubbished the idea of being born gay, saying people who are attracted to the same sex actively decide to do so, in much the same way that they decide to “eat snails (like the French)” or “like the taste of jackfruit.”

In the wake of Jones’ death, I got in touch with Tiana Miller, a transgender Jamaican, who hopes that her openness about her gender and sexuality will inspire others to display similar levels of bravery.

VICE: Hi Tiana. So, back to the start—at what age did you first realize that you were transgender?
Tiana Miller: It was at around age five when I first started thinking like a female. Then I gradually came to the realization that I felt more comfortable in a female skin. It was difficult. Because of the social norms of my country, I really felt as if I was doing something wrong.

Were your family and friends supportive?
Yes, they were, especially my dad.

That’s good. What about Jamaican society as a whole? Do you agree with the description of the country as, “the most homophobic place on Earth”?
Yes, I do. The challenges that we face are difficulties in surviving, as they relate to jobs, education, and housing. High school was OK for me because I hadn’t transformed yet, but it’s hard now education-wise because I would love to get a college degree, but can’t because they won’t allow me in college.

That’s awful. I’d imagine gay people in Jamaica are quite economically disadvantaged if they are unable to get a decent education or find work.
Yes, they are forced to be poor. The lucky ones are those who find rich partners and dedicate their lives to them.

There have been a few high-profile cases of police brutality towards gay people in Jamaica. Do you feel that the police give transgender people the protection they deserve?
No, they definitely don’t. Homeless transgenders are on the street, and the police—who should be their protectors—have literally run them down and chased them because of their lifestyle.

Is homelessness a common problem for transgender people?
Yes, and they are homeless because they have difficulties in sourcing income to rent houses or locate safe houses to live in.

Have you been physically attacked due to your gender?
Yes, I have been attacked before. I ran, so I didn’t suffer much harm. But naturally this had a traumatising effect on me.

So I take it there are a lot of areas that are out of bounds for gay and transgender people.
Naturally there are. This applies to anywhere where there are slums.

Some of the homophobic attacks over there have been horrific. I remember hearing about a gay rights activist who was killed before people celebrated over his body. Doesn’t stuff like that make you fear for your safety?
Yes, it does. I put myself out there, but I’m still aware of how vicious these homophobic homosapiens are.

Are there many people who dare to be open about their sexuality?
The gay and transgender communities aren’t united, as people fear for their lives, so not many people actually identify themselves with the communities.

So do you consider yourself brave for being so open about your gender and sexuality?
Yes, I am brave. If I wish to see a change, I myself have to inspire it. I had to put myself out there and make myself seen so that people know that transgenders do exist and see that we are normal people trying to live our everyday lives like human beings. We need people like myself who are willing to challenge this country and its government.

The media often hold dancehall culture responsible for the homophobia in Jamaica—what’s your view on that?
I think the main contribution comes from the church and their social ethics concerning what is right and wrong. It puzzles me how cruel human beings can be and how biased they are because the church claims that we are demons and bashes us instead of trying to counsel us.

Yeah, it seems a little illogical.
I know, right? But, like, seriously—I care zero.

So I take it there isn’t much of an LGBT nightlife scene where you are? 
Well, there was, but there’s nothing now—just regular venues that they rent to us.

Do you think Jamaica will ever get round to changing its anti-sodomy laws and modernizing its stance on homosexuality?
Well, it actually seems to be on the verge of doing this.

Because gay culture is growing or because of pressure from other countries?
Both. But time will tell, and I don’t wish to make predictions.

Where do you see yourself in that battle?
I see myself as being the first transgender to be an ambassador for the country. I want to advocate for human rights, be a feminist choreographer and also be a whole lot of other things.

Great. Thanks, Tiana.

Caribbean Court of Justice reserves judgement on Maurice Tomlinson case on barred entry due to sexual orientation

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Justices on the leave hearing panel were back row, left Jacob Wit (Netherlands Antilles) and Winston Anderson (Jamaica) and front row: Rolston Nelson (Trinidad & Tobago), CJ Sir Dennis Byron (St. Kitts & Nevis) and Winston Saunders (St. Vincent & the Grenadines)

HEAR THE AUDIO OF THE SESSION HERE and HERE

Welcome to the Caribbean Court of Justice

MAURICE TOMLINSON & TOM DECKER

The Caribbean Court of Justice heard on November 12th an application against the governments of Belize and Trinidad in which Maurice Tomlinson is challenging the immigration laws of both countries. The hearing was scheduled for two days, but it concluded today, shortly after noon. Tomlinson is Jamaica’s prominent supporter of the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders. His challenge is premised on the notion that the existing legislations infringe on his right to free movement, dignity and equality within the region, as preserved in the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas, signed in 2001.  The application for special leave to commence proceedings in the matter was held via teleconference inside the chamber of Justice Michelle Arana.  Tomlinson, the former husband of Acting Solicitor General of Belize, Michele Daly, who has left Belize, has visited the country on two occasions without any problems and has visited Trinidad and Tobago four times with no one aware of his homosexuality. He recently refused invitations by organizations to speak at their conferences and events because he discovered that the laws in both states appear to directly prohibit homosexuals from landing in each country. In Belize’s case he was to visit at the request of the United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM) last January for a training session.

The fact that he wasn’t prohibited from entering Belize forms the basis of government’s argument that Tomlinson should not be granted leave by the appellate court to seek legal action.  Section Five of Belize’s Immigration Act forbids, among other listed groups, “any prostitute or homosexual or any person who may be living on or receiving or may have been living on or receiving the proceeds of prostitution or homosexual behavior.” Tomlinson, since ending his relationship with Daly, has remarried Tom Decker, a Canadian pastor in New York.  Following today’s proceedings, Acting Solicitor General Nigel Hawke contended that the law in practice is not so narrowly interpreted and in any case Tomlinson has not come here to challenge the law. If he did, Hawke said, he would find that he was welcome here both in the ordinary sense and as a skilled national.

Section 5 of Belize’s Immigration Act – Chapter 156 of the Laws of Belize – lists among the categories of prohibited immigrants “any prostitute or homosexual or any person who may be living on or receiving or may have been living on or receiving the proceeds of prostitution or homosexual behavior…”

Tomlinson’s case was featured in a press release last December from AIDS Free World, an organization of which he is a leading member. That organization called Section 5 of Belize’s Immigration Act “offensive and overbroad.”

It furthermore said that, “Only two countries in the Western Hemisphere, Belize and the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, arbitrarily ban the entry of homosexuals as a ‘prohibited class’.”

Belize contends, though, that the law is not a blanket prohibition against homosexuals – but there is a clear commercial dimension to it, where the prohibition is directed at the earning of proceeds from such activities – as would be the case for prostitution and commercial sexual exploitation.

Tomlinson said that the United Belize Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM) had invited him to Belize to conduct training and sensitization sessions in January 2013, and after having learned of the provisions of the Immigration Act, he declined the invitation because he is unwilling to break the law to conduct these sessions.

Nigel Hawke, Acting Solicitor General, Belize

NIGEL HAWKE

“Basically the court heard arguments from the applicant, heard arguments from Belize and Trinidad, remember this is an application for special leave.  We made our arguments basically saying that we have a certain interpretation of the Immigration Act, our Immigration Act.  Trinidad made their application and the court has reserved its ruling on the issue of application for special leave.  Our position is that the law is interpreted a certain way, our provision is interpreted a certain way.  It is in relation to persons who profit or earn from either prostitution or homosexuality.  That is our position.”

Reporter

“I notice that you said that that won’t change and our position has been when Mr. Tomlinson was here in Belize that he got free entry and exit into the country.”

Nigel Hawke

“That’s from the standpoint that he is saying that we are saying first that there was no actual prejudice and that is clear.  Nobody is disputing that.  The question here is whether there is a potential prejudice because he says the law there is an impediment to his free movement, in particular to Belize.  We are saying no.  We are saying, based on our interpretation, it is not.  So even if that particular provision remains there our submission, our formal submission is that it remains a provision that only applies to a particular situation.  That is basically it.”

Reporter

“Could you address the comment made in court that the laws that were made were promulgated in a time when society was more homophobic and also that in this day and age with the Caribbean Community Single Market and Economy that there are laws in countries such as Belize that need to be aligned with community laws?”

Nigel Hawke

“Bear in mind that that comment was made by Mr. Senior Counsel Jairam.  I think that is his understanding or opinion in respect of that law.  Yes, you concede see the fact that there are some laws in our book that are outdated but we maintain even with respect to this particular aspect of our law, it has been repeated in our Free Movement National Act and I think parliament must have meant something why they put it there.  This was a law to deal with the persons who come into Belize for employment purposes and we submit that that also gives some kind of clarity as to what meaning the legislation attaches to that particular provision in our Immigration Act.”

Reporter

“Sir, the attorney for the other side said that this particular case has no reference to that skilled labor so it shouldn’t be considered.”

Nigel Hawke

“That’s his submission; he has a right to make his submission.  That is his submission and we respect that but we’ve made our submission.”

The judges of the Caribbean Court of Justice have reserved judgment in the matter. See more HERE  and HERE

Trinidad & Tobago through its lawyer, Law Association President Seenath Jairam, SC, appearing with Wayne Sturge and three other attorneys, argued that what is relevant in determining whether a treaty had been violated was the impeached state’s practice. He argued that Trinidad and Tobago had a policy of non enforcement of the law, which he interpreted to refer to homosexuals and not homosexual prostitutes as Belize argued. The allegedly offending provisions in both laws (primarily sections 5(1)(e) of the Belize Immigration Act and 8(1) (e)of the Trinidad and Tobago Act) are almost identical. Jairam supported his arguments with such cases as the recent Shanique Myrie decision, which was repeatedly referenced in the proceedings.

Jairam argued that because Trinidad and Tobago’s state practice was such that it didn’t prevent homosexuals from entering and that because Tomlinson was not prevented from entering before, the application was “an academic exercise”. Tomlinson will not ever be denied entry simply by virtue of being a homosexual, he declared. He drew a comparison to hanging, saying that Trinidad and Tobago had laws on its books which allowed hanging but that they nonetheless did not hang. When asked by the court whether that meant that hanging was illegal, he responded that that was a matter for the constitutional court. He alluded to the fact that governments had financial constraints and that there were costs involved in repealing laws. (Incidentally that has not prevented Trinidad and Tobago from repealing other laws it wished to repeal.)

Jairam argued further that Tomlinson could have applied for a special permit from the Minister responsible for immigration as Sir Elton John did back in 2007. Gifford had earlier stated there is no waiver available to homosexuals of the prohibition in the law, and pointed the court to the section of the Trinidad and Tobago Immigration Act which permits the Minister responsible for Immigration to grant such a  permit. While Gifford argued the permit is limited to two classes of prohibited immigrants specifically mentioned in a subsection of the law, who not include homosexuals, Jairam stated the law confers broader powers and the subsection merely qualifies entry conditions for those two classes.

Justice Nelson expressed concern over whether a policy was sufficient protection of the rights guaranteed to nationals of CARICOM countries, asking rhetorically, “what happens when government changes?” He also asked Jairam non rhetorically whether the court should strike out the allegedly offending sections since they weren’t enforced. Jairam responded, to the bemusement of many in the court, that the court should not strike out the sections because that might allow terrorists to enter the country. In back and forth questioning with the justices, he conceded that both the Belize and Trinidad and Tobago laws were likely enacted “when people were  homophobic”, and that has changed.

The Justices asked all parties whether there was case law on the homosexual provisions of the immigration laws, but none had any to offer. Both states argued that their statutes on freedom of movement for skilled nationals allow their entry notwithstanding other laws, such as the homosexual prohibition, and Tomlinson as a lawyer could have availed himself of such a provision for entry. But the Court was clear that the case was not about entry of a skilled national and that such entry was in the specific context of employment and skill certification. This prompted a series of questions as to whether a prostitute could enter to deliver a lecture instead of to acquire earnings through his/her trade.

Both Belize and Trinidad and Tobago argue that Tomlinson’s rights have not been breached as he has not been denied entry and that is the Treaty has therefore not been engaged. Gifford  responded to the State’s arguments by reiterating that a policy was just a policy and was subject to change with any given government. He also reiterated that the mere existence of the laws, whether they were enforced or not, was sufficient to restrict a person’s rights. It’s like putting up a sign that says “No homosexuals”, regardless to what your actual practice is.

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