World Council of Churches Supports Gay and Intersex People

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by Richard S. Ehrlich | Bangkok, Thailand

A ten-day meeting of the World Council of Churches (WCC) ended in South Korea after expressing support for the world’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community, reunification of the war-torn Korean peninsula, African rape victims and others.

“Some 5,000 Christians, representing more than 300 churches from more than 100 countries” gathered in Busan from October 30 to November 8 at the WCC Assembly which meets every seven years, the organization said on its Facebook page.

In the WCC’s closing prayer, South Africa’s Father Michael Lapsley mentioned his “Facebook friends” and said “God is not limited in the way wisdom is delivered to the human family. For example, I regularly read my NRSV Bible downloaded free on my Samsung phone.”

Lapsley also expressed support for HIV-AIDS sufferers, African rape victims, and honored “the Armenian genocide” of 1915.

“Today I want to say as a Christian, as a priest, to all the LGBTI community, I am deeply sorry for our part as religious people, in the pain you have experienced across the ages,” Lapsley said, referring to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.

“I have a dream that in my lifetime, I will hear all the leaders of all our great faith traditions making the same apology,” Lapsley said.

“Whilst we have been here in Busan, it was decided in Germany that children could for the first time be registered as male, female, or the space could be left blank — an historic step towards relieving and acknowledging the pain for those who are born intersexed or find themselves to be transgendered.

“We know, as St. Paul taught us, that in Christ there is neither male nor female,” Lapsley said.

The WCC also broadcast messages on an Internet-linked video “news program” including interviews with the Archbishop of Canterbury and others, plus a report on the gigantic “Smoky Mountain” garbage dump where impoverished people pick among trash to find items to recycle on the outskirts of Manila, capital of the predominantly Catholic Philippines.

“The Assembly took action by adopting statements and minutes on issues including peace and reunification of the Korean peninsula,” the WCC said.

“The WCC brings together churches, denominations and church fellowships in more than 110 countries and territories throughout the world, representing over 500 million Christians and including most of the world’s Orthodox churches, scores of Anglican, Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist and Reformed churches, as well as many United and Independent churches,” the WCC said.

“At the end of 2012, there were 345 member churches. While the bulk of the WCC’s founding churches were European and North American, today most member churches are in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, the Middle East and the Pacific,” it said.

 

*************Richard S. Ehrlich is a Bangkok-based journalist from San Francisco, California, reporting news from Asia since 1978, and recipient of Columbia University’s Foreign Correspondent’s Award. He is a co-author of three non-fiction books about Thailand, including “Hello My Big Big Honey!” Love Letters to Bangkok Bar Girls and Their Revealing Interviews60 Stories of Royal Lineage; and Chronicle of Thailand: Headline News Since 1946. Mr. Ehrlich also contributed to the final chapter, Ceremonies and Regalia, in a new book titled King Bhumibol Adulyadej, A Life’s Work: Thailand’s Monarchy in Perspective.

His websites are:
http://asia-correspondent.tumblr.com
http://www.flickr.com/photos/animists/sets
https://gumroad.com/l/RHwa

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.

Putting LGBT on Caribbean Sexual Violence Agenda

The exclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT) persons in the discussion and planning to address sexual violence, was brought into focus by United and Strong as the organization added its voice to a regional workshop staged in Saint Lucia by the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA).

The Caribbean Regional Gender Workshop on Sexual Violence in the Caribbean, Status and Needs Including in Humanitarian Situations, saw thirty-four government and NGO representatives from twelve countries attending. The three-day workshop reviewed a strategy, initiated by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to reduce gender-based sexual violence and provide a framework for action and guidance in regional and in-country gender-related activities.

The three-day workshop heard country and NGO reports that detailed actions by national institutions and civil society organizations to address and prevent gender-based violence. Among the presentations however only Belize, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago included LGBT persons in national plans to combat sexual violence.

“I believe it is important to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered persons in programs dealing with gender-based and sexual violence” states Edma Pierre, who represented U&S along with Media Consultant Maria Fontenelle. She adds, “The fact that they are also victims is often ignored and they are treated with a lack of sensitivity within the system.”

United and Strong representatives took the opportunity to highlight the risks inherent in not considering LGBT when designing responses to sexual violence, particularly in disaster and humanitarian situations. They stressed that LGBT should be given consideration across the board from the design of training; selection of staff; services provided for at risk persons; how these services are advertised; the structure of facilities, including toilets; the policies that govern safe spaces for victims of abuse and the legal challenges that can affect all of these.

The legal barrier of the Buggery law was stated as one of the chief reasons that reports from Saint Lucia did not mention LGBT in plans to reduce gender-based sexual violence and in-country gender-related activities. The meeting included representatives from PROSAF, the Massade Boys Training Centre, Voluntary Women, Saint Lucia Planned Parenthood Association, Women’s Shelter, Saint Lucia Crisis Centre, Saint Lucia CARIMAN, Gender Relations, CAFRA Saint Lucia, Family Court and Human Services.

Representatives of PROSAF, the Women’s Shelter, Gender Relations, Family Court and Human Services took the opportunity to stress that their doors were open to every victim of sexual violence. However it was recognised that reluctance to openly identify as LGBT due to fears of stigma, and the reluctance on the part of men generally, and gay men in particular, to admit to being sexually violated was a deterrent in acquiring data that would support the need for inclusion of LGBT in national planning.

Funding was also touted as a constraint. “What is being done sometimes is limited by our resources both at the international level and at the national level”, notes UNFPA gender specialist Jewell Quallo Rosberg. She states however that there is determination to tackle the wide-ranging issue of gender-based violence, “by uniting and using all our resources, not just financial but community resources, and focussing on prevention rather than trying to address the problem after it happens.”

By the conclusion of the conference, at least one country rep, Elaine Henry-McQueen of Grenada, undertook to push for the consideration of the needs of LGBT in national policy planning. Saint Lucia based government and civil society representatives also committed to continue to work in partnership going forward. There was general-consensus among regional partners to advocate for greater collaboration between the community and government to address sexual and gender-based violence as highlighted during the workshop.

– END –

U&S’ Edma Pierre (seated – first left) and Maria Fontenelle (standing – far right), with participants at Caribbean Regional Gender Workshop on Sexual Violence in the Caribbean

October 26/13 is the 17th Intersex Awareness Day

by Howie Fiedhior and Gina (of OII Australia) edited for 2013
also see:

Intersex people are people who have physical differences of sex anatomy other than brain sex alone. Their anatomical differences might include genetic, hormonal or genital differences or differences in our reproductive parts.

Happy Intersex Awareness Day to the small number of persons here in Jamaica, however here is a post I hope both intersex and non intersex persons will find informative as we do not forget to include the “I” in LGBTI agitation wordwide.

The first Intersex Awareness Day (IAD) came about when the American intersex group named Hermaphrodites with Attitude (HWA) teamed up with American Trans group Trans Menace to picket an American Association of Paediatrics (AAP) conference in Boston on 26th October 1996.

Those picketing this event were outraged that the doctors attending the conference were recommending and conducting infant genital surgery on intersex kids in order to make them more “normal”. Some of those protesting had been subjected to those kinds of surgery when they were infants.

The central message of Intersex Awareness Day (IAD) is the de-medicalisation of natural variations in a person’s sex anatomy. Intersex is not a disease, a disorder, a medical “condition”. The use of stigmatising language such as this has led to poor mental health, marginalisation even invisibilisation, and exclusion from social institutions for Intersex people.

On this day we hope to make as many people as possible aware of what intersex is and that intersex people everywhere lack those most fundamental human rights, the right to autonomy over our own bodies, the right to a life without discrimination, the right to a life without shame and secrecy.

In short it is a call for our right to an equal place in society.
Intersex is difference in the same way that eye colour or right- or left-handedness are differences or human biological variations. As with handedness or sexual orientation, societies have, in the past, looked upon human variations through the lens of prejudice and then sought ways to “cure” or eliminate that variation.

At a fundamental level homophobic bigotry, intolerance and ancient superstitions underpin contemporary mistreatment of intersex people.

Intersex people are subjected to forced gendering and surgical alterations to our bodies to “disappear” our differences in a society that regards difference in sex anatomy as deeply suspicious.

More on What is intersex?

Intersex refers to a series of medical conditions in which a child’s genetic sex (chromosomes) and phenotypic sex (genital appearance) do not match, or are somehow different from the “standard” male or female. About one in 2,000 babies are born visibly intersexed, while some others are detected later. The current medical protocol calls for the surgical “reconstruction” of these different but healthy bodies to make them “normal,” but this practice has become increasingly controversial as adults who went through the treatment report being physically, emotionally, and sexually harmed by such procedures.

Beside stopping cosmetic genital surgeries, what are intersex activists working toward?

Surgery is just part of a larger pattern of how intersex children are treated; it is also important to stop shame, secrecy and isolation that are socially and medically imposed on children born with intersex conditions under the theory that the child is better off it they didn’t hear anything about it. Therefore, it’s not enough to simply stop the surgery; we need to replace it with social and psychological support as well as open and honest communication.

What’s so significant about October 26?

On October 26, 1996, intersex activists from Intersex Society of North America (carrying the sign “Hermaphrodites With Attitude”) and our allies from Transexual Menace held the first public intersex demonstration in Boston, where American Academy of Pediatrics was holding its annual conference. The action generated a lot of press coverage, and made it difficult for the medical community to continue to neglect our growing movement. That said, events related to Intersex Awareness Day can take place throughout October and does not necessarily have to be on the 26th.

Important to Remember:
INTERSEX is not a part of transgender because intersex is not about gender. Intersex is about anatomical differences in sex.
Below are some of the differences in the experience of trans and intersex individuals
Trans:
Self-identified gender does not match apparent sex at birth.
Some human rights protection. In NSW this is limited to “recognised transgender” or people thought to be “transgendered” – 36B Anti-Discrimination Act 1977 in Australia.
Can change cardinal documents, but usually requires irreversible surgeries usually involving sterilization and applicants must not be married.
The right to marry someone of the opposite legal gender.
A full and functional reproductive system.
Physical differences limited to brain anatomy.
Transsexual people have an effective medical protocol that produces a 98% effective outcome with long-term studies and follow-ups.
The right to choose the time of surgery with extensive peer support.
The ability to participate fully and in an informed manner in their surgical and hormonal options.
Transsexual people generally have a strongly defined sense of gender – man or woman.
Can compete in sport up to and including Olympic level through established protocols.
Many effective and extensive organizations worldwide, with some NGOs attracting government funding (e.g. NSW Gender
Centre).
also see:

Coming Out Day – tips and suggestions

Today is otherwise known as US National Coming out day but as per usual when they sneeze we catch a cold and so follow the lead as the template is set, it may be difficult to come out fully in Jamaica especially those on the lower socio economic strata who are far more exposed to the earthy homo-negative responses as the national psyche still has not fully come accustomed the ever expanding sexuality spectrum. The University of Illinois provided this wonderful list of how to come out which I found most applicable to our local scenario.

Also see our diva Diana King’s coming out story on sister blog GLBTQJA: HERE

Coming out Transgender: HERE

and Making a Coming Out Plan: HERE

Coming Out

For lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people, coming out is a process of understanding, accepting, and valuing one’s sexual orientation/identity. Coming out includes both exploring one’s identity and sharing that identity with others. It also involves coping with societal responses and attitudes toward LGBT people. LGBT individuals are forced to come to terms with what it means to be different in a society that tends to assume everyone to be heterosexual and that tends to judge differences from the norm in negative ways. The coming out process is very personal. This process happens in different ways and occurs at different ages for different people. Some people are aware of their sexual identity at an early age; others arrive at this awareness only after many years. Coming out is a continuing, sometimes lifelong, process.While some anxiety related to sexuality is common among college students, the problems facing LGBT people are often more difficult than those facing others. Because positive role models are often difficult to identify, LGBT people may feel alone and unsure of their own sexual identities. Fear of rejection is greater among LGBT people due to the prejudices in society against them.

Coming Out to Oneself

Recognizing your own sexual identity and working toward self-acceptance are the first steps in coming out. First, concerning sexual identity, it helps to think of a sexual orientation continuum that ranges from exclusive same sex attraction to exclusive opposite sex attraction. Exploring your sexual identity may include determining where you presently fit along that continuum.

Concerning self-acceptance, it can be very helpful to focus on the positive aspects of LGBT culture, for example, its music, art, theater, books, events, and groups. It is also very helpful to seek out positive, well adjusted and comfortable role models among LGBT people. Building on the positive does not mean that you pretend that our society is past its discrimination, fears, and negative myths concerning LGBT people, or that these things do not have any effects on LGBT people. However, these negative things are better understood as externally based rather than inherent to your identity or your orientation. Part of developing a positive sense of self is understanding that your own homophobia is also externally based, the product of societal prejudices and anti-LGBT biases that have impinged upon you for much of your life.

There are many things to think about when considering coming out. Some of the positive outcomes may be increased self-esteem, greater honesty in one’s life, and a sense of greater personal integrity. In addition, there is often a sense of relief and a reduction of tension when one stops trying to deny or hide such an important part of his/her life. Coming out can lead to greater freedom of self-expression, positive sense of self and more healthy and honest relationships.

One safe means of beginning to come out to yourself is through reading about how others have dealt with similar issues. There are many books and periodicals available on all facets of LGBT life, from clinical studies on LGBT people to collections of A coming out stories.

Coming Out to Other Lesbians and Gay Men

Often, after spending some time getting in touch with one’s own feelings, the next step is to come out to others. It is usually advisable to come out first to those who are most likely to be supportive. LGBT people are a potential natural support system because they have all experienced at least some of the steps in the process of coming out. Sharing experiences about being gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender can help you decrease feelings of isolation and shame. Furthermore, coming out to other LGBT people can help you build a community of people who can then support and assist you in coming out to others in your life. Many LGBT communities offer a number of helpful resources, including local coming out groups, switchboards, social outlets, and political and cultural activities and organizations.

Coming out to other LGBT people does not need to happen quickly. Also, choosing to do so does not mean that you must conform to real or presumed expectations of the LGBT community. What is most important is that you seek your own path through the comingout process and that you attend to your unique, personal timetable. You should not allow yourself to be pressured into anything you are not ready for or don’t want to do. It is important to proceed at your own pace, being honest with yourself and taking time to discover who you really are.

Coming Out to Heterosexuals

Perhaps your most difficult step in coming out will be to reveal yourself to heterosexuals. It is at this step that you may feel most likely to encounter negative consequences. Thus it is particularly important to go into this part of the coming out process with open eyes. For example, it will help to understand that some heterosexuals will be shocked or confused initially, and that they may need some time to get used to the idea that you are LGBT. Also, it is possible that some heterosexual family members or friends may reject you initially. However, do not consider them as hopeless; many people come around in their own time.

Loss of employment or housing are also possibilities that some LGBT people face. In some places it is still legal to discriminate against LGBT individuals for housing, employment and other issues. You should take this into consideration when deciding to whom and where you “come out” .

Coming out to others is likely to be a more positive experience when you are more secure with your sexuality and less reliant on others for your positive self-concept. The necessary clarification of feelings is a process that usually takes place over time. It may be a good idea to work through that process before you take the actual steps. Usually it is not a good idea to come out on the spur of the moment. Make coming out an action, not a reaction.

In coming out to others, consider the following:

  • Think about what you want to say and choose the time and place carefully.
  • Be aware of what the other person is going through. The best time for you might not be the best time for someone else.
  • Present yourself honestly and remind the other person that you are the same individual you were yesterday.
  • Be prepared for an initially negative reaction from some people. Do not forget that it took time for you to come to terms with your sexuality, and that it is important to give others the time they need.
  • Have friends lined up to talk with you later about what happened.
  • Don’t give up hope if you don’t initially get the reaction you wanted. Due to inculcated societal prejudices mentioned earlier, some people need more time than others to come to terms with what they have heard.

Above all, be careful no to let your self-esteem depend entirely on the approval of others. If a person rejects you and refuses to try to work on acceptance, that’s not your fault. Keep in mind that this initial refusal may get reversed once the individual gets used to the idea that you are LGBT. If time does not seem to change the individual’s attitude toward you, then you may want to re-evaluate your relationship and its importance to you. Remember that you have the right to be who you are, you have the right to be out and open about all important aspects of your identity including your sexual orientation, and in no case is another person’s rejection evidence of your lack of worth or value.

Summary

The decision to come out is always personal. Whether to come out and, if so, when, where, how, and to whom are all questions you must answer for yourself. Taking control of this process includes being aware in advance of potential ramifications so that you can act positively rather than defensively. Coming out may be one of the most difficult tasks you confront in your life, but it can also be one of the most rewarding. Coming out is one way of affirming your dignity and the dignity of other LGBT people. Remember that you are not alone; there is a viable LGBT community waiting to be explored, and more heterosexual “allies” are willing to offer their support than you might have first imagined.

Need Additional Help?

Some suggested readings to help you throughout this process are:

  1. Now That You Know. Betty Fairchild & Robert Leighton. New York, NY. Harcourt Brace and Jovanovich, 1989.
  2. Beyond Acceptance. Carolyn Welch Griffin, Marina J. Wirth & Arthur G. Wirth. New York, NY. St. Martin’s Press, 1997.
  3. Straight Parents/Gay Children. Robert A. Bernstein. New York, NY. Thunder’s Mouth Press, 1995.

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 

Gov’t Hush Hush On Gay Pressure …As Promoters Forced To Pull Queen Ifrica From Canada Show

Hasani Walters, Gleaner Writer

Queen Ifrica

Pressure from the Jamaica Association of Gays and Lesbians Abroad (JAGLA), a Canadian gay-rights group, has led to the removal of dancehall/reggae artiste Queen Ifrica from the roster of performers at the Rastafest International Reggae Concert which was held at Downsview Park, Canada, yesterday.

Early last week, a Facebook campaign was launched by the group in an effort to prevent Queen Ifrica from performing at the stage show.

“The campaign was started because we discovered that Queen Ifrica was slated to perform at an event called Rastafest in Toronto. Off the heels of her recent homophobic outburst (at the Grand Gala) days after the death of Dwayne Jones, our members felt disrespected that she would be allowed to perform in our country. It’s a gross double standard on her part, to even travel to Toronto, one of the most diverse countries in the world, to perform for money,” a representative from JAGLA told The Gleaner prior to the show.

Lobby pleased

In a press release to The Sunday Gleaner, the group expressed their support of the move by the promoters to withdraw the entertainer from the line-up.

“This is a welcomed move by the promoters. We have to send a clear message that persons who make comments that jeopardise the well-being of members of the LGBT community in Jamaica will not be welcomed in Canada. We hope that other homophobic persons will use this instance as a reminder that acts that incite hate will have negative consequences. We hope as well that the Government of Jamaica will move swiftly to put in place measures to protect members of the LGBT community,” the release stated.

Efforts to contact Queen Ifrica proved unsuccessful. However, in an earlier interview, when asked about her utterances at the Grand Gala, Queen Ifrica said that she had only expressed what she believed in.

“Like myself, I think they are exercising their right to speak for what they believe in. However, I think it is unfair for them to incriminate me when there is no incrimination there. I simply spoke for what I believed in. They should simply speak from what they believe in but not try to tarnish my character in the process,” she said.

The Government was also hush-hush on the matter, as efforts to get a comment from the Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna only returned an emailed response from Sasha-Gay Lewis, the senior communication officer at the Ministry of Youth and Culture, which read, “We have no comment.”

A statement by Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) stated that the group took “note of recent local and international developments subsequent to Queen Ifrica’s performance on August 6, 2013 at the Grand Gala”.

J-FLAG also acknowledged that less explicitly anti-gay music is being produced and broadcast in Jamaica. They believe, however, that dialogue is important in order for a greater understanding about the impact of anti-gay sentiments on the exclusion of and hostility towards LGBT people in Jamaica.

ENDS

also see: Queen Ifrica’s “Freedom of Speech” & advocacy found wanting it is indeed sad that yet again the guardians of the local struggle have become so impervious to the population that another group overseas has had to step in in frustration it seems on the face of it with JFLAG’s stewardship especially after the exclusion of the homeless men from the symposium on homelessness in Kingston on May 17th International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia since then many persons have been up in arms about that and have been very critical of the J’s overall advocacy some of whom were once staunch supporters. So pronounced is the discord that JFLAG own staff especially the Programs Manager have been removing themselves from engaging the community on a whole on social media. It is sad that this new group although with good intentions have left us with a black eye and another layer added to the struggle that of the lobby now stifling free speech. Persons overseas who have our interest at heart NEED to take the lead from persons on the ground as there are consequences for such agitations, indeed all public agitations have such and are to be expected but care must be taken and proper communications and strategising be done prior to execution.

ed-cart-sun-25-august2_w452

JFLAG’s initial reaction was what actually set the stage for this latest impasse for all intents and purposes their continued over intellectualized style of crisis communicating has landed us in drama again. The very first sentence in their press release labelled Queen Ifrica and Tony Rebel as vitriolic and carrying some anti gay animus; for God’s sake will the J just get direct with the cynical public that they want to convince so much so that Tony Rebel in that ill fated interview on Nationwide Radio where Mr Rebel humiliated the ED of JFLAG Dane Lewis as he asked Dane where did he Tony said any anti gay remarks that were suggesting violence and Mr Lewis could not then came the laughter and ridicule of the use of the words “vitriolic and anti gay animus” and he basically mopped up the floor with the press release and Dane fumble while cleverly forcing Mr Lewis to an apology, however Dane stopped short of a public apology and instead suggested they meet face to face but even that was met with laughter yet again as Mr Rebel suggested meeting in private may have some sexually suggestive undertones. It was that sequence of events it seems that have caused this new Canadian based group to be formed and acting on their own devoid of the real thrust that is the Stop Murder Music Campaign. Queen Ifrica and Tony Rebel are in my eyes second tier homo-negative reggae acts and not as vitriolic as labelled by JFLAG landing us with a backlash we may yet to recover from in years to come.

Peace and tolerance

H

Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship’s continued fear mongering on Christian persecution post buggery law amendment & re-socialization

Battle Lines Javed Jaghai versus the state & the Jamaica Buggery Law
Shirley RIchards of LCF fame

Past and present Presidents of the anti gay, anti abortion Christian group the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship, LCF Shirley Richards and Helen C. Nicholson continued to express fears that gay marriage and social re-engineering will be the norm in Jamaica if the buggery law is repealed as per the legal challenge launched by Javed Jaghai on June 25, 2013 and which has been put off until October 4, 2013 as several religious groups including the LCF, Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society, JCHS, Other church groups, Love March and Marcus Garvey Political Party have joined the suit. In as far as the challenge is concerned which is outside of the now promised buggery review by the current government at a date to be announced is not to make buggery law disappear but to test the constitutionality of the law on the backdrop of Mr Jaghai’s personal issues as stated in his affidavit (he is rewrite same for the October mention date in the case management stage) where he says he was evicted by his landlord as they wanted to attempt some reparative therapy efforts due to his public utterances on homosexuality. Unfortunately the poor communication by the group Mr Jaghai is associated with namely JFLAG in sensitizing not only the public but the LGBT community in understanding the call for the amendment to the law is a major flaw; the fact that the church groups still interpret the struggle as a call for a full repeal when the thrust by their words is an amendment to include a definition of rape under for non-consensual buggery and privacy for adults; buggery will remain for persons not considered adults and who are abused.

On a discussion program on Love 101FM hosted by Blossom White on July 7, 2013 it sounded like a cataclysmic doom heading towards Jamaica that gay marriage will be made legal; fear that children will be taught all kinds of inappropriate materials in the eyes of the church; other kinds of rights outside of normal life will be forced on the nation; the church’s opposition will be criminalized as hate speech (poor anecdotal references made); anti gay speech will be criminalized; religious freedoms will be curtailed; churches will be forced to perform gay marriages and other so called societal ills. Speaking of societal ills the introduction to the program suggested that they were looking at a post examination of the Love March’s heroes circle protest and the Montego Bay’s ministers’ fraternal corresponding Montego Bay march against supposed ills yet homosexuality was eventually the only theme discussed for the twenty five plus minutes of air time. Such is the dishonesty that presents itself sometimes when these matters are presented by the church, the strength that is found to deal with homosexuality yet the other so called ills get very little or no such fervent attention. Namely the thousands of missing children, the obvious corruption in high places, the high crime wave, the poor political leadership, the creation of outcasts and maintaining the clear distance via stigma and hypocrisy. The misleading emphasis on the legalization of homosexuality is also another piece of  deceptive alarmist speech used to bolster the anti gay position when we know fully well that homosexuality is NOT illegal in Jamaica and buggery does not only apply to gay and bisexual men who practice penile penetrative anal sex but also heterosexual couples as well.

The discussion opened with among other things this from the host “Why does the church target homosexuality not wanting it to be legalized in Jamaica?”…………….. “Would the flood gates be opened for judgement or more judgement upon the land and what can the church do to hinder anything from changing?” clear fear mongering being set as the stage for the discussion then came the marriage redefinition fear soon afterwards where the sections of the marriage act were quoted when no such agitation for same sex marriage rights have been made in Jamaica just yet but if we were to follow Blossom White in her opening it was a done deal as she likened a group in favour of same sex marriage was taking the matter of legalizing homosexuality to the supreme court. In fact the word redefinition appeared some five times in the exchange and re-socialization or re-engineering also made several appearances which had me wondering are these persons for real? What was even more bizarre in all this is the defection if you will of Helen Nicholson who years ago had a more tolerant stance on homosexuality and the related matters yet she has been pulled into this so much so to become the President of the LCF. The host and guests claim that the business of buggery is a legal, moral, social and political issues and that religious voices will be silenced eventually by law where programs such as the one having the discussion will have to sanitize its format in order to avoid legal punishment.

References were made to the United States DOMA, Defence of Marriage Act and Proposition 8 strike downs in recent times and that the local legal challenges are in tandem with other efforts including that of the Organization of American States recently concluded meeting where certain calls were made to enact some sort of sanctions for what is considered homophobic language or actions by persons. Helen Nicholson said “To The extent that they are rallying their troops the church must be very alert and recognise that their voices must not be silenced and drowned out by those who would be vocal and step forward to challenge a change.” Mrs Shirley Richards meantime continued that the church is going to court to apparently avert what has happened in other countries (albeit that those countries have different social issue that attend) she referenced a preacher who was arrested in England for so called homophobic language yet she did not offer specifics of the case and the continued generalizations is what is usually used to justify their anti gay position. Sadly the followership glibly buys into the mess and hangs on to every word these persons say.  She continued that marriage is under threat; threats to freedom of conscience; freedom of religion and freedom of expression, yet she forgot to take note it seems that the aforementioned marches were done unimpeded and that her appearance and that of her compatriots at a recent University debate on the church being an obstacle to rights was also unimpeded and her voice was not drowned or muzzled as would happen in such events hosted by their groups. She said that societies that allowed homosexual rights have seen religious freedoms curtailed, she said the buggery law is the most effective strategic barrier to the re-socialization of society a point she also made on CVM TV’s Direct program on June 26, 2013 she said such re-socialization is in favour of the “homosexual lifestyle” she continued that if that barrier is pulled then everything else in the form of agendas will come flowing in, her fear is that what happens in other countries where rights clash such as religious liberty where I do not see such curtailment happening yet she claims pastors have gotten into trouble and a teacher was dismissed for saying homosexuality is a sin again with no specifics.

The dishonest perception being banded about that somehow the repeal or decriminalization of buggery in Jamaica is also going to automatically cause Christian persecution is so farfetched and ludicrous and is a false dichotomy that it boggles the mind as to whether the voices which are heard by far are really up on the issues of sexuality, gender and rights. The Johns couple was referred to who were a Jamaican couple who foster kids in the UK but were unaware of the change in the law and not endorsing gay relationships as a form of family unit were blocked by the state from re-entering the foster care system. No one asked them to accept homosexuality but just to also include as the teaching materials the various forms of the family unit and they refused fearing damage to the children.

Miss Nicholson said that the law is always legislating morality but the question is whose morality as there is no such thing as a moral law. She referred the Ireland case and the repeal of buggery there yet the country did not sink into doom she claims that those were different days and the agenda has changed. She sounded as if she was counting her words for such a lawyer and a former radio show host and television news presenter and the egging or prodding whispers in the background by Mrs Shirley Richards were audibly clear that she was being told what to say, Miss Nicholson however continued that there is a more liberal approach by the gay lobby which was not part of the agenda before and a schism between our local position and our laws versus the treatise we are party to internationally she says the more Jamaica owns the process is the more controlled it will be and if we allow others to come in (suggesting the long held belief of foreign imposition of homosexuality) and fund our education programs etc then he who pays the piper calls the tune. The gratuitous tolerance line came through as per usual that they did not want homosexuals to be hurt or victimized but they seem blindly unaware of the fact their anti gay positions and dishonesties help to fuel the very victimization and stigma towards LGBT people.

Shirley Richards continued “Pull that law and the re-engineering of society will occur ………………….. My concern is for the children, what will they learn as appropriate and normal behaviour?” obviously she is not aware of the changes in sexuality and that teaching children about homosexuality does not make them so. The host Blossom White came with an alarmist posture said an unnamed country where she was had early childhood education institutions doing what amounted to guided imagery and cross dressing exercises on given days for students so that they were made to understand some of the gender issues, yet Miss White chose strong language such as indoctrinate added to that Miss Nicholson suggested that the word or language or re-engineering is “gender” clearly the ladies on this show are very ignorant to the issues attendant to transgenderism and other variants that have been always around but more closely researched and monitored by the scientific communities.

So hundreds of thousands of Jamaicans in earshot of this radio program went away with a one sided approach to this business of homosexuality and the continued fear mongering that the gay lobby is all somehow this godless anti Christ set up devised to persecute Christians. I am left dazed sometimes when I see this kind of rhetoric and why aren’t the gay Christian communities and tolerant Christians generally not speaking up more? I am not even going to mention JFLAG here as their poor leadership on public discourse is plain to see. How can this jittery position be countered?

Peace and tolerance

H

The Jamaica Council of Churches on Homosexuality thus far

The Jamaica Council of Churches on Homosexuality thus far …….

Gary-Harriott.jpg

 

JCC’s General Secretary Gary Harriot

Exactly one month ago May 28th after a previous interview alongside the Executive Director of Jamaica Forum for Lesbians Allsexuals and Gays, JFLAG Dane Lewis on George Davis Live on Nationwide where a clear position was not really established by the JCC a follow-up report came in print media suggesting the Jamaica Council of Churches, JCC had not put a formal position on homosexuality given the hotly debated issue with court challenges in full effect. General Secretary of the JCC Gary Harriot in that interview said the conversations need to continue as other Caribbean church leaders expressed the pressure that their societies are under to repeal laws supposedly against the “homosexual lifestyle.” Gen Sec Harriot seems unaware or a slip of the tongue that homosexuality is not illegal and buggery is not synonymous with gay men only.

The issue of church members being homosexuals came up for mention as well to which the Gen Sec said the council is yet to finalize an official position although they have a draft in place as a work in progress document, he said whichever church one may go one is bound to find someone struggling with homosexual tendencies or relationship matters not in keeping with the teachings of the church.  Dane Lewis at the time spoke to the questions posed to him on the opposition from the anti gay groups. For the most part it was a slow interview and lacked a more robust feel to peak the public’s interest. Reverend Harriot spoke to the possible changes on the law following the court cases filed and that of those awaiting deliberations (tolerance advert). He said “I can express two basic points, there is a side of the church that sees homosexuality as a moral issue …… legalizing such action may not be the way to deal with it but to deal with it from a moral perspective, the other side of the coin when you look what is happening elsewhere it looks like a strategic political move and that if you were to remove the law then what you are doing is that you are opening a flood gate that you are going into directions where your whole social fabric would be changed”

He said also that there is some tension and that the JCC has not come to a formal position which they hope to do in a few weeks if they are able to arrive at a consensus.

As far as I am concerned they seem limp wristed overall, they are silent on most matters and other societal ills especially when the Peoples National Party, PNP are in power and have been accused of being politically aligned to the party hence their docility. This cautious treading is far different when compared to the other more radical evangelical bodies and voices. Fast forward to today on Love 101FM with host Theologian Reverend Clinton Chisholm, the interview had a different tone when compared to the Nationwide radio George Davis Live session as aforementioned, Reverend Harriot reiterated his point of the JCC not having an official statement yet on their position towards homosexuality but he mentioned what the members have put forward thus far:

Some members did not see homosexuality as natural or normal

For the pastoral side persons who are engaged in a homosexual lifestyle their humanity must be regarded

They must benefit from the pastoral care from the church to which he included reparative therapy as a solution to the “lifestyle”

Marriage must remain as is between a male and a female

They are unsure and do not have a consensus on whether the buggery law should be repealed; some are of the view it should be kept while others if the act takes place in private between two consenting adults in private then while not supporting the behaviour it should not be a matter for a person should be held for a criminal act.

Should buggery be treated as a legal matter or a moral issue?

He lamented the selectivity of the church on issues and tied into that is the ministry of healing that must take precedence

Policing sex laws he agreed with Reverend Chisholm is a challenge and examples such as adultery, incest and child abuse were offered. He mentioned psycho social skills in spotting a possible abuse victims but the problem of police actually having to intrude to see what suspects are doing is an issue.

The pseudo scientific component was brought in the exchange as proving some aspects of sex crimes including buggery would involve DNA evidence and the individual subjecting themselves to clinical examination.

Discussions with groups like JFLAG and the Jamaica Civil Society Coalition on the issues and also with major church leaders not JCC as a group but committees that one or all the groups are apart. The JCC sat with the group JFLAG during the high moments of the homeless MSM issue in New Kingston.

Homosexuality is not in the plan and design of God

The church must become proactive in teaching persons about sex and sexuality and the consequences of unhealthy practices he however highlighted that the buggery law does not only apply to same gender sex.

General Secretary Harriot spent a great deal emphasizing reparative therapy and counselling for persons supposedly damaged by homosexuality. He said persons are in the church struggling he tried to prove causation as from an abuse standpoint or persons were forced into the “lifestyle” and a struggle with the flesh. He also suggested psychotherapy but the pastor who is close to the issue should allow another professional to handle the case as a counselling officer in the church usually a preacher should not also preach to that client who may be in the congregation on any given service date. Conflicts of interest may occur as an illustration while behind pulpit may cause the client to withdraw.

Reverend Clinton Chisholm again proving his ignorance on sexuality committed another infraction this time towards asexual where he made the following comment “If you have never felt a strong pull for sexual intercourse, you are either abnormal, too old, too young or too lie.” Clearly both Reverend needs to be brought up to speed on Asexuality (persons who engage in emotional relations more so than sexual ones) or Demisexuals (persons who only develop sexual interest in someone after a protracted period where an emotional attachment has been formed) for Reverend Clinton to suggest such persons are abnormal is a misnomer as both forms are not considered a disorder by the Diagnostic Statistical Manual, DSM, the guide for all psychological professionals. The training of pastors in counselling was discussed at length and pin pointing sexual problems.

Reverend Harriot also said the church should also get the family of the reparative therapy client and they repeated refer to homosexuality as a lifestyle more so than an innate orientation. He however cautioned that pastors need to know their weakness and if they have strong feelings towards the issue then they should refrain possibly from direct handling of a particular client as it may impact the work.

The “Repentant” homosexual was also examined from an official office standpoint in any church as if they genuinely showed remorse or change then that individual should be restored to their previously held position however Reverend Chisholm expressed reservations as the general membership may not concur with such a decision.

Gay clergy was not officially addressed by the JCC’s draft paper but some churches suggest once persons express homosexual tendencies or desire a need for some redress then reparative work should be done. As long as also there is not an open expression of the lifestyle so in other words keep it to yourself and we may look the other way, without saying it in some many words. A disturbing line from the General Secretary had me stunned for a few second when he said: “As long as the person does not engage in sex and remains celibate then they could be considered for the position.” Strange to me as I thought aloud while listening the interview that in the absence of everyone how would the clergy or pastoral staff know or prove this officer is celibate are they going to monitor the officer’s movement so much? Denominations under the JCC established their own protocols under some guidance for now.

A rather roundabout and unclear set of positions in some sense from the JCC’s standpoint as the leading interfaith body. Even in the face of reparative or conversion therapy proving a failure or agencies that offer such closing case in point Ex-Gay Ministries in the United States there is still this belief that orientation can be changed without disastrous consequences. Just this week the UK and New Jersey have moved to ban conversion therapy and California had done so last year.

See what you make of this.

UPDATE July 8, 2013 New President says Government will bow to gays:

Buggery law: Government will bow

New church head expects pressure from int’l community, gays on Simpson Miller administration


Read more: http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/Buggery-law–Government-will-bow_14640324#ixzz2YVr0WkDB

Peace and tolerance

H