where I sought to warn to these promoters and patrons about hosting and attending gay events in residential neighbourhoods and the behaviour of patrons attending, attracting unnecessary attention to our limited "safe spaces"
Thursday, July 31, 2008
where I sought to warn to these promoters and patrons about hosting and attending gay events in residential neighbourhoods and the behaviour of patrons attending, attracting unnecessary attention to our limited "safe spaces"
The relentless march of civilisation has given rise, inevitably, and thankfully, to the emergence of a preponderance of human rights groups, without which this world would be a dark and desperately wicked place. And even with their presence, there is still far too much misery and cruelty as man's inhumanity to man abounds.
Jamaica has its share of human rights groups, the most well known of which are Jamaicans For Justice (JFJ), the Independent Jamaica Council for Human Rights (IJCHR) and Families Against State Terrorism (FAST), albeit an apparent one-person organisation.
Frankly, we couldn't begin to imagine a world, or a Jamaica for that matter, without human rights groups. All three - JFJ, IJCHR and FAST - appear to have a common target - the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), and to a lesser extent, the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) while it conducts joint patrols with the police force.
But it is here now that the dilemma begins.
We think it is full time that this common mandate of theirs be reviewed, broadened and deepened. It cannot be that breaches of human rights are only contained in abuses by the police and/or soldiers.
This inordinate insistence on making loud cries when the security forces go wrong but never nearly enough when criminals and other groups go wrong, has created the unfortunate perception that our human rights groups are more interested in the welfare of alleged criminals than in their alleged victims.
Obviously, there is much work to be done to reform and clean up the police force. We would never be so foolish as to stick our head in the sand where the shortcomings of the force are concerned. In this regard, we commend the work of our human rights groups.
However, we strongly believe that victims' rights are as important as those of criminals, if not paramount. It may be that because their funding is attached to their stated mandate, human rights groups feel constrained not to stray from their articles of association or their memorandum of understanding.
That may also explain why in a crime-ridden country like Jamaica, our human rights groups appear impotent to effectively join the fight against crime and violence.Of course they will argue that their contribution is in trying to clean up the police force and, hopefully, increase the confidence of the public to supply the constabulary with information against criminals.
What we are saying is that they need to do more to be relevant in today's Jamaica. If we face the facts, and we had better, we'd admit that criminals are getting more vicious. We are in a time when it means nothing to them to cut the throat of a baby on the breast or a helpless octogenarian woman.
It is wrong that decent Jamaicans must bear the image of brute beasts in a country with the dubious reputation of being the second most murderous in the world. It is wrong that each year the murder toll is higher than the previous. It is wrong that Jamaicans who have left our shores to work for years in extreme cold cannot come home to retire, because of fear of crime. At some point, we have to deal with this monster.
If human rights groups think that it is only the poor, jobless ones who commit crime, they are making a sad mistake. Organised crime has brains and resources behind it. The poor are merely the foot soldiers and often by choice too.
Our human rights groups need to get on board by rethinking their mandate and looking beyond their donors' public relations need.
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Howard Simpson, 37-year-old deliveryman of Christiana is to return to court today when his case will continue.
He is charged with buggery, indecent exposure and resisting arrest.
Reports are that Simpson began stalking the complainant early last year.
However, in April this year, he took the complainant in his car to Alligator Pond by the sea, where he used his knife to threaten the complainant's life. Afterwards, he had sex with the farmer on the beach, both men were found some hours later in Simpson's car, naked and asleep by the police.
When accosted, Simpson resisted arrest and allegedly asked the police: "What's wrong with having sex with a man?" He reportedly threw away a pair of handcuffs belonging to the police into the sea. As a result, additional police had to be summoned to arrest the accused.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
This is one of several measures implemented under the new licensing regime for children's homes.
In the wake of recent reports that wards of the state being abused,
Chief Executive Officer of the Child Development Agency (CDA) Allison Anderson said a detailed background check will be done on all potential employees.
"With the police clearance certificate, we should be able to find out who has criminal records and also in terms of the qualification of the staff and so on, that will also come on as part of the licensing regime and we're just going to have to keep on with the monitoring," she said.
Regular checks were carried out
Ms Anderson is also defending the CDA's monitoring of children's homes.
The Agency has been under fire from human rights group Jamaicans for Justice which has accused the agency of being lax in supervising state-run homes.
The criticism followed an alleged case of buggery at a residential child care facility.
A Pastor in St. Mary, who is also a supervisor at a boys' home, was charged with 30 counts of buggery when he appeared in court last week.
Miss Anderson said while there are shortcomings in the system, the CDA has been carrying out regular checks at facilities.
"In every way, unannounced, announced, in executive management teams including myself going out making visits to the homes and indicating to them what is wrong and what is right.
Our compliance rate was low ... up to 85% in terms of our monitoring ... we got it up to 99%. We did 175 visits each month out of 176 ... we've had the Office of the Children's Advocate doing their visits and making those reports," said Ms Anderson.
She added that the agency will be lobbying for additional staff to effectively carry out its operations.
Earlier this month the United States Senate approved a new bill that includes clauses that will end the ban.
Senators authorised $50 billon (£25bn) for PEPFAR, the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, by 80 votes to 16.
Republican Senator Gordon Smith and Democratic Senator Kerry attached an amendment to a bill repealing current US immigration law.
At present any foreign national who tests positive for HIV is "inadmissible," meaning he or she is barred from permanent residence and even short-term travel in the United States.
There are waivers available, but obtaining them has always been difficult.
The ban originates from 1987, when fear about the spread of the disease led US officials to require anyone with HIV to declare their status and apply for a special visa.
At present the law requires the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to include infection with HIV (the only disease or condition specified in the statute) on the list of diseases that serve as a basis for inadmissibility.
Lambda Legal use impact litigation, education and public policy work to push for gay equality for LGBT people and those living with HIV.
Executive director Kevin Cathcart said in a letter to President Bush:
"By including this provision in the bill, Congress has finally recognised that the entry bar against individuals living with HIV is an unjustifiable infringement of basic human rights, not in keeping with the traditions of this country, the principles on which it was founded or the role we want to play in the global fight against HIV and AIDS.
"The power now rests with you and your administration to complete the process of dismantling this ill-advised, unfair and anachronistic policy.
"Lambda Legal urges you to sign this bill into law.
"Moreover, we urge you to immediately direct the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to begin the process of removing HIV from the list of diseases that serve as grounds for inadmissibility.
"Not only is this the medically and scientifically correct thing to do, it is the right thing to do."
It is unclear if President Bush’s administration will take action or allow the new President’s team to make the changes when they take office in January.
Section 305 of the PEPFAR reauthorisation bill repeals the statutory language requiring HHS to include HIV on the list of diseases that make a person inadmissible to the US, thus returning to HHS the authority to make a determination based on medical knowledge and public health principles.
"The ban makes absolutely no sense given what we know about HIV," said Scott Schoettes, HIV staff attorney at Lambda Legal.
"The dismantling of this blatantly discriminatory policy is long overdue."
The Child Development Agency (CDA) has also been mandated to institute measures to ensure that places of safety and child care facilities across the island are operating under the Child Care and Protection Act.
The instructions were handed down by the minister at a meeting held yesterday with human rights lobby group Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ), which expressed concern after an Observer report last week, of allegations of buggery against the superintendent of a St Mary boys' home.
The supervisor has since been arrested and charged with 30 counts of buggery.
"The minister has instructed the CDA to implement the [licensing] measures immediately, but we are really upset that five years after the Keating report, we still have not improved. Places of safety and the authorities are still failing in their responsibility to protect the welfare of our children. This is unacceptable, it has to be addressed," JFJ executive director, Dr Carolyn Gomes told the Observer.
In 2003, the government established a committee, headed by Sadie Keating, a retired civil servant to investigate sexual abuses at government and private children's homes and places of safety.
This was following a public outcry by Kay Osborne, a Jamaican woman who had attempted to adopt a child from a church-run home but had raised alarm after the child showed signs of abuse.
After a series of investigations, Osborne's fears were supported by the Keating report.
The report at the time also made it clear that such abuse was not confined to a single institution.
Meanwhile, in condemning the behaviour of the superintendent, Spencer said that Cabinet approved on July 21, an increased grant for privately owned children's homes. The 66 per cent increase is expected to help homes achieve the standards set by the CDA, the body charged with protecting the rights of the country's children.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Usaam Auf Mukwaaya was one of three people arrested for a peaceful protest at the HIV/AIDS Implementers' Meeting last month.
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) said in a statement today:
"Mr Mukwaaya was on his way back from Friday prayers (on July 25th) when he was stopped by a police patrol car.
"Three men in police uniform and a fourth in civilian attire put Mr Mukwaaya in the patrol car.
"He was driven to a building where he was led through a dark hall to an interrogation room, and aggressively questioned about the Ugandan LGBT movement.
"Mr Mukwaaya was cut around the hands and tortured with a machine that applies extreme pressure to the body, preventing breathing and causing severe pain.
"Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG), a coalition of three LGBTI organisations in Uganda, and the IGLHRC, searched unsuccessfully for Mr Mukwaaya from 3:00pm on July 25 to the morning of July 26, 2008, inquiring as to his whereabouts at five police stations in Kampala.
"On July 26, 2008, at about 11:40am, Mr Mukwaaya was driven from the building where he'd been held for about 30 to 45 minutes and dumped.
"Shaken and bruised, he boarded a motorbike taxi to the city centre and telephoned colleagues from SMUG who found him weak, filthy and without shoes and some of his clothing."
IGLHRC has called on people to send faxes and emails in protest at Mr Mukwaaya's treatment to the President of Uganda, Kaguta Yoweri Museveni, and other officials.
The Ugandan President spoke of his country's "rejection" of homosexuality during a speech he gave at the wedding of a former MP's daughter earlier this month.
Mr Museveni said the purpose of life was to create children and that homosexuality was a "negative foreign culture."
During his time in office LGBT Ugandans have been repeatedly threatened, harassed or attacked. Many have fled the country.
The plight of Uganda's gay men and lesbians has been highlighted recently, with high profile asylum cases such as Prossy Kakooza championed by Peter Tatchell and LGBT equality groups.
Many gay asylum seekers are being deported from the UK on the premise that they can continue to pursue their sexuality in the native land if they act "discreetly."
The IGLHRC said:
"In the past five years, the government has arrested LGBT people on sodomy charges, harassed LGBT human rights defenders, and fined a private radio station that broadcast programming on HIV prevention and men who have sex with men," the group said.
"In July 2005, Uganda's Parliament passed an amendment to the constitution making Uganda only the second country in the world to use its constitution to outlaw marriage between people of the same sex.
"A coalition of religious leaders has marched through the streets of Kampala demanding the arrests of LGBT people with one cleric even calling for the "starving to death" of homosexuals.
"Inspired by the official homophobia of the state, the Ugandan media has published lists of gay men and lesbians, leading to physical violence, loss of employment and educational opportunities by LGBT people."
Mr Mac-Iyalla, 36, is the leader of Changing Attitude Nigeria, a group that works for equality for lesbians, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) members of the Anglican Communion.
CAN also promotes a wider LGBT human rights agenda in Nigeria, campaigning, for instance, against the Nigerian government's bid in 2006 to outlaw same-sex marriage and ban on gay organisations, churches, helplines, counselling groups, meetings and newspapers.
Davis Mac-Iyalla said today:
"The people I wish to thank include the UK government and the Home Office, Islington MP Jeremy Corbyn, my solicitor Abigail Evans of Wilson and Co, the Reverend Stephen Coles, the Reverend Colin Coward and the trustees of Changing Attitude, Peter Tatchell of OutRage!, Sebastian Rocca of UK Lesbian and Gay Immigration Group, Erika Baker, Susan Strong, Mike Hersee, Julian Batson, Inclusive Church and others too numerous to mention.
"Your support in different ways has been absolutely invaluable, not just for me but for our common goals.
"I'm very grateful to the UK government for granting me asylum.
"It means I will have an opportunity to continue working for the full inclusion of LGBT people in the Anglican church in Nigeria.
"My heart really goes out to my LGBT brothers and sisters still trapped in Nigeria.
"They are intimated and threatened by the increasingly hostile and violent environment against them, fuelled by the hostility of Archbishop Akinola and his fellow bishops - who claim that we don't really exist, and if we do then we are the spawn of the devil.
"It is impossible to have a rational debate in such a climate of hatred coming from what is supposed to be a loving church.
"I think Jesus would be appalled at how low the Anglican Church of Nigeria has sunk by straying so far from his message of love and forgiveness that it does the complete opposite.
"If the Anglican Church of Nigeria and the Nigerian government had a more open-minded and understanding attitude, then people like me would not need asylum in the first place."
Mr Mac-Iyalla was arrested, imprisoned and tortured by the police in Abuja in 2005.
Since March 2008, Mr Mac-Iyalla has received email and text messages threatening to kill him. They originate from Nigeria.
This pattern of escalating threats and attacks made it unsafe for Mr Mac-Iyalla to return to Nigeria.
In June he was arrested and incarcerated in Oakington asylum detention centre in Cambridgeshire but was released in time to speak at Pride London about the situation in Nigeria.
With 17.5 million members, Nigeria is the second-largest Anglican province after the Church of England, but its number of regular churchgoers is far higher and growing.
The leader of the church in Nigeria, Archbishop Peter Akinola, is one of those leading the charge against gay people being ordained as priests or the blessing of gay relationships.
The Anglican Bishop of Uyo, Rt. Rev. Isaac Orama, last year condemned the activities of homosexuals and lesbians in language that typifies Nigerian Anglican leaders' hostility to gays.
"Homosexuality and lesbianism are inhuman," he said.
"Those who practice them are insane, satanic and are not fit to live because they are rebels to God's purpose for man."
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Thanks for your Donations
thank you for your donations via Paypal in helping to keep this blog going, my limited frontline community work, temporary shelter assistance at my home and related costs. Please continue to support me and my allies in this venture that has now become a full time activity. When I first started blogging in late 2007 it was just as a pass time to highlight GLBTQ issues in Jamaica under then JFLAG's blogspot page but now clearly there is a need for more forumatic activity which I want to continue to play my part while raising more real life issues pertinent to us.
Activities & Plans: ongoing and future
- To continue this venture towards website development with an E-zine focus
- Work with other Non Governmental organizations old and new towards similar focus and objectives
- To find common ground on issues affecting GLBTQ and straight friendly persons in Jamaica towards tolerance and harmony
- Exposing homophobic activities and suggesting corrective solutions
- To formalise GLBTQ Jamaica's activities in the long term
- Continuing discussion on issues affecting GLBTQ people in Jamaica and elsewhere
- Welcoming, examining and implemeting suggestions and ideas from you the viewing public
- Present issues on HIV/AIDS related matters in a timely and accurate manner
- Assist where possible victims of homophobic violence and abuse financially, temporary shelter(my home) and otherwise
- Track human rights issues in general with a view to support for ALL
Information & Disclaimer
Individuals who are mentioned or whose photographs appear on this site are not necessarily Homosexual, HIV positive or have AIDS.
This blog contains pictures that may be disturbing. We have taken the liberty to present these images as evidence of the numerous accounts of homophobic violence meted out to alledged gays in Jamaica.
Faces and names witheld for the victims' protection.
This blog not only watches and covers LGBTQ issues in Jamaica and elsewhere but also general human rights and current affairs where applicable.
This blog contains HIV prevention messages that may not be appropriate for all audiences.
If you are not seeking such information or may be offended by such materials, please view labels, post list or exit.
Since HIV infection is spread primarily through sexual practices or by sharing needles, prevention messages and programs may address these topics.
This blog is not designed to provide medical care, if you are ill, please seek medical advice from a licensed practioner
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Recent Homophobic Incidents
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What to do if you are attacked (News You Can Use)
Try to reason with the attacker: Establish communication with the person. This takes a lot of courage. However, a conversation may change the intention of an attacker.
Do not try anything foolish: If you know outmanoeuvring the attacker is impossible, do not try it.
Do not appear to be afraid: Look the attacker in the eye and demonstrate that you are not fearful.
This may have a psychological effect on the individual.
The police 119
Crime Stop 311
Steps to Take When Contronted or Arrested by Police
b) Only give name and address and no other information until a lawyer is present to assist
c) Try to be polite even if the scenario is tensed) Don’t do anything to aggravate the situation
e) Every complaint lodged at a police station should be filed and a receipt produced, this is not a legal requirement but an administrative one for the police to track reports
f) Never sign to a statement other than the one produced by you in the presence of the officer(s)
g) Try to capture a recording of the exchange or incident or call someone so they can hear what occurs, place on speed dial important numbers or text someone as soon as possible
h) File a civil suit if you feel your rights have been violatedi) When making a statement to the police have all or most of the facts and details together for e.g. "a car" vs. "the car" represents two different descriptions
j) Avoid having the police writing the statement on your behalf except incases of injuries, make sure what you want to say is recorded carefully, ask for a copy if it means that you have to return for it