Saturday, February 14, 2009
by Petrina Francis,
Despite a sociocultural brick wall against homosexuality in Jamaica, gays and lesbians say they, too, find creative ways to fête their partners on Valentine's Day - even if for the most part underground.
Jason McFarlane, programmes manager at the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG), has said sex minorities are forced to be extra vigilant while trying to bask in the euphoria of the day.
"We buy flowers and chocolates like everyone else," he told Saturday Life.
"However, the challenges of not being able to show your affection for the same sex openly prevents us being able to do the lovey-dovey things that heterosexuals are allowed to do in public. Because of this, persons have had to find creative ways to make their celebrations meaningful," said McFarlane.
There is strong repulsion to homosexuality in various quarters of Jamaica and polls have shown that there is resistance to open affection among gays. Though homosexuality itself isn't illegal, buggery is outlawed.
Occasional acts of violence against gays, as well as widespread condemnation from dancehall artistes and religious leaders, have earned criticism from global rights bodies such as Amnesty International.
Twenty-five-year-old George Brown, who has been a practising homosexual since 18, told Saturday Life that Valentine's Day is the most important day on the gay calendar - red roses, chocolates, gift baskets, the whole shebang.
"We have private parties, like a red-and-white affair and candlelight dinner and the same romantic stuff," he revealed.
"When we are at parties, you have the same dancing and you would really be surprised to see that a man can dance like how we do," said Brown.
He plans to attend a private party today and will look as hot as ever.
"Yes, I will be all up in drag next week when I go to my party," Brown told Saturday Life last week.
He intends to attend the party by himself this year, as he is not in a steady relationship.
Brown says Valentine's is also the perfect day to send gifts for secret admirers in the gay community.
Valentine's Day is celebrated February 14 each year. The history of the day is inconclusive, comprising elements of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition.
I echo the sentiments made in the House by South West St Ann Member of Parliament Ernest Smith, on February 10, that there should be a tightening of the anti-buggery laws in Jamaica. I have always argued that gays in Jamaica, whether female or male, are the driving force behind most of the domestic violence taking place in Jamaica.
We, in Jamaica, have been too tolerant of a behaviour that is, unequivocally, a sinful act which is not the norm in any decent God-fearing society.
The anti-buggery laws in Jamaica have been under assault by these different gay-rights groups, both locally and internationally, which are trying to force their lifestyle on the Jamaican society.
The schools and churches should step up and educate the young people that homosexuality is a loathsome and unacceptable lifestyle that is destructive to any family and society at large. Jamaica needs to go back to the basics, when the words gay or homosexual were looked upon with scorn and disdain.
- STEWART YOUNGstewartyoung11@hotmail.comFlorida, United States
MP was out of order
I am not gay but I find Ernest Smith's statement to be out of order. Everybody has the God-given rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, in whatever way he or she see fit. Smith should just look at a piece of legislation that he just helped passed, which is in fact helping to kill marriage. It is the law that a woman can call the police on her husband, claiming that her husband has raped her. I guess Smith might want to revisit that law. Why should your sex life be dictated by the Government?
- ROBERT CLARKEhotshot_target_5@hotmail.com,Quebec, Canada
Friday, February 13, 2009
The Crown closed its case yesterday after calling 17 witnesses at the trial of 26-year-old labourer Sheldon Pusey.
Defence lawyer Berry Bryan will be making submissions today in the absence of the 12-member jury.
Yesterday, Bryan made suggestions to the investigating officer, Superintendent McArthur Sutherland, that the accused told him on March 5, 2007, that he was drugged with some type of liquor that King gave him to drink. Bryan suggested that the superintendent was the first to mention to Pusey that he was acting in self-defence when he related the incident, which took place at the deceased's house.
The superintendent denied the suggestions and said he did not see the accused on March 5, 2007.
Bryan theorised that Supt Sutherland told Pusey that he did not intend to kill King and that was why he (Pusey) covered up King and Pusey replied: "Mi can't remember everything because I was drugged, but if you say a so, it must be so."
The superintendent replied that he and Pusey had no such conversation.
The Crown, represented by prosecutors Caroline Hay and Dahlia Findlay, led evidence that King was fatally stabbed at his home at 11A Waterloo Road, Kingston 10, between March 19 and 20, 2006.
Pusey was arrested and charged in March 2007.
Fiyu Pikni - commented on the post "J-FLAG outraged by Smith's broadside against gays..."\(scroll down to see original post)
While I am equally concerned about those statements made by the MP, I am not surprised. So your "outrage" confounds me. Such is the general view of us my friend, and it wont change any time soon. At least we know well where we stand, in terms of the opposition, (however mired in ignorance) that we have to contend with.
Earnest Smith, like may other Jamaicans, has no qualms about stereotyping people he has no clue about- and it makes very little sense. You kill people for being gay, so gays are afraid to "come out" (...which is a nonfunctional term in Jamaica). As a result you have very few openly gay individuals... very effeminate guys escape mob beatings and mutilations only because they don't profess their homosexuality- they day they do so, they're dead. Yet, Jamaicans swear they know all there is to know about homosexuals. Maybe of you gave us a chance to live and to love those we want to, you would realize that we really are no different for heterosexuals...it's not as if their heterosexuality has anything to do with me.
One day they will learn, for we will not remain so silent... so out sight, forever.
Till then, we need to maintain great blogs like these, in which we can voice our opinions, and germinate the seeds of the revolution that must come.
Schifrah - commented on our post "MP's erratic behaviour in Parliament about gays":
Obviously Mr. Smith's report sources come from the Star, X-News(does that one still exist?)or any of the other questionable evening "rags" which traffic in salacious garbage, and pander to the semi-literate.I really thought that one had to be at least erudite to be an attorney, and that part of ones training was to sift fact from fiction, and prepare ones self before opening ones mouth...so much for my faith in the justice system.
Can someone please show me where these violent abusive homosexuals with firearms are in Jamaica, or at very least the scientific data used by Mr Smith to make his case that the police force is "overrun by homosexuals" ...Maybe Mr. Smith is confusing the terms homosexuals and homophobes...Guys lets chip in and buy the man a dictionary!
MEMBERS OF the Jamaica Constabulary Force are incensed at remarks made on Tuesday by attorney-at-law and South West St Ann Member of Parliament (MP) Ernest Smith.
The MP had made stinging comments about the lawmen in Parliament, saying the force was "overrun" by gays.
Chairman of the Police Officers' Association (POA), Superintendent Michael James, told The Gleaner yesterday that since media reports surfaced about Smith's assertion, members of the institution have been infuriated.
According to James, the POA will meet with the leadership of the Police Federation today and a statement would be issued on the matter shortly thereafter.
He said a response would be made before the end of the week.
However, the force is not the only group angered by Smith's statement, as the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) says his comments in Parliament were a threat to democracy.
The group yesterday called on the Jamaica Labour Party and parliamentarians to examine the statement, acknowledge the danger contained within, and have Smith account for his "wanton and reckless behaviour" in the nation's Parliament.
Smith drew the wrath of the group when, during his contribution to the parlia-mentary debate on the sexual offences legislation, he expressed concern that "homosexuals in Jamaica have become so brazen, they've formed themselves into organisations".
The government MP also statedthat homosexuals were "abusive (and) violent" and called on the minister of national security to account for why so many of them were licensed firearm holders.
Smith also called for a tightening of the anti-buggery law. (Life Imprisonment)
"Homosexuals in Jamaica have the same rights as other citizens, including those to bear arms and to employment in the security forces," read a statement from J-FLAG yesterday.
"J-FLAG denounces Smith's statement as being not only an amazing display of backwardness and unmitigated bigotry, but also as anti-democratic and sinister."
Refusing to take the issue lightly, the group described Smith's presentation as a "diatribe" and offensive on several levels.
"First, he has made a sweeping statement about thousands of Jamaicans about whom he knows very little," said Jason McFarlane, programme manager for J-FLAG. "What evidence does he have to suggest that gays and lesbians as a group are more violent and abusive than other Jamaicans? This kind of stereotyping from a parliamentarian is inflammatory and highly irresponsible."
The group said it was concerned that in a climate characterised by extreme violence, Smith's statement could provide another justification for mobs to attack gays and lesbians on suspicion that they contribute to the country's high level of crime and violence.
Exposed to hostility
In the past, persons suspected to be homosexuals have been beaten, stoned and had their homes burnt.
"Mr Smith has also exposed the security forces to the spectre of public ridicule and hostility in a society where the slightest hint of homosexuality is a trigger for suspicion and scorn," McFarlane added. "This is stress that no member of security needs or deserves, particularly at this time."
According to McFarlane, his organisation also fears that Smith's unsubstantiated assertions about the number of gays in the armed forces might trigger a witch-hunt that could destabilise the security forces in general but the constabulary force in particular.
"This would be an extremely unfortunate situation, especially at a time when the police need to focus their energies on law enforcement in defence of the hundreds of victims and potential victims of crime."
Thursday, February 12, 2009
He said Pusey made the admission when he interviewed him on March 6, 2007, in the presence of duty counsel, Berry Bryan, who is now representing Pusey at his trial.
Superintendent Sutherland read the interview that was in the form of questions and answers to the jury yesterday in the Home Circuit Court.
Sheldon said in the interview that he went to King's house about a job. He said he was at King's house for about four hours when he told King he was hungry. King went downstairs and brought him something to eat. He said King later asked him if he were thirsty and brought him a bottle of liquor. He said after he drank the liquor he "just felt different".
"King said don't worry yourself just come over here so wid me," and Pusey said King was pointing towards a bedroom. He said while he was in the room, King had his hands all over him "and a try fi get in". He said he told King he was not into those things because he had his woman.
He said King had him on the bed and was trying to pull off his clothes and he tried reaching for something to hit King. Pusey said he managed to get a little knife that King had in a cup on the bedside table and "I began to stab and cut, stab and cut him."
He said King fell off the bed on to the floor and he covered him with a sheet. Pusey said he washed his hands at a pipe and then jumped over the balcony and a fence and went away.
The Crown is alleging that Pusey fatally stabbed and chopped King between March 19 and 20, 2006, at King's house at 11A Waterloo Road, Kingston 10.
Pusey has been on trial in the Home Circuit Court since January 19.
The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) is outraged by the
statement made by Member of Parliament for South West St Ann, Ernest Smith, in his
contribution to the parliamentary debate on the Sex Offenders Act on Wednesday,
February 11, 2009. In his statement, Mr. Smith expressed concern that “homosexuals in
Jamaica have become so brazen, they've formed themselves into organizations”. He also
claimed that ‘homosexuals’ were “abusive [and] violent” and called on the Minister of
National Security to account for why so many of them were licensed firearm holders. He
further claimed that the security forces have “been overrun by homosexuals”. To complete
his broadside, Mr. Smith called for a tightening of the anti-buggery law.
J-FLAG finds Mr. Smith’s statement offensive on several levels. First, he has made a
sweeping statement about thousands of Jamaicans about whom he knows very little. What
evidence does he have to suggest that gays and lesbians as a group are more violent and
abusive than other Jamaicans? This kind of stereotyping from a parliamentarian is
inflammatory and highly irresponsible. We are concerned that in a climate characterised by
extreme violence, Mr. Smith’s statement could provide another justification for mindless
mobs to attack gays and lesbians on suspicion that they contribute to the country's high
level of crime and violence. Mr. Smith has also exposed the security forces to the spectre
of public ridicule and hostility in a society where the slightest hint of homosexuality is a
trigger for suspicion and scorn. This is stress that no member of security needs or
deserves, particularly at this time.
What is even more dangerous in Mr. Smith’s statement is his beef with the formation of
specifically gay and lesbian associations. J-FLAG is indeed proud that despite the bigotry
and opposition it faces in Jamaica, its existence and legal operation for the past decade
are possible due to constitutional provisions that protect the rights to free association and
to hold views different from those of the majority. That Mr. Smith, a Member of Parliament
in this democratic society, would take issue with this fact sends a very dangerous message
about how committed some of our politicians are to protecting our rights. We believe Mr.
Smith’s pronouncement to be a threat to our democracy.
J-FLAG also fears that Mr. Smith’s unsubstantiated assertions about the number of gays in
the armed forces might trigger a witch hunt that could destabilise the security forces in
general but the constabulary force in particular. This would be an extremely unfortunate
situation, especially at a time when the police need to focus their energies on law
enforcement in defence of the hundreds of victims and potential victims of crime. Among
them are those whose families are brutally slain each year. In this context, J-FLAG is
baffled by Mr. Smith’s call for Parliament to place more of the state’s limited resources into
further criminalising acts between consenting adults; acts that have no victims.
Mr. Smith needs no reminder that despite his wish that punishment for buggery be more
severe, homosexuals in Jamaica have the same rights as other citizens, including those to
bear arms and to employment in the security forces. J-FLAG denounces his statement as
being not only an amazing display of backwardness and unmitigated bigotry but also as
anti-democratic and sinister. We urge Mr. Smith’s party as well as his fellow
parliamentarians to examine his statement, acknowledge the danger it contains, and call
him to account for what was populist but wanton and reckless behaviour in the nation’s
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
During Tuesday's Parliamentary debate on the Sex Offenders Act, the St. Ann M.P. described homosexuals as violent people who should not be allowed to carry licensed firearms.
"I am very concerned at the extent to which homosexual activities seem to have overtaken this country ... I am very concerned that homosexuals in Jamaica have become so brazen, they've formed themselves into organizations and are abusive, violent and something that the Ministry of National Security must look into is why is it that so many homosexuals are licensed firearm holders," said Mr. Smith.
The MP also claimed that based on reports he had seen, that there are too many homosexuals in the police force.
"There was a report recently which has never been challenged that our security forces, particularly the Jamaican Constabulary Force, have been overrun by homosexuals ... there was a front page report in one of our daily newspapers, which has never been challenged," said Mr. Smith.
Where is freedom of choice for gays and lesbians when they (the artists) pen and vocalise inciteful lyrics on us as gays who exercise our freedom of choice yet we are villified to the point of voilence, humiliation and even death.
Wow, strange when the tables are turned eh?.
Kartel plans...LEGAL FIGHT AGAINST BAN - Deejay to challenge Broadcasting Commission's decision
Krista Henry, Staff Reporter
Controversial deejay Vybz Kartel is spearheading a movement to challenge the Broadcasting Commission's recent ban placed on all daggering songs and songs that require bleeping.
The artiste is not only pleading with his fellow entertainers to unify against the ban implemented by the Broadcasting Commission, but he is also enlisted the assistance of his lawyer, Michael E. Deans, in an attempt to get a judicial review.
"Whether yuh seh 'Gaza' or 'Gully', you need to stand up against the commission. The artistes need to lobby for dancehall and reggae music and for people's freedom of choice," he said.
The deejay further said: "The ban is dangerous to the culture of the dancehall. Soon, the next step might be that we can't do social commentary songs, weed songs, songs about the inconsistency of government. I believe what they are doing is bordering on intellectual slavery and dictatorship with traces of communism."
When THE STAR spoke to Deans, he said he was looking into Kartel's legal options.
"Vybz Kartel is a very deep, introspective and intelligent person who is concerned about his freedom of speech and is outraged and rightfully so."
Kartel came under public scrutiny recently because of the content of his collaboration with Spice, Rampin' Shop. The song is said to be sexually explicit and has been publicly bashed by a number of persons, including a newspaper columnist.
Following these attacks the Broadcasting Commission announced its latest stance against 'daggering and bleeped songs' last Friday.
This move, however, is not one that Kartel will easily accept. "This (the ban) is not a stand against music but dancehall music, and in effect, ghetto people who are fighting for their livelihood. If you listen to the radio, all you're hearing is hip-hop music which 90 per cent are all edited versions of the original. It's a double standard if Candy Shop, Lollipop and I Kissed A Girl can be played so, too, can songs like Rampin' Shop, it's a straight double standard."
He called on the fans of dancehall music to call the Broadcasting Commission to lodge complaints against other forms of music with violent and sexual content in soca and hip hop. And if all this fails, "...we ask Jamaicans to boycott radio," he said.
Kartel is accepting petitions against the ban at email@example.com or they can be sent to the studio of the Portmore Empire at 14 Kirk Avenue, Havendale.
On June 23, 2008 a woman who was identified publicly as a lesbian by another woman was stabbed in Half Way Tree, St. Andrew at least 5 times leaving her with a collapsed lung.
She sustained a stab wound to the buttocks, 4 to her left side and was hospitalised for several days.
She is recouping at a friend's home.
When she tried to make a report after the incident took place the officers at the post were resistant and not interested as they claimed it was a lesbian matter and they weren't getting involved, only a verbal complaint was taken but no official report documented.
She has since thankfully migrated to Canada under the asylum route and is settling comfortably, she has also taken on her craft as a sketch artist producing various erotic pieces (as seen just above this update) and is hoping to formally get her work out and on sale to make a successful business out of it. She intends to start college as well in early September 2011 in the some art related fields as she has not made her mind up fully when last we spoke. Great closure to a case I was proud to have been involved in as well.
New York Congressman Jerrold Nadler is to reintroduce his Uniting American Families Act (UAFA).
It was co-sponsored by 118 of the 435 members of the House in its first introduction in May 2007.
The proposed law would allow gay, lesbian and bisexual US citizens or permanent residents to sponsor their permanent partner for immigration to the country, just as they can now sponsor such family members as siblings, children or husbands and wives.
At present US citizens with foreign lesbian or gay partners find that their relationship is considered non-existent under federal law.
The Defence of Marriage Act, passed in 1996, declared that for all purposes of the federal government, marriage would mean "only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife."
Since lesbian and gay couples are excluded from the definition of "spouse," US citizens receive no legal recognition of their same-sex partners for purposes of immigration.
The 2000 US Census estimated that in the United States there were almost 40,000 lesbian and gay couples in which one partner is a US citizen (or permanent resident), and the other a foreign national.
This figure does not include the thousands of binational couples who hide the fact they are partners, are forced to live apart, or who have been forced to leave the United States.
Advocacy group Immigration Equality told Metro Weekly:
"The Obama administration has been supportive.
"He did not co-sponsor the bill in the Senate, but he was very clear in the campaign that he supports the goals of this legislation."
Tuesday, February 10, 2009
The question was prompted by an initial rejection in Cyprus of a claim by a gay Iranian asylum seeker, a rejection which was later overturned and the claim granted.
The Commission has confirmed that there is "an obligation on Member States to grant refugee status to persons who…. are found to have a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of membership of a particular social group, including a group based on a common characteristic of sexual orientation."
The Commission was responding to a question from MEPs.
Sarah Ludford, who is Liberal Democrat European justice & human rights spokeswoman, said:
"I strongly welcome this robust statement by the Commission on the responsibility of Member States to uphold their international commitments to refugees and recognise persecution on all legitimate grounds including sexual orientation.
"Such persecution is very much a reality for gay and lesbian people from countries such as Iran.
"Iranians Mehdi Kazemi and Mr Bagherian were both eventually granted residence in the UK and Cyprus respectively but in both cases it was a struggle requiring a lot of lobbying.
"I hope that EU states will now heed the Commission and deal with future cases quickly and efficiently so that those who've been persecuted on the grounds of their sexuality can be spared further distress."
Gay activists in the UK have started a petition on the Downing St website calling on the Prime Minister "to stop deporting gays and lesbians to countries where they may be imprisoned, tortured or executed because of their sexuality."
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Thanks for your Donations
thank you for your donations via Paypal in helping to keep this blog going and related costs. Please continue to support me and my allies in this venure 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.
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
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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.
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Recent Homophobic Incidents
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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