Saturday, February 21, 2009
The Editor, Sir:
Usually crassness, bigotry and stupidity are qualities to be shunned, or at least hidden. Not so with Ernest Smith, who appears to make even more of a virtue of these qualities than already prevails in Jamaica. Ernest Smith, an attorney and member of parliament, has taken these qualities to stratospheric levels with his hysterical rants about outlawing J-FLAG, depriving gays of gun licences, and claims about homosexuality run amok in the Jamaican police force. Not too long ago, Smith enthusiastically promoted virginity tests for high-school girls as a condition for readmission at the start of a school year.
In democracies that are governed by reason, one could comfortably dismiss Smith's recent ravings as simply nothing more than the harmless fantasies of a lunatic fringe.
Unfit for his cabinet
Not so in Jamaica, given Smith's prominence in a country that is, for the most part, virulently and proudly homophobic. In this respect, Prime Minister Golding himself proclaimed gays to be unfit for inclusion in his cabinet, and his government has seen fit to ban school- books that make references to gay family units. At the behest of Jamaica's religious right, both political parties have allowed themselves to be corralled into abandoning a proposed gender-neutral definition of rape for fear that this would facilitate the decriminalisation of buggery.
It is instructive that neither poli- tical party has denounced Smith in unambiguous terms. The same appears to be true of the legal profession of which Smith is a member.
The democracy called Jamaica remains wedded to a culture that is largely bereft of critical thinking, much less justice for all its citizens. In this context, Smith has not only a public platform, but a cultural licence to exhibit and indeed, to further infect the body politic with his particular strain of ignorance, stupidity and bigotry. For most of Jamaica's citizens, this might warrant little more than a verandah chat; for others, unfortunately, it might mean the difference between life and death.
I am, etc.,
O. HILAIRE SOBERS
Thursday, February 19, 2009
25-year-old Sheldon Pusey, who has been on trial since January 19 in the Home Circuit Court said in his defence last week that he went to King's house on March 19, 2006. King was forcing him to be intimate with him when he took a knife from a cup on a bedside table and stabbed him. Pusey said he was not a homosexual.
Dr Marc White, who was being examined yesterday by defence lawyer Berry Bryan, said that he could not recall whether it was in 2006 or 2007 that he examined Pusey at the Half Way Tree police Station lock-up. He said the purpose of his examination was to look for signs or any evidence of anal penetration. He said the perirectal (area near the rectum) area showed no signs of scarring or any signs of bruising .
He said at the time of his examination there were no signs of recent anal penetration and there were no scars or bruises. He said the anus was not a natural orifice for sexual contact and, therefore,, any forced penetration of the anus would leave either scarring or bruising.
"If a person engages in anal sex and was lubricated would you expect to see bruising?" prosecutor Caroline Hay asked the doctor during cross-examination.
"That is not a yes or no answer," the doctor replied.
He explained that the area had to be relaxed to allow penetration, and if the area was not relaxed then several attempts would have to be made for penetration to take place. He said medically it was impossible to tell that someone was not homosexual because that was a state of mind. "You cannot tell if someone is gay or not, " the doctor added.
Nothing is wrong with making love to someone of the same sex, and moreover, you don't have any control over who you fall in love with. So, pastor, I don't see any sense in you recommending persons who are gay or bisexual to seek counselling. I am a Christian because I believe in Christ. I believe that Christ wants me to be honest with myself and fall in love with who I want to. I have a real problem when Christians misuse of the Bible.
Pastor, you should be commending gay persons for their honesty because I know of several married men who are dating guys. They are the ones you need to counsel. They need to be told to be truthful to themselves and to the women they are fooling.
I don't have any problem being gay; I have a problem with those persons who are condemning gays yet they are secretly doing the same thing.
W.S., Toronto, Canada
Evidently you are reacting to something I have written in response to a letter someone wrote to me about homosexuality. In fact, you are probably upset because I do not support nor sanction homosexuality in any form. Nevertheless, no one can truthfully say or prove that I have condemned people who are homosexuals. I don't condemn anybody. That is not my job and it is not my approach in counselling. There are those, however, who believe that because I quote the Scriptures to prove that homosexuality is wrong, that I am condemning those who practise that form of lifestyle.
I make no apology for saying that it is abominable and immoral for a man to make love to another man; it is also abominable for two women to make love to each other. You don't think so and that is your position. You can say what you want to say and do what you want to do, but you cannot prove that I am not speaking the truth when I say that homosexual behaviour is condemned by Almighty God. And the majority of the people who have written to me do so because they feel convicted and are seeking help.
There are some people who, indeed, misuse the Bible, but I can assure you that on this matter of homosexuality, if any Christian says that it is wrong, he or she is, indeed, standing on the authority of God. Nowhere in the Bible is homosexuality accepted, encouraged or sanctioned. There is not even one verse that anyone can show or quote from the Bible in which Almighty God or any one of His disciples sanctioned this sort of lifestyle.
Anyone who condemns homosexuality but secretly practises it will be judged by God, whether that person is a Christian or a non-Christian. You are very angry. You are looking for an excuse for the life you live. It is my duty to pray for you and to ask God to cause you to experience a spiritual deliverance. If you were to experience the mighty working of the Holy Spirit in your life, you would come to realise that your lifestyle is not good and what you are doing is contrary to nature. And God says when anyone refuses to do what is right, and to believe in Him, He gives up that person to a reprobate mind.
Let me put it straight to you; these words are from the Bible: "For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections (degrading passions), for even their women did change the natural use into which is against nature: And likewise, also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burnt in their lust one toward another; men with men, working that which is unseemly and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet." (Romans 1: 26-27).
I am not condemning, I am only quoting the Bible. And I believe the Bible.
Support tolerance, not hate! It is almost insane to read some of the articles published in the Jamaican media, where the word "homosexuality" seems to send some people into a fit of endless rage. Your reader, Stewart Young, published his comments in both major papers, triggered by the recent anti-gay comments made in Parliament by MP for SW St Ann, Ernest Smith.
Mr Young, ironically, lives in a First-World country (USA), where the cornerstone of democracy is based on human rights. Why enjoy all this, and then turn around and denounce the rights of others in Jamaica? Why would anyone consume themselves in such hate and anger, when life has so much more to offer? Is it just insecurity, or more so a lack of proper education?
I advise Mr Young to reflect seriously on his arguments. There are good and bad people in every race, every background, even sexuality! For every rich (gay) man "luring" boys with their wealth, you bet there are ten times more rich (straight) men luring girls!
As for MP Smith, I've never heard such ignorance reported in Jamaican papers in a very long time. Sometimes it's best to remain quiet, if one has nothing of substance to contribute. OK, so you dislike gays, fine, that's your personal choice, but why would you take this to Parliament? Does the MP even realise that these were the same type of arguments that sanctioned slavery against a race?
One would assume that for the most part elected officials are educated, yet no one dared to challenge Mr Smith. It's a sad day for Jamaica when MPs like Mr Smith are allowed to "wallow' in this type of ignorance! In other countries the MP would've had to resign. I firmly believe that the development of any country must start with the development of the mind.
History has shown that intolerance and hate feed into crime, resulting into fewer opportunites for development. When one can equate one's sexuality with domestic violence, other crimes or even the right to hold a licensed firearm, I have to say this is beyond bizarre. It is downright ignorant, and narrow-minded. Such is the typical mind, steeped in bigotry and hate!
- Meanwhile here is the Gleaner article on the PNP's statement on MP Smith's comments
- PNP lashes Ernie Smith on stance against gays
To be a member of parliament and thus an elected official is not a position to be trivialised or taken for granted. It is a privilege that carries serious responsibilities by the one so elected. Election to the JamaicanParliament carries no less a responsibility for those who are privileged to make far-reaching decisions that will affect the lives of all Jamaicans.
It is in this regard that the recent diatribe against the homosexual community by Mr Ernest Smith, the MP for South West St Ann, is to be seen. Mr Smith is not a newcomer to Parliament, and even if he were a newcomer his rant against that community would be hardly forgivable. By his own words, Mr Smith expressed alarm at the growing influence of that community, their legitimacy to hold firearms and that the Jamaica Constabulary Force, from what he saw in a newspaper, is "overrun" by homosexuals.
As a lawyer, Mr Smith knows that these views so irresponsibly stated with reckless disregard for the facts, could not be spoken outside of the protective confines of Parliament. As a lawyer, he should have more than a visceral concern for truth and not allow his professional ethics to be sullied by what appear to be statements that he obviously has not investigated and on whose authority truth is emasculated.
He knows that the privilege he enjoys as a parliamentarian can allow him and others to speak all kinds of foolishness without any fear of being hauled before the courts. Indeed, the Parliament of Jamaica has been used and abused by parliamentarians to vent their personal hatred and impugn the reputation of individuals and institutions with which they have a personal peeve. Parliament is no longer seen as a medium for intelligent discourse about the nation's business.
What should be robust and vigorous debate often descends into juvenile heckling and infantile bluster. It has become a place of entertainment, but the laugh really is on the people of Jamaica.
In a homophobic society as Jamaica, Mr Smith's rant can serve to reinforce the hatred that many Jamaicans express toward this community. In fact, in some jurisdictions, his rant would be interpreted as hate speech punishable by law. But then again, Mr Smith knows that his statements in Parliament are protected by parliamentary privilege. It is time that this policy is re-examined, for no one should easily sully the reputation of any individual or institution in Jamaica and not face prosecution by the laws of the land.
Whatever one may think of homosexuals (and let me fairly disclose that I am not one and have never had any inclinations to be one), the rights of a Jamaican citizen to bear firearms, to freely assemble and form organisations should not be predicated on his or her sexual preferences.
The ability to protect oneself and property is a constitutional guarantee that should be open to any Jamaican, however "straight" or "bent" he or she may be. On sober reflection, Mr Smith may want to reconsider his position. He has given a lame apology to the police force for obvious reasons. He must now go on and do the decent thing and apologise to the homosexual community and the people of Jamaica, not only for the content of his speech but also for lowering the barof intelligent debate in the people's Parliament. But who is holding his breath on this?
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
They lambasted the MP saying that he lacks the evidence to state the police force is overrun by gays, it called on all political leaders to refrain from excesses of language or extreme positions that may insight violence or discriminatory conduct against any minority group in Jamaica, the opposition also said this is particularly important to the homosexual community given the deep seated cultural aversion to homosexuality in Jamaica.
The physical safety and broader human rights of these citizens should not be undermined by gratuitous political grandstanding on the issue, it notes Mr. Smith's intransigence has now extended to a crusade calling for the outlawing of the association formed to promote the human rights of the homosexual community in Jamaica, JFLAG.
The PNP said it is calling on the government to state publicly that it rejects Mr. Smith's series of pronouncements, coming from a government MP, his unbalanced comments can only damage Jamaica's international reputation for respecting the human rights of all citizens.
Schifrah whoever and wherever you are, you are on the ball, thanks for your participation as activism and vigilance like this we need more. Peace
The Response from Schifrah
Let me respond to this letter point by point.
1. What could be more cowardly than Mr. Smith using his "parliamentary privilege" to protect himself from libel (as pointed out by LLoyd B. Smith ) JCF of being over-run by homosexuals. Needless to say he has no evidence to back his claim but a spurious sensationalized "news" story . Mr Smith is no better than the white southern racist who had the weight of the Jim Crow laws behind him in the Southern US so he could stand in the street and shout " Nigger" at every passing person of colour. Those Jim Crow laws were not justifiable and neither are the sodomy laws.
2. Buggery is against the law ...I believe that the correct term is sodomy. This does not in essence address homosexuality which is NOT against the law.In fact the dear writer might be interested to know that for many heterosexual couples, anal sex is a normal part of sex play, as is oral sex. Are we going to lock up (lets conservatively say) even 20% of our straight and gay population for consensual sodomy...or are we going to honestly address issues of sex and sexuality in the hope of saving another generation from the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Given that in this region that heterosexual transmission accounts for over 80% of the new HIV cases I think that the dialogue is urgently needed.
3. I am a Jamaican contrary to the implication otherwise, and I live here. The "crude and nasty e-mail" forwarded to you was only "crude and nasty" in that it quoted the lyrics of Jamaican dancehall songs, in the hope that you would take the piece of lumber out your own eye before picking on a speck. Furthermore the lyrics quoted in the specific piece were misogynistic hardly homophobic.
4. What I do in my bedroom is none of your business. I don't ask what you do in yours? Frankly I'm not interested. Our sexual orientation (yours or mine) should not be anyones business. I do know that my partner is adult and we are involved in a loving relationship. We do not harm children and we are responsible tax paying citizens who are entitled to the same rights and privileges as any other human being.
5. How is espousing tolerance, acceptance and human rights lowering ones standards? The thin veneer of moral superiority that Ms. Foote and Mr E. Smith have adopted, is simply that of individuals who need to find scapegoats to blame for the ills in the society over which they have no control. We see this being done in Rwanda, where the Hutu Government blamed the Tutsi minority for the evils in the society. This led to the massacre of over 800,000 Tutsis. The Nazis did the same in Germany...over 6 million Jews, gypsies, and homosexuals were murdered.
Instead of finding scapegoats we should be addressing the real problems in Jamaica: crime; the lack of self esteem among our young men who afraid of being called "gay" don't do well at school, and continue to underachieve all because they must fit in to rigid gender roles; the present economic crises, the continued abuse of our children...those are the real problems.
What consenting adults John and Jim or Jane and Jill do in their bedroom at night(or day) is not a socio political or moral issue.
"Blakka" Ellis, this a popular piece so we decided to repost it, it's one of those instances where someone takes a good look at ourselves without prejudice just straight facts and reasoning.
Some Jamaican brethren love to run off mouth about how dem love woman and brag 'bout dem nuh pet man. Yes, big man, start counting the number of activities that you participate in, exclusively with other 'man friends'. Calculate the amount of time you spend with members of your own sex.
Now, compare that with your quality engagement and time spent with the opposite sex. I'll bet all the money I lost in Cash Plus that when the situations are objectively compared, many men will find that they spend more time and energy dedicated to activities with other men than with women. Isn't that funny? But, as I'm never tired of saying, we are a case study in contradiction. Is true, man! Many Jamaican men seem to be violently homophobic, yet passionately 'homosocial' at the same time. Check it, dem burn fire on men who sleep with men but di only company dat dem keep is men.
Some roughneck, macho men seem totally happy to spend 20 hours of one day socialising with a bag a man and then share the remaining four hours with a woman. And, those four hours are likely to involve maybe 15 minutes of talk, 45 minutes of sex and three hours of sleep. In fact, one man made it clear to me that, as far as he's concerned, the main thing to do with the opposite sex was sex.
When asked if he talks or plays with his lady, he said he hardly talks, he mainly sends text messages. Quoting an old joke, he said the only game he plays with his girlfriend is strip poker, with the aim being for her to strip and for him to 'poke her'. He went on to seriously assert that men, who spend a lot of time with women, are sissies. What do you think?
I think it's kind of sad. Plenty men just don't treat social, emotional or intellectual engagement with women as a central part of their life. It's like they marginalise their dealings with women to the extent that any relationship with a woman that doesn't involve sex, gets minimal time, limited space and zero value. And, the women, with whom we share conjugal relations, sometimes only get personal attention when it's time for them to ease our sexual tension.
You know, there are men, who have no genuine women friends? You realise that there are men out there, who can only see women as objects of potential conquest? And, some of those same men love and idolise other men, who they describe as their 'God, dads and general'!
Some men work all day with men, spend evening chilling and talking with other men, then spend the weekend playing with men again. They eat and drink with men, 'par and link' with men, then smoke and joke with men again. That's how I see it yah and I don't care who vex. Some men do every single thing with other men - except sex - and the one deggeh-deggeh thing dem do with women is sex.
But, guess what happen in the process? We miss out on opportunities to learn, grow and build mutual respect with our sisters. Look nuh, I love sex, I adore women and I value the many things I can share with them. Yeah, man, that's one of the reasons why I'm a big fan of co-education. If it does nothing else, mixed-sex schooling helps boys to learn, from early, that there are many fulfilling experiences to share with girls, including, but not limited to sex!
In responding to Member of Parliament Ernest Smith, J-FLAG noted that Section 23 (1) of the Jamaican Constitution states: "No person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of peaceful assembly and association, that is to say, his right peacefully to assemble freely and associate with other persons and in particular to form or belong to trade unions or other associations for the protection of his interests."
My comments from the above: Mr Smith, in the public interest, should seek a declaration from the courts on the legality of J-Flag and its activities. Just raising it is not good enough - he should take action!
I am, etc.,
This letter to the editor in today's Gleaner 18.02.09 seeks to attempt to smear our name, below find the letter,original post (Feb 5, 2009) and response to the previous letter alluded to and judge for yourself. The writer says too many cowards but conveniently left out the email contact this time around. Coward eh?
"Too many cowards in Jamaica"
The Editor, Sir:
The one thing Jamaica has one too many of these days, is cowards. I applaud MP Ernest Smith for not being one and for commenting on something that I have wondered about myself for some time now. Buggery is against the law and yet we have people who have publicly, by their own admission, via their association (JFLAG), announced that they practice it. Imagine, publicly announcing that you have committed and will continue to commit crimes and you are not behind bars? Where is the law?
Crude and nasty email
Subsequent to my letter asking a radio station to keep lewd music off the airwaves, JFLAG forwarded a rather crude and nasty email to me, ostensibly from one of their bloggers. In fact, others of similar ilk who wrote to me (primarily foreigners who were apparently homosexual themselves), had nothing to offer but expletives and who sought to 'chide' me (I'm understating a bit) for things that I did not say.
For instance, they all did suggest that I espoused music that promoted violence against them - which I do not. I was encouraged, though, that there were many well-thinking and sane Jamaicans who responded, who were not lowering their standards at all.
I am, etc.,
See the Original post:Katy Perry Song complaint from a letter to the Gleaner
(the reposnse was also published)
True! better that your daughter listen to "traditional" Jamaican lyrics that promote violence and misogyny:
example 1...Girl ah wanna push on you wit dis ting protruding, youre acting kinda shy, still i will be intruding... (Sizzla)
Example 2....Cock up yuh bumpa a likkle moreCock it up mek mi slam it like a door(Put yuh hands on di floor!!!)Yuh hear mi love it when mi talk to herSplit and spread out like manure ...(Elephant Man)
Example 3. "Oh! Rub up di fat piece a somethin on my willy Long time she tell mi seh she waan mi fi filly " (Capleton)
Um... can someone explain to me why the Kate Perry lyrics are somehow more offensive than these? Nuff said!
I FIND IT really disgusting that a member of parliament in today's world could make such comments about J-FLAG. He should be made to apologise to the Jamaican people for his bigoted views.
A member of parliament should speak for the Jamaican People - gay or straight, black and white - no matter what, he should not condemn anyone.
Because of outdated laws, we Jamaicans are known around the world for our violent behaviour and our intolerance. It is about time our leaders showed the world that Jamaicans are not just a proud people, but as well tolerant and peaceful
We are not just mind-blowing thugs with hate for others who are different from us. I believe there may come a time when Jamaica will be respected around the world, not just for its comedy and Bob Marley, but for its motto 'Out of many, one people'.
I am, etc.,
Luton , Bedfordshire
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
The story has been told about a certain member of parliament who dreamt that he was addressing his colleagues in the House only to wake up and find out that he was! Was North West St Ann MP Ernest (Ernie) Smith dreaming when he spoke in Gordon House recently, or was he for real when he addressed the issue of homosexuality?
Needless to say that his often vituperative, sometimes thought-provoking, but for the most part outlandish utterances have created an intellectual nightmare for those of us who embrace fair play and basic common sense.
Using the protective cloak of parliamentary privilege, the learned gentleman lambasted "gays", describing them as being violence-prone and should therefore not be allowed to have licensed firearms. And as if this was not enough, this esteemed lawmaker (because that is what each parliamentarian is) then went on to intimate that the Jamaica Constabulary Force was being overrun by homosexuals. In essence, a "straight" lawmaker versus "bent" law enforcers?
A soap opera in the making indeed! Mr Smith further went on to add more fuel to his already inflammatory speech by saying that because a Gleaner story purporting this to be so was not denied publicly by the JCF, then it may well be so.
SMITH... needs to rewind and come again
The eminent and astute attorney-at-law that he is, Mr Smith well knows that if he had made such a statement outside of Gordon House, he could have faced a libel suit of tremendous proportions, whether from individual members of the police force or collectively. His seeming attack may well be deemed by many as an act of cowardice. And what about the legal tenet which deals with the presumption of innocence? Why should we assume that the majority of policemen and policewomen in the JCF are homosexuals without the evidence to corroborate such a claim?
In any event, homosexuality is not a crime in Jamaica; it is buggery, the act of two persons, usually men, having anal intercourse. An archaic law which most enlightened countries have expunged from their law books. One is not aware that every police station in Jamaica is a "romping shop" of whatever kind and from my own observation, the JCF comprises many decent, Christian, morally upright men and women who have sworn to uphold the laws of the land. You see, the word homosexuality is a generic term although most people tend to think that a homosexual is automatically of the male species. And this is a very important point to make because part and parcel of the homophobic mentality in Jamaica is that lesbians are usually more tolerated than male homosexuals. In fact, many so-called heterosexual men get very turned on watching lesbian women "romping around".
And there's the rub (no pun intended)!
My question to Mr Smith and those who support his misguided posture is: How does he propose to rid the society of homosexuals, whether those in the force or otherwise? Years ago when the United States Army was faced with a similar predicament under then President Bill Clinton, a "don't ask, don't tell" policy was developed. Who in their right mind in Jamaica would willingly admit that he or she is gay?
And how does one identify a homosexual? This is risky business because even when two men are caught in the act, this does not automatically mean they are both gay. After all, it is well known that some straight men do go to bed with a homosexual counterpart for money, a job or other favours.
Contrary to the popular perception, not all homosexuals are effeminate or prissy. Some of the most macho men in our society behind closed doors are quite comfortable being on the 'down low'. On the other hand, not all men who behave or look like women are homosexuals. Some years ago, I had to counsel a male student of a prominent high school who had been ostracised, ridiculed, neglected and vilified by his father (a policeman) because he acted and spoke like a girl.
The young man was adamant that he was not gay but because he had grown up with his single mom who saw him as the apple of her eye he had somehow developed these traits. Today, that young man, thanks to my counselling and his strength of character, has graduated from university, is working and is happily leading a heterosexual lifestyle.
Unfortunately, he has not been able to forgive his father for the way he was treated by him, so they are yet to be reconciled.
Against this background, Mr Smith should have been more responsible in his remarks, lest he become, whether wittingly or unwittingly, an advocate for gay-bashing or even worse, the eradication and persecution of such people in the society, because innocent lives could forever be damaged or lost. Would he want that on his conscience? And what if someone who was so treated came to him for legal assistance, would he refuse to handle the case? In other words, in the same way a person who is deemed to be homosexual should not be given a firearm licence, should that person also be denied legal representation, assuming that no Jamaican lawyer is homosexual?
On a lighter note, perhaps the wily Mr Smith is hoping to get into a Bruce Golding reshuffled Cabinet by the back door?
After all, the Jamaica Labour Party leader had stated vehemently when asked during a BBC interview about accommodating gays in his administration: "Not in my Cabinet!" Mr Smith's unrelenting stance on the issue of homosexuality should therefore put him in good stead with Mr Golding, thus making him a most suitable candidate for the post of minister of national security! By the way, is Mr Smith aware that some, if not all European countries are averse to approving loans to other countries which openly persecute or discriminate against people of varying sexual preferences, particularly homosexuals? It is in the fine print!
The bottom line is that we need to create a kinder, gentler and more tolerant society. Homosexuals ought not to flaunt their wares, so to speak, on John Public, but the fact that a person is thus sexually challenged should not mean that he or she is less of a human being. Not all homosexual men prey on young boys, and there are latent homosexuals who never get involved with men as well as some gays who do not engage in buggery. If one is to go by Mr Smith's theory, though, then we would have to adopt the Animal Farm philosophy that all men are created equal but some are more equal than others. Is this in line with the JLP espoused tenet of equal rights and justice for all?
It has been said that it is better to keep one's mouth shut and be deemed misguided than to open it and remove all doubt. Mr Smith needs to rewind and come again. In the meantime, all well-thinking citizens should say to our good friend, "Moutamassi Ernie, kibba yuh mout!"
It is ridiculous how much time the Jamaican society spends debating the gay issue when there are so many others in the society and the Church, as a whole, to be addressed.
Why are the churches shunning them? Are they not entitled to hear the word of God? If so, why aren't the adulterers, liars and thieves thrown out? We know there are many of these types of people in the Church who go every week and pretend to be Christians only to go home and continue their sinful behaviour.
The church has no right to try and force change on anyone. It won't work. If a person desires change and looks to God for it and believes God is powerful enough to grant his or her desire, it will happen. No pastor can counsel it to happen; the individual must come to that decision himself or herself.
Reconditioning not simple
I do not feel you can 'recondition' gay people. I'd like to ask these so-called Christians if they would be able to just switch their heterosexual desires to homosexual ones if counselled enough to do so? To believe that homosexuality is a choice is ludicrous. Why would someone choose to be a target for violence in such a homophobic society, to be shunned from churches, disowned by family, lose jobs and lose friends?
God preached compassion towards all sinners. All the people trying to keep gays out of the Church because they believe it is sinful should be pushed out the Church themselves. Since everyone is a sinner, the churches should be empty.
People do not have to accept homosexuality but everyone has the right to live and choose to live how he or she wants, especially if they are not bringing harm to others.
I am, etc.,
Smith told The Gleaner yesterday that the group's continued existence, which he argued was illegal, could lead to other persons forming similar illegal organisations, such as paedophiles and ganja smokers' associations.
"They should be outlawed! How can you legitimise an organisation that is formed for the purpose of committing criminal offences?" Smith declared.
J-FLAG was founded in December 1998 to provide a voice and community for sex minorities. Last week, Smith, a government backbencher, called on the director of public prosecutions (DPP) to instruct the police to investigate J-FLAG, with a view to having its members criminally charged.
However, DPP Paula Llewellyn has said she was not going to comment on Smith's request.
Protection of interests
In responding to Smith last night, J-FLAG noted that Section 23 (1) of the Jamaican Constitution states: "No person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of peaceful assembly and association, that is to say, his right peacefully to assemble freely and associate with other persons and in particular to form or belong to trade unions or other associations for the protection of his interests."
The group said: "J-FLAG has been able to operate successfully under this provision in the legislation for the past 10 years. J-FLAG agitates for legal and social change and we believe that there is always provision for any group to agitate for laws to be changed."
Since his statement in Parliament last Tuesday, Smith has been lambasted by sections of the society for making undemocratic utterances. However, the MP, who is also an attorney-at-law, was unrepentant.
"A lot of people, for their own selfish underhanded purposes, seek to misconstrue the principles of democracy," he said.
"Democracy, with all its freedoms, is not a licence for persons to encourage criminality or otherwise conspire to corrupt public morals."
In his presentation to Parliament last week, Smith argued that the proper sentence for buggery should be life imprisonment, as in the case of grievous sexual assault.
Smith has, however, apologised for controversial comments he made about the police force during the same presentation in Gordon House last week. At that time, he described the police force as "overrun" by homosexuals.
The Jamaica Labour Party, in a statement issued on the weekend, distanced itself from Smith's comments and urged the police not to be "distracted by (Smith's) unfortunate remarks".
Monday, February 16, 2009
How feasible do you think it is to have a possible Gay/Str8 alliance to include families and supportive friends of ours???
Answer by a straight Jamaican male student living in the US
I'd say it's pretty necessary. One more voice heard is one extra bit of pressure for change, and for society to take a good look at itself and see that plenty of heteros can and do support and lifestyle choices that are different from their own, other at the very least the rights of others.
Support or lack thereof for LGBT persons is a fickle subject, we have seen many a case where families have outrightly rejected their own and even one case several years ago where a father gave his son up to a bunch of students at his school to be beaten because he found out he was gay, fortunately he was rescued by janitorial staff at the school who themselves endured blows to save him from the mob.
We have had a report only last week that a 19 year old male was outed in his community by a friend and his mother and siblings demanded he leave the home with immediate effect.
- How can we form alliances with straight friends and family members without putting them at personal danger and risk in our hostile climate?
- How can we get tolerance levels with close friends up and functional to every one's benefit.
- How can we enlist more participation from this group in LGBT rights and tolerance issues?
Howie seh so
It's appalling to see a minister of government and attorney-at-law so fixated on homosexuals, and so certain, that he makes not only ludicrous, but unintelligent accusations at the Jamaica Constabulary Force and gay people. He also proved that he is unsuitable to hold his office as a minister of government. In truth, I hope he speaks only for his own personal lack of sensibility, and not as a minister of government using his own prejudices to seek public support.
Indeed, Jamaicans don't live in a theocracy - yet. It's none of Smith's business what sexual shenanigans anybody gets up to in their private lives as long as this doesn't hurt anyone else. The root cause of the anti-homosexual agitators is simple personal distaste. And personal distaste is not of itself a good reason for making anything illegal.
There is something pathetic about people who pore over history books or legislation seeking support for their prejudices. Doesn't Smith have anything better to do, like getting the roads in St Ann fixed? Helping to create better opportunities for people in his constituency? Proposing measures to lower the murder rate?
Times and customs
After all, the legislations of 3,000 years ago are not always justifiable today in the civilised world. All ancient holy books (including the Old Testament) report the ancient gods or God's approval of slavery, rape, racism, sexism and mass slaughter. But times and customs have changed.
It is evident by Smith's utterance, that he rejects civilised standards of tolerance, and wants discrimination to be allowed as long as it's justifiable. Indeed, two generations ago discrimination against blacks was justifiable in the United States, South Africa, and half the nations of Europe.
The ruling classes decreed that it was not natural for blacks and whites to eat together, sleep together or sit next to each other on the buses. The governments of those places despised blacks, gays, liberals and outside agitators. Today the Governments have changed; but many of their people haven't changed their prejudices - and have even added some to the list.
As racism was eroded other prejudices slipped into its place. Prejudice is as prejudice does. This discrimination that Ernest Smith would want to see perpetuated is a very risky enterprise because it confirms Jamaica's steady retreat from the Articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights specifically forbidding discrimination against minority groups, either explicitly or implicitly.
I am, etc.,
Good sense, or the display of it, is not a prerequisite for democratic participation. And, nor are illogical or crass and vulgar display of stupidity automatic grounds for expulsion from the Jamaican legislature.
Which, perhaps, is good news for the member of Parliament for South West St Ann, Ernest Smith, who, away from intellectually sterile episodes in the House of Parliament, makes his living as a defence attorney. His profession, as a lawyer, is predicated on concepts of fairness and the protection of the rights of individuals against the overreaching arm of the State, such as the time when Mr Smith's law offices were raided by agents of the State and documents confiscated, in clear breach of client-lawyer privilege.
Mr Smith, apparently, does not think, or if he does, not with any depth, of his role as a legislator or the relationship between his job as an MP or the space he occupies in the judicial process. Nor do we sense that he is particularly engaged with expansive issues of human rights, the relationship and balance between the State and the individual and, in the broader sense, the expansion of people's rights and freedoms.
So, one day last week, Mr Smith used his platform in the House to spout puny ideas, bordering on xenophobia and a call to hate against a group of people whose lifestyles he disapproves of - gays. And his comments, taken to their logical conclusion, would see some people deprived of fundamental constitutional rights and protections.
Section 23 (1) of the Jamaican Constitution affords all citizens the right of "freedom of peaceful assembly and association", which includes the right to peacefully "associate with other persons and, in particular, to form or belong to trade unions or OTHER associations for the protection of their interests". But Mr Smith, the politician and lawyer, complained that homosexuals had become "so brazen they have formed themselves into organisations".
He claimed Jamaican gays to be "abusive and violent" and appeared to conclude that too high a proportion of homosexuals were holders of licensed firearms - he did not say what test he used for this finding. For good measure, he harrumphed about too many gays being in the police force.
Notwithstanding a late-evening apology to the police force last Friday, Mr Smith's abuse of parliamentary privilege to deliver his homophobic diatribe was nothing short of a cheap attempt at trading on prevailing public sentiment to shore up his political stocks rather than providing leadership. It was reminiscent of Prime Minister Bruce Golding's "not in my Cabinet" comment during that infamous BBC television interview.
Perhaps unwittingly, such statements give legitimacy to extreme behaviour, including violence against gays.
The Ernest Smiths of this world notwithstanding, it is time for a more sensible approach in Jamaica. Rather than being defensive about the MP's allegation, the Police Officers' Association might have blasted him for fostering hate. Maybe other MPs might find the gall to propose an end to current laws that encourage voyeurism by agents of the State. There should perhaps also be a motion to censure Mr Smith. Of course, the real surprise would be to find any among his colleagues with the courage to take such a step.
The opinions on this page, except for the above, do not necessarily reflect the views of The Gleaner. To respond to a Gleaner editorial, email them: firstname.lastname@example.org or fax: 922-6223. Responses should be no longer than 400 words. Not all responses will be published.
by Nadisha Hunter, Gleaner Writer
Church leaders have failed to adequately counsel and interface with homosexuals in their congregations because they fear unpopularity could trigger a membership exodus, gays have claimed.
Marcus Bryan, a member of Sunshine Cathedral Jamaica, a church formed for homosexuals, charged that most clerics were wary of guilt by association and, therefore, refrained from seriously addressing the issue.
"There are ministers who offer one-on-one counselling and other support, but will have to be careful, as it will result in fallout in their congregations," Bryan told The Gleaner.
He said ministers who were prepared to deal with the situation were only aiming to change their sexual orientation.
Bryan is a former Roman Catholic but left that denomination because of the church's doctrinal opposition to homosexuality.
"I couldn't stay at the church because all they do is pray for changes in me and I didn't want to worship in a place where I have to leave my sexuality outside.
"I love my sexuality and it plays a significant part of my life," he stated.
The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG), the island's main sex-minority lobby, said the organisation has been concerned about the treatment of homosexuals by local churches.
"Our clients have over the years expressed their discomfort with many religious institutions which have and continue to make worshipping in that church uncomfortable, as they preach hatred towards gays and lesbians from the pulpit," said Jason McFarlane, J-FLAG's programmes manager.
Fearful of being labelled
He also claimed that clergy who were compassionate towards the gay and lesbian community have often been prevented from offering support because they were fearful of being labelled as homosexuals.
Prominent church leaders from various denominational groupings have called the gays' claims disingenuous.
The Rev Peter Garth of Hope Gospel Assembly has rebuked the gay community, saying that part of the resistance to sex minorities was based on their open promotion of homosexuality and active recruitment of children.
"These persons don't keep this to themselves, they flaunt their behaviour and set to put their lifestyle to others," said Garth. "Even when you send your children to school, they are at risk because these persons will try to address them."
He also argues that homosexuality was not natural, saying, "There is no such thing as gay genes and nobody was born attracted to the same sex," he claimed.
Bishop Delford Davis, head of Power of Faith Ministries, acknowledged that homosexuals faced the possibility of ostracism by fellow congregants. He urged understanding that the same levels of stigmatisation which dogged society existed in the Church.
"It takes a lot of courage to reveal to the public who you are, based on narrow-minded persons in society. It's the same in the Church, there are mature and immature Christians, so they are not motivated," stated Davis.
The bishop said the Church had a policy to refer homosexuals to counsellors to address issues.
Karl Johnson, president of Jamaica Council of Churches, said homosexuality was an emerging concern in the modern church which denominations would have to face head-on.
"No church representative can say they don't have the issue, it was always part of society but has become more rampant in modern society," Johnson told The Gleaner.
No one is perfect
"We try to diffuse any activities which will make the person feel less of a human being. Moreover, if this person shows changes, things will go back to normality, as no one is perfect," said Johnson, who is also general secretary of the Jamaica Baptist Union.
The Rev Al Miller, pastor of Fellowship Tabernacle, said homosexuality was inconsistent with fundamentalist biblical values. He said his church was involved in restorative therapy to alter their sexual urges.
"We try to redeem persons and restore them by establishing a personal relationship with them and God so they can overcome soon," he said.
"A number of homosexuals recover, as the power of redemptive work can break free any barrier. It's a reality and though it's contrary to the word of God, persons have to accept it and deal with it," he said.
Sunday, February 15, 2009
And, in another surprising but welcome development for the Government, one of the country's most ardent anti-establishment radicals and Black Power nationalists, Rastafarian poet and celebrity, Mutabaruka, has emerged as the most ardent advocate of harsh measures against vulgarity and gun lyrics in our music.
For years when I waged a lonely struggle against slackness and violence in dancehall music while being publicly traced and abused by people like Ninja Man and Bounty Killer; and being sharply criticised by University of the West Indies (UWI) academics, Professor Carolyn Cooper, Dr Kingsley 'Ragashanti' Stewart and Dr Donna Hope, I was easily dismissed as an uptown fundamentalist, Christian and hypocrite.
I was projected as merely expressing middle-class prejudice against poor people's culture; being trapped by western notions of decency, good taste and good behaviour, while being contemptuous of assertive black people demanding their 'space'.
I had mistaken the black woman's liberation and sense of pride over her beautiful black body, which she now exposes with delight and relish, myopically seeing that as 'slackness'.
But they don't know how to deal with Mutabaruka. He has authenticity and no one can get away with saying that he despises black people and their culture.
Muta's strong and unequivocal call for cen-sorship and even punishment by the state has set the cat among the pigeons and has left the UWI defenders of dancehall in a quandary.
Those whom I have traditionally termed uncritical defenders of dancehall have been put on the defensive and are being shouted down. I will have to put up a defence of their right to state their position and to state it boldly, without our disrespecting them. I take exception, for example, to my friend Betty Ann Blaine calling them "perverts" and warning about "these intellectuals". I understand your passion, Betty, and your incredulity at the absurd lengths to which some persons go to defend their indefensible views, but they are not perverts just because they approve of what we see as slackness. They honestly believe that we are really terrified that the subculture is taking over our bourgeois culture and that we are trying desperately to maintain our cultural hegemony.
Not promoting violent sex
I also have to say that I reject the view that Rampin' Shop is promoting violent sex. Rough sex is not the same thing as violent sex, Dr Dunn. There is such a thing as violent sex, but Rampin' Shop does not fall in that genre. It is raw sex, not violent sex.
In this case I agree with my usual UWI combatants that the language is metaphorical and we must not get silly by literalising it. Note, too, that in Rampin' Shop, Spice is not merely the passive, submissive female on the receiving end of Kartel's daggerin' lyrics. It's not the usual domination/submission ritual. She also promises to do "damage" to him in response to his "threats". She "tek it to him".
This is no defence of Rampin' Shop.But we don't help our case by putting forward arguments that can't sustain serious analytical scrutiny. Rampin' Shop is vulgar and slack and should not only be banned from radio but from public spaces generally. It is offensive to public sensibilities.
Even the dancehall defenders at the UWI would have to agree - even without a poll - that most Jamaicans would find that song shockingly offensive, crude and irredeemably vulgar. In the name of democracy and public decency alone - even if contextually defined - Rampin' Shop should have no place in any public place - and certainly not in our buses and sidewalks through sound systems.
'Rampin' Shop' mild
What might really shock many people, particularly from the middle class, is that Rampin' Shop is mild - yes, mild - compared to other songs in the dancehall. And, if you ever hear what the sound system selectors say over the mike, that is what would give Esther Tyson a heart attack! Thank God, Sister Esther knows nothing of those songs.
I hear Kartel and his lawyer talking nonsense about free speech being jeopardised. But what about the freedom of decent ghetto people who want the right to rear their children without those children being assaulted by the filth and nastiness coming from the sound systems in their communities? What about their rights?
Uncritical dancehall defenders talk about parents' protecting their own children from the filth dancehall artistes spew out, but how can they do so when they are prisoners of their poverty in the ghetto, and can't afford to migrate to middle-class communities where they can escape the tyranny of all-day, all-night nasty music?
Decent people can't entertain friends in their homes or even have Bible study in peace because of others exercising their freedom to play filth and garbage.
If these people confined their nastiness and filth to Sting and Sumfest, that's OK with me. We know what dancehall night at Sumfest is about and what Sting is. If people want to have their X-rated dancehall events where they are not disturbing decent people in their homes, I am not for censorship.
Vulgar dancehall events
Just as how I would not campaign, in a pluralistic society, for all go-go clubs and massage parlours to be closed by the state, or lobby for porn magazines not to be sold here, or for Flow to shut down its X-rated channels, so I would not be spending column inches making the case for vulgar dancehall events to be banned.
Muta says producers who put out music promoting violence and vulgarity should be prosecuted. He feels government should not just ban songs like Rampin' Shop from the electronic media - for youth have cellphones, iphones and YouTube - but they should be banned, period. I wasn't even going that far. Muta feels producers should not be free to put out music promoting violence, misogyny and vulgarity.
The free-speech argument
Now, some try cleverly to use the free-speech argument to defend their right to have certain music in the public square. This is indefensible legally and philosophically.
The United States is used as the libertarian model of free speech, but many don't realise that the US Supreme Court affords different degrees of protection to free speech based on content. This is important.
Commercial speech, for example, is not accorded the same status in US law as political speech. Political speech protection is grounded in the European Enlightenment view that free speech is critical in the search for truth and, therefore, must be protected. It is based on a view of epistemological humility and hence an open society (to use philosopher Karl Popper's term) is encouraged so various ideas can contend for us to better arrive at truth. Commercial speech, or profanity, is not seen in that same light and does not have the same status.
I cite the Young vs American Minitheatres case in the US Supreme Court. Justice Stevens, in handing down the majority opinion said: "A remark attributed to Voltaire characterises our zealous adherence to the principle that Government may not tell the citizen what he may or may not say. Referring to a suggestion that a violent tyranny might be legitimate, he said: 'I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it'. The essence of that comment has been repeated time after time in our decisions invalidating attempts by the Government to impose selective controls upon the disseminating of ideas."
But Justice Stevens rejected the view that similar protection is given to erotic speech. "It is manifest that society's interest in protecting this type of expression (erotic speech) is of a wholly different and lesser magnitude than the interest in untrammelled political debate that inspired Voltaire's immortal comment. Few of us would march our sons and daughters off to war to preserve the citizen's right to see 'Specified Sexual Activities' exhibited in the theatres of our choice."
In Chaplinsky vs New Hampshire, Justice Murphy announced the Supreme Court's initial formulation of what has been called the Fighting Words Doctrine.
Note Justice Murphy's words carefully: "There are certain well-defined and narrowly limited classes of speech, the prevention and punishment of which have never been thought to raise a constitutional problem. These include the lewd and obscene ... and the insulting or fighting words - those which by their very utterance inflect injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of peace. It has been well observed that such utterances are no essential part of any exposition of ideas and are of such slight social value as a step to truth that any benefit that may be derived from them is clearly outweighed by the social interest in order and morality."
This is significant and should prevent the advocates of negative dancehall from talking nonsense about their absolute right to 'free speech' in spreading their pollution.
I am happy that the debate has not left out lewd soca wining by uptown people, for surely if, as the Broadcasting Commission decrees, daggerin' cannot be shown on television, then carnival should not be broadcast either. We must have one law for downtown and uptown. I am glad that the upper-class, social-pages people are not exempted in this. I don't say soca songs are generally as vulgar as some of our dancehall songs, but I do say that the carnival gyrations are similar to daggerin'.
Don't alienate poor people
We must be careful that we don't alienate poor people by manifesting double standards - and the Broadcasting Commission's assurances of fairness are welcome and will be monitored.
Also, the commission must pay urgent attention to violent lyrics - that's an even greater threat to order and stability than the slackness. Deal with the gun-talk lyrics. And, the media must stop being hypocritical by bigging up dancehall artistes who promote violence and murder. We can't leave everything to the state.
The momentum is building against negative dancehall. We must seize the moment.
Ian Boyne is a veteran journalist who may be reached at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
by BARBARA GAYLE,
The man who is charged with the murder of 64-year-old Ambassador Peter King took the decision yesterday (Friday 13th)to give his defence on oath from the witness stand, where he will face thorough cross-examination.
Sheldon Pusey, 25, has been on trial in the Home Circuit Court since January 19 for the murder.
King was fatally stabbed and chopped at his house between March 19 and 20, 2006.
Pusey said in his defence yesterday that sometime after 6 p.m. on March 19, 2006, he went to King's house about a job. He said it was a man called 'Rupie' who sent him for the job.
Pusey said he was a carpenter, but because he suffered from sickle-cell disease, he had given up the trade, because it was too strenuous, and worked as a waiter at Strawberry Hill Hotel, St Andrew.
He was at King's house for about four hours when he told King it was getting late and he had to leave.
King insisted that he stay the night and gave him a meal and an alcoholic drink. After he had the drink, Pusey said he felt dizzy, as if he was going to faint.
He told King he had to go home. King began dragging him to a room and kept telling him that he should lie down.
Pusey said King began stroking him - his face, chest and shoulders. The accused said he pushed King away as King began to take off his (Pusey's ) clothes. He said at that time, King was naked. Pusey said he tried to fight King, but he could not manage King because of King's size. He said while they were wrestling, he managed to get something from a cup holder and stabbed King.
Pusey said he was also injured during the incident. King eased off and he said he jumped over the balcony, jumped over the fence and left the premises. He said he went to his mother's house where he burned the clothes he had been wearing. He then left for Mango Valley, St Mary, where he remained until he was arrested in March 2007.
When cross-examined by Caroline Hay, deputy director of public prosecutions, Pusey said he also answered to the names 'Brown Man', Anthony Blake, AB and Blond Pryce. He said women had given him the names. Asked if he had many girls, he replied "not right now".
He said he did not know if Rupie was gay and that he understood the word gay to mean men having sex with men. He said it was Rupie who had sent him to King about the job and the last time he saw Rupie was on March 19, 2006, when Rupie showed him where King lived.
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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
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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
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