Friday, June 12, 2009
Unprotected heterosexual sex is the main route to HIV/AIDS transmission in the Caribbean, with unprotected homosexual sex a critical factor.
According to a 2007 report on HIV/AIDS in Jamaica, cultural factors are fuelling the epidemic in high-risk groups (prostitutes and men who have sex with men). In addition, a 2008 study commissioned by the Ministry of Health showed that about one-third of men who have sex with men were also having sex with multiple female partners.
Shortcomings in the laws
The Ministry of Health cannot now deliver services to these high-risk groups under current laws, let alone the even more stringent laws about to be introduced under the Sexual Offences Bill. For example, under this new bill:
A man who is convicted of buggery (having consensual anal sex with a man or a woman) may now be listed as a sex offender after his 10-year prison sentence ends.
A woman who is convicted of prostitution (having consensual commercial sex) may be fined up to $500,000 and be imprisoned for up to five years. Anyone who lives with a prostitute, or is seen in her company, can be arrested and suffer the same penalties as the prostitute.
It is certainly in our interest as a society to avoid introducing laws almost guaranteed to worsen a potential epidemic.
I am, etc.,
YVONNE MCCALLA SOBERS
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
While the St Andrew North police, who are investigating the matter, say they have not established any link between the lawyer's murder and the tapes, sources are claiming otherwise.
leaked by someone
Information reaching THE STAR is that certain individuals believed that the content of the tapes, which was reported by the media during the murder trial, was leaked by someone, possibly Bryan, who had viewed the tapes.
"They had to shut him up because nobody was sure if or when he would begin to name persons on those tapes," the sources said.
Bryan, who represented Sheldon Pusey, the man sentenced to 15 years for the 2006 murder of King, was among the few non-state individuals who had officially viewed the tapes taken from King's house.
The viewing of the 460 videotapes by Bryan was done in his preparation for Pusey's defence.
They allegedly depicted persons from all sectors of Jamaican society carrying out homosexual activities. Since word of the tapes got out, there have been widespread speculations about the persons featured on it.
Bryan's body was found with multiple stab wounds and appeared to have been beaten with a blunt instrument.
OTHER BLOG POST
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Monday, June 8, 2009
By Jeff Cumberbatch
WHETHER owed to our Judaeo-Christian background; our colonial status, which engendered a sometime legislative dependency on Britain; the popular will or, maybe, a combination of these, all sexual acts between males are criminalised under our law. Indeed, in 1992, when we enacted a new sexual offences statute, not only did we reiterate this illegality, but we also criminalised, perhaps inadvertently, identical acts between males and females, even if they are married, even if the acts are consensual, and even if they are committed in private. This anomaly remains.
Not that this is a universal position. England, from whom we would have taken our original legislation, has long ago changed its law to decriminalise sexual acts between males, provided the participants are above the age of consent, the act occurs in private and is consensual. And in the State of Texas, the US Supreme Court has struck down a statute which made it a crime for two persons of the same sex to engage in sexual practices common to a homosexual lifestyle, on the twin bases of the entitlement of such persons to respect for their privacy – “…it is a promise of the Constitution that there is a realm of personal liberty which the government may not enter…”; and their right to equal protection under the law – “…moral disapproval of a group cannot be a legitimate governmental interest under the Equal Protection clause because legal classifications must not be drawn for the purpose of disadvantaging the group burdened by the law…”
Indeed, several of our regional neighbours, who are similarly situated to us societally, have departed from our current stance. In the case of the Bahamas, by virtue of statute, intimate homosexual acts are only outlawed if one adult male has sexual intercourse with another male who is a minor or has sexual intercourse in a public place with another male whether with or without the consent of that other male. And in the British Overseas Territories, specifically Anguilla, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat, the Turks and Caicos Islands and the British Virgin Islands, the Caribbean Territories (Criminal Law) Order 2000 issued by Her Majesty provides that notwithstanding any statutory or common law provision in Force in the Territory to the contrary, a homosexual act (defined as buggery or gross indecency between two males) in private shall not be an offence “provided that the parties consent thereto and have attained the age of eighteen years”.
Of course, these positions are not binding on Barbados and, as a sovereign jurisdiction, we are free to follow our own democratic sentiments in this regard; free, that is, to the extent that, in the exercise of that sovereignty, we have not bound ourselves by treaty to act in a prescribed manner. In recent times, we have encountered more than a few instances in which the local populist or statutory view clashes with the spirit or letter of our treaty obligations of one kind or another – the death penalty itself, its mandatory nature, the corporal punishment of prisoners, the corporal punishment of children, the provision of imprisonment for certain strikes under the Better Security Act – and unless we are prepared to withdraw from the specific treaty and the community of nations which endorse it, then we may be forced to change our laws in order to conform.
In this regard, Barbados ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) on March 23, 1976. This covenant provides, inter alia, for protection from discrimination on a variety of grounds; protection which Barbados, as a state party to the treaty, undertook to respect and to ensure to all individuals within its territories and subject to its jurisdiction. Now one of these grounds is sex, which ordinarily relates to distinction between male and female but, in 1994, the Human Rights Committee, charged with the interpretation of the Covenant, considered that the criminalisation of private sexual activity between consenting same-sex adults violated the anti-discrimination Articles of the Covenant, including that of discrimination on the basis of sex.
In a March 2007 report prepared by Global Rights and the International Human Rights Advocacy Seminar at the University of Virginia School of Law, which only recently became available online (http://www.globalrights.org/site/DocServer/Shadow_Report_Barbados.pdf?docID=9863) and which is provocatively entitled “Violation of the Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Persons in Barbados”, this country is excoriated for its non-compliance with the Articles of the ICCPR with respect to these individuals. There has not been, to put it mildly, an abundance of public comment on it, but this does not surprise.
The entire document repays reading, but what is intriguing to this writer is its position on same sex marriages and the law in Barbados. Conceding that the right to same-sex marriage is not officially recognised under the ICCPR, it nevertheless refers to the decision in Young v. Australia where the Human Rights Committee held that a failure of the state to grant de facto same-sex couples benefits available to de facto couples of opposite sexes violates Article 26 of the Treaty which guarantees to all persons equality and equal protection of the law without discrimination.
Given that under our Family Law Act, so called “common-law” unions, but only between a man and a woman, are recognised as “unions other than marriage” for certain purposes, the report argues that Barbados thereby provides against equal benefits for unmarried same-sex and heterosexual couples. In other words, we discriminate against same-sex unmarried couples by according different treatment to them from that accorded to heterosexual unmarried couples, based solely on their sex.
This argument appears irrefutable.
Sunday, June 7, 2009
This resolution is the result of the advocacy and coordination activities realized in the past three years by 24 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Travesti, Transgender, Transsexual and Intersex (LGBTTTI) groups of 17 countries forming a Coalition of Latin America and the Caribbean, that meets every year before the General Assembly to coordinate its advocacy work within the OAS.
- RESOLUTION - AG/RES. 2504 (XXXIX-O/09)
HUMAN RIGHTS, SEXUAL ORIENTATION, AND GENDER IDENTITY
(Adopted at the fourth plenary session, held on June 4, 2009)
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY,
BEARING IN MIND resolution AG/RES. 2435 (XXXVIII-O/08), entitled “Human rights, sexual orientation, and gender identity”;
That the Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights and that everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in that Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth, or other status; and
That the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man establishes that every human being has the right to life, liberty, and the security of the person;
CONSIDERING that the Charter of the Organization of American States (OAS) proclaims that the historic mission of America is to offer to man a land of liberty and a favorable environment for the development of his personality and the realization of his just aspirations;
REAFFIRMING the principles of universality, indivisibility, and interdependence of human rights;
TAKING NOTE of the Declaration on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity presented to the United Nations General Assembly on December 18, 2008; and
NOTING WITH CONCERN acts of violence and related human rights violations perpetrated against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity,
1. To condemn acts of violence and related human rights violations committed against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity.
2. To urge states to ensure that acts of violence and human rights violations committed against individuals because of sexual orientation and gender identity are investigated and their perpetrators brought to justice.
3. To urge states to ensure adequate protection for human rights defenders who work on the issue of acts of violence and human rights violations committed against individuals because of sexual orientation and gender identity.
4. To request the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the other organs of the inter-American system to continue to pay sufficient attention to this issue.
5. To reiterate its request for the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs (CAJP) to include on its agenda, before the fortieth regular session of the General Assembly, the topic of “Human rights, sexual orientation, and gender identity.”
6. To request the Permanent Council to report to the General Assembly at its fortieth regular session on the implementation of this resolution, the execution of which shall be subject to the availability of financial resources in the program-budget of the Organization and other resources.
SAN PEDRO SULA DECLARATION OF THE COALITION OF LESBIANS, GAYS, BISEXUALS, TRAVESTI, TRANSSEXUALS, TRANSGENDERS AND INTERSEX OF THE AMERICAS.
Mister Secretary General, Ministers, Members of the Official Delegations, Civil Society Representatives,
We, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Travesti, Transsexual, Transgender and Intersex organizations, convened in San Pedro Sula, Honduras on May 29, 30 and 31, 2009, in accordance with the directives established by the General Assembly of the OAS in its resolutions AG/RES.2092( XXXV-O/05) ; CP/RES.759(1217/ 99); 840(1361/03) ; AG/RES.1707( XXX-O/00) and AG/RES.1915( XXXIII-O/ 03), which determine a regulatory framework to enhance and strengthen civil society participation in OAS activities and in the Summit of the Americas process, highlighting the importance of the resolution AG/RES. 2435 (XXXVIII-O/08) , express our concern for the omission of the concept of gender identity and expression from paragraph 5 of the draft declaration of San Pedro Sula, which makes reference to violence generated by discrimination. Gender identity and expression of travestis, transgenders and transsexuals are fundamental elements of the exercise of our cultural freedom and self-construction.
In the American hemisphere the atrocities committed have been documented over a decade. Several reports mostly drafted by non governmental organizations highlight the existence of countless extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detentions, tortures and killings as a consequence of the so-called “social cleansing” campaigns or by extermination groups, such as in Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador.
However, it should be noted that these identified forms of discriminatory acts and violence are the most evident and extreme kinds of rights violations, those which essentially affect the rights to life and personal integrity.
These are not only limited to physical attacks, police mistreatment, abuse by authorities and hate crimes. Within families and the community, practices of private violence, like forced marriages, submission to stereotypes and gender roles that limit the free development of the personality and sexuality, forced segregation and torture in “rehabilitation” clinics, that often end with suicide. Violence within the judicial system, manifested by the legal process for sex and name change, implies humiliating clinical exams, forced surgery and mutilation.
Being Afro-descendant, woman, indigenous, youth, migrant, elderly, or living with disability, among other reasons for marginalization, are factors that aggravate violence against individuals because of their sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.
We believe it is fundamental that discrimination is combated with appropriate and effective legal instruments that moreover promote a culture of non violence.
In this context we should draw attention to the situation in the eight English-speaking Caribbean countries that still keep in force the so-called “sodomy laws” which are used by the state, security forces and private actors to harass, intimidate and persecute us. These laws which have been consistently classified as human rights violations, create a climate of violence which has been identified by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights during their recent visit to Jamaica.
The countless cases of killings, tortures, sexual violence, arbitrary detentions, public humiliations to which travesti, trangender, transsexual, lesbianas, gay, bisexuals and intersex people, as well as sex workers, are daily subjected in Central America and the Caribbean, and particularly in Honduras, perpetuate a context of hate and impunity with complete indifference by the state.
For these reasons, we demand that States, and particularly the government of Honduras, to develop transparent and serious investigations that should take place with full respect for the law, as well as to severely punish those actors that commit felonies covered by impunity and moral values that feed and justify hate and prejudices.
Therefore, we demand:
That the OAS includes gender identity in its program on the right to identity in order to give States the possibility to develop the necessary legal framework to eliminate social exclusion through the legal recognition of trans persons.
That member states of the English-speaking Caribbean repeal laws that criminalize sexual intercourse between consenting adults of the same sex and all other laws that limit the free development of personality or incite to social violence.
That Member states commit to defining national comprehensive policies aimed at implementing good practices in all social, educational and professional contexts and the creation of bodies that monitor the existing situation on human rights violations.
That the General Assembly approves the draft Resolution AG/doc. 4962/09 “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” presented by the Brazilian Delegation, whose initiative we fully endorse.
That the General Assembly approves the draft Resolution AG/doc. 4959/09 “Draft Inter-American Convention against Racism and all Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance” and that Member States commit themselves to finalize the negotiation of the draft accepting the substantive progress achieved during the past years.
Given this situation of war against our desire, our bodies and our identities, we advocate for a culture of peace.
AIREANA - Camila Zabala – Paraguay, C TTT- Claudia Sosa - Honduras, COLECTIVA MUJER y SALUD, Julie Betances – República Dominicana, COMUNICACIÓN MUJER, Soledad Varela - Ecuador, CORPORACION OPCION, Diana Navarro - Colombia, ENTRE-TRANSITOS - Camilo Andrés Rojas - Colombia, GREEN CHOP - Kimany Parke - Grenada, HUMANA NACION TRANS-Hazel Gloria Davenport - México, IGLHRC-LAC - Marcelo Ferreyra – Argentina, INSTITUTO RUNA-Belissa Andia – Perú, LIDERES EN ACCION-Germán Rincón - Colombia, MEN UNITED - Keneth Van Emdem - Suriname, MULABI, ESPACIO LATINOAMERICANO EN SEXUALIDADES Y DERECHOS, Marina Bernal, México-Colombia, ORGANIZACIÓN DE TRANSEXUALES POR LA DIGNIDAD Andrés Rivera –Chile, RED AFRO LGBTI - Edmilson Medeiros BRASIL, RED J-FLAG - Maurice Tomilson – Jamaica, RED LACTRANS - Marcela Romero- Argentina, RED TRANS Nicaragua - Silvia Martínez – Nicaragua, SASOD- Namela Baynes Henry - Guyana,UNIBAM - Devon Gabourel - Belize, VELVET UNDERGROUND Angela Francis - Trinidad and Tobago.
As a Coalition partner: Stefano Fabeni-Global Rights
JAMAICA HAS come a far way as it relates to the treatment of persons living with HIV/AIDS, according to Dr Kevin Harvey, senior medical officer in the Ministry of Health's HIV/STI Control Programme.
Addressing a recent Gleaner Editor's Forum, Harvey disclosed that there had been significant gains in the last five years in the management and care of persons who are HIV-infected.
"We find that most people are willing to sit beside, hold hands, talk to, and even take care of somebody who is HIV-infected, particularly family members. This has been a significant shift we are seeing now," Harvey told the forum, which was held at the newspaper's, central Kingston head offices.
Harvey added: "We still have a challenge where persons refuse or have difficulties buying food or eating from somebody who they know to be HIV-infected; but they are more willing to allow their children to go to school with HIV-infected individuals and work alongside them."
Ministry of Health estimates indicate that of the 27,000 persons who are living with the disease, 18,000 are unaware of their status.
Harvey said that there had also been a significant shift in the face and image of HIV/AIDS in Jamaica from one of persons being ill, losing a lot of weight, hardly being able to help themselves, to one of an image of being a regular Jamaican.
"We are saying you cannot tell by looking; anybody sitting beside you or working with you can be HIV-infected and you don't know," said Harvey.
He attributed this to the affordable treatments that were now available.
Harvey told the gathering that in 2003, it cost somewhere between $20,000 to $30,000 each month for anti-retroviral drugs.
Now, the most expensive regime costs approximately $9,000 per month, and is free in the public sector.
Harvey also revealed that the test to monitor persons who were HIV-infected had been reduced from $10,000 to $3,000.
Persons living with HIV are now living longer, Harvey also revealed. He said before the introduction of anti-retroviral drugs, the average life span after being diagnosed with the disease was one year.
"Now, we have people who are diagnosed with AIDS up to five years, and some people who have been on, before our major programme up to 14 years of anti-retroviral drugs and are living healthy, happy lives," Harvey reported.
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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
- 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 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
CLICK HERE for related posts/labels and HERE from the gayjamaicawatch's BLOG containing information I am aware of. If you know of any such reports or incidents please contact email@example.com
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