Friday, July 3, 2009
check out his analysis of Ms Bennett's presentation in the Senate recently.
BY udo schuklenk
This thing about 'unnatural' sex has been bugging me for a long time. For those of us who are trained to think about what we mean when we say certain things the term 'unnatural' carries no normative weight. For those who think less (either because they quite naturally or culturally cannot think a great deal due to a lack of gray brain matter or lack of education) about what they mean when they say that something is 'unnatural', the 'unnatural' charge routinely leads to demands that certain behaviours or products be outlawed.
Let me look at two examples just from this week, one from Uganda, the other from Jamaica, quite naturally both examples involve Christians on a crusade against gay sex. So, here we go:
Dr. James Nsaba Buturo is the Ugandan Minister of State for Ethics and Integrity. He announced this week that any attempt by donor agencies to have the country legalise 'unnatural' sex (and homosexual sex in particular) will fail. He went on to say that the government is prepared to fortfeit any [sic!] amount of donor money if that meant accepting homosexuality. I'm a consequentialist, so when someone says something like 'no matter what', which is what Dr Buturo's 'any' implies, I know I am seeing someone not too deeply rooted in reality. For the sake of the argument: what if someone gave Uganda enough money to resolve the problem of poverty among its people for good, offered in addition free education, state-of-the-art free health care to everyone living in Uganda etc, provided that consenting adults be permitted to engage in 'unnatural' sex if they so wish. Any government minister who would be prepared to sacrifice the well-being of the people in such a case for the sake of fighting 'unnatural' sex is obviously a nutcase. Consequences be damned is very Christian, of course, but it also not very smart.
Anyhow, I digress, I really meant to write about the 'natural' and the 'unnatural', and that I will do, but let me first give you the second example. We owe it to a Christian 'Senator' in Jamaica. I don't know Jamaica too well, so I presume Senators are not overly well educated people relying on tax hand outs for a living while preaching hate. Anyhow, here we go, in her own words, Jamaican Senator Hyacinth Benneth: "For many persons that push a radical homosexual agenda it is claimed that homosexual behaviour is natural for them. That particuar [sic!] group has been quite successful in advancing their cause by using the rights based approach. I am not a psychologist or a psychiatrist but I have not seen where homosexual behaviour has been conclusively shown to be natural. In fact the dominant scientific opinion has been that no one can conclusively show that homosexuality is natural."
So, don't blame me, blame Dr Buturo and Ms Benneth for today's rant on nature.
Ms Benneth is probably unaware of the fact that there is no dominant scientific opinion on the naturalness or otherwise of homosexuality. The reason for this is that this issue is not a scientific question to begin with. It's a matter of what you mean when you call something 'natural'. In science EVERYTHING that is physically possible by necessity is considered a natural thing. Anything governed by the laws of nature is natural. So, for that reason alone there can't be a body of scientific opinion on the naturalness of homosexuality anymore than there can be a body of scientific literature on any number of other things that are happening within what the laws of nature permit (namely: everything that is physically possible).
What does this mean? Not too much. Gay activists, do not rejoice too quickly. A lot of crap happens in nature. Crocodiles eat tourists in the Australian Northern Territory just about every year. Very much a natural thing, but still it's not nice. Men (usually) rape women. Natural. People drive cars. Natural. People fly to the moon. Natural. People kill each other in genocides. Natural. People bake cakes. Natural. You get the drift, I'm sure.
I sympathise entirely with the letter writer 'Betrayed Wife', (posted below) who said she was a victim of deception in that her husband cheated on her with another man and then brought home an illness to the matrimonial home that affected her terribly.
In her letter of support for Senator Sandrea Falconer, however, she did not seem to take adequate note of what the letter that criticised the senator's position was saying. Nothing in Falconer's presentation in the Senate, as reported in the media, addressed betrayal by wives or women on the 'down low', a term not generally applied to women but whose concept is understood.
There will always be deceivers
Some time ago it was reported that a UHWI study found that 25 per cent of men who had obtained paternity tests for their 'children' found out that they were not the biological fathers as they had been led to believe. So between lesbians in 'normal' marital relationships and cheating wives/girlfriends, there is a lot of punishment to be meted out if Senator Falconer's law is not to be discriminatory against men.
A casual study of human nature suggests that there will always be deceivers of one kind or another, but 'Betrayed Wife', perhaps, needs also to consider another point. As long as society insists that gay people conform to a majority normative pattern of behaviour, so much more will the percentage of deceivers be high and their deception continue. If we insist - sometimes with hostility - that people conform to certain behaviours publicly, some will do so and then act on what they accept to be their true selves elsewhere. That's the problem the society must grapple with.
I am, etc.,
J .B. PETERS
Thursday, July 2, 2009
6. The petitioner NGO has been working in the field of HIV/AIDS
Intervention and prevention. This necessarily involves interaction with such sections of society as are vulnerable to contracting HIV/AIDS and which include gay community or individuals described as “men who have sex with men” (MSM). For sake of convenient reference, they would hereinafter be referred to as “homosexuals” or “gay” persons or gay community. Homosexuals, according to the petitioner, represent a population segment that is extremely
vulnerable to HIV/AIDS infection. The petitioner claims to have been impelled to bring this litigation in public interest on the ground that HIV/AIDS prevention efforts were found
to be severely impaired by discriminatory attitudes exhibited by state agencies towards gay community, MSM or trans-gendered individuals, under the cover of enforcement of Section 377 IPC, as a result of which basic fundamental human rights of such individuals/groups (in
minority) stood denied and they were subjected to abuse, harassment, assault from public and public authorities.
7. According to the petitioner, Section 377 IPC is based upon traditional Judeo-Christian moral and ethical standards, which conceive of sex in purely functional terms, i.e., for the purpose of procreation only. Any non-procreative sexual activity is thus viewed as being “against the order of nature”. The submission is that the legislation criminalising consensual oral and anal sex is outdated and has no place in modern society. In fact, studies of Section 377 IPC jurisprudence reveal that lately it has generally been employed in cases of child sexual assault and abuse. By
criminalising private, consensual same-sex conduct, Section 377 IPC serves as the weapon for police abuse; detaining and questioning, extortion, harassment, forced sex, payment of hush money; and perpetuates negative and discriminatory beliefs towards same-sex relations and
sexuality minorities; which consequently drive the activities of gay men and MSM, as well as sexuality minorities underground thereby crippling HIV/AIDS prevention efforts. Section 377 IPC thus creates a class of vulnerable people that is continually victimised and directly affected by the provision. It has been submitted that the fields of psychiatry and psychology no longer treat homosexuality a disease and regard sexual orientation to be a deeply held, core part of the identities of individuals.
8. The petitioner submits that while right to privacy is implicit in the right to life and liberty and guaranteed to the citizens, in order to be meaningful, the pursuit of happiness encompassed within the concepts of privacy, human dignity, individual autonomy and the human need for an intimate personal sphere require that privacy – dignity claim concerning private, consensual, sexual relations are also afforded protection within the ambit of the said fundamental right to life and liberty given under Article 21. It is averred that no aspect of one’s life may be said to be more private or intimate than that of sexual relations, and since private, consensual, sexual relations or sexual preferences figure prominently within an individual’s personality and lie easily at the core of the “private space”, they are an inalienable component of the right of life. Based on this line of reasoning, a case has been made to the effect that the prohibition of certain private, consensual sexual relations (homosexual) provided by Section 377 IPC unreasonably
abridges the right of privacy and dignity within the ambit of right to life and liberty under Article 21. The petitioner argues that fundamental right to privacy under Article 21 can be abridged only for a compelling state interest which, in its submission, is amiss here. Also based on the
fundamental right to life under Article 21 is the further submission that Section 377 IPC has a damaging impact upon the lives of homosexuals inasmuch as it not only perpetuates social stigma and police/public abuse but also drives homosexual activity underground thereby jeopardizing HIV/AIDS prevention efforts and, thus, rendering gay men and MSM increasingly vulnerable to contracting HIV/AIDS.
9. Further, it has been submitted on behalf of the petitioner that Section 377 IPC's legislative objective of penalizing “unnatural sexual acts” has no rational nexus to the classification created between procreative and nonprocreative sexual acts, and is thus violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India. Section 377's legislative objective is based upon stereotypes and misunderstanding that are outmoded and enjoys no historical or logical rationale which render it arbitrary and unreasonable. It is further the case of the petitioner that the expression “sex” as used in Article 15 cannot be read restrictive to “gender” but includes “sexual orientation” and, thus read, equality on the basis of sexual orientation is implied in the said fundamental right
against discrimination. The petitioner argues that criminalization of predominantly homosexual activity through Section 377 IPC is discriminatory on the basis of sexual orientation and, therefore, violative of Article 15. It is further the case of the petitioner that the prohibition against homosexuality in Section 377 IPC curtails orinfringes the basic freedoms guaranteed under Article 19 (1) (a) (b) (c) & (d); in that, an individual’s ability to make personal statement about one’s sexual preferences, right of association/assembly and right to move freely so as to
engage in homosexual conduct are restricted and curtailed.
10. Broadly on the above reasoning, it has been submitted that there is a case for consensual sexual intercourse (of the kind mentioned above; i.e. homosexual) between two willing adults in privacy to be saved and excepted from the penal provision contained in Section 377 IPC.
March 9, 2009—“Recently, a member of Parliament stated that homosexuals are known to be violent and should not be allowed to bear arms, that the security forces have been infiltrated by homosexuals….and therefore that the laws against buggery should be made harsher,” said Jamaican social justice leader Dr. Robert Carr in a recent interview with amfAR. “At the time, this was applauded by his fellow Parliamentarians.”
Several years ago, when he was executive director of Jamaica AIDS Support for Life, Dr. Carr witnessed a constant assault on the humanity of gay and bisexual people from elected officials, homophobic dance hall artists, and religious leaders who believe that gay rights are against God’s will. All too often, said Dr. Carr, this animosity “played itself out in physical violence—people end up being beaten or set on fire.”
For the past three years, Dr. Carr has worked tirelessly to address the human rights of these vulnerable populations as volunteer executive director of the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition. An amfAR MSM Initiative Community Award has allowed him to build leadership among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) movements in a region known for its virulent anti-gay biases.
“When I discovered how badly people living with HIV/AIDS were treated without a second thought, I was shocked,” recalls Dr. Carr of his start in AIDS advocacy. “The idea that people could be physically brutalized like that not only with impunity, but with the overt support of these sectors of society just shocked me. I became an advocate at a time when almost no one was talking about stigma and discrimination in the region and there was a lot of work to be done.”
The biggest issue now, said Dr. Carr, is entrenched homophobia, which is defended loudly in the classroom, in the boardroom, on the streets, in the pulpit, in the media, and in Parliament. To speak up is to risk bodily harm.
“That said, we have also seen significant progress,” he continued. Key institutions such as the police, the national HIV control program, and the media have become more responsive to the issues faced by MSM, said Dr. Carr. He explained that police, concerned about extreme violence, have begun to monitor officers’ responses, and have even put themselves in the line of fire against mobs attacking men who appear effeminate, or who “look funny,” to use the island parlance.
Across the Caribbean, leaders have emerged who are willing to further this progress, said Dr. Carr, noting nascent efforts in Grenada, Antigua, Guyana, and Dominica. “The change has to come from within; it really has to be Caribbean people taking a stand against this kind of violence and abuse, and against…misinformed, emotionally based, irresponsible attempts at policy making,” he added.
Among those Caribbean countries with fledgling MSM organizations, most are unable to accomplish little more than condom distribution. In this region, MSM tend to be segregated by class, and meet others via Internet-based social and sexual networks. To reach those in need, programmers have to tap into these same networks.
The amfAR community award provided an opportunity to begin that dialogue via a three-day consultation and training for community leaders on how to undertake HIV prevention, community mobilization, and human rights advocacy despite the homophobia and hostility facing LGBTs in the Caribbean.
“The fact that the conversation is even happening is a major milestone,” said Dr. Carr. “I think there’s a lot to be hopeful for, and I think Jamaica will find its way. It’s just going to take the time, commitment, and determination…of people who have the strength and courage to differ from the majority, to stay their ground, and to do their best to make a difference.”
The work of amfAR’s MSM Initiative in the Caribbean is supported by the Elton John AIDS Foundation.
I am disappointed by the tone of the letter in Monday's Gleaner by Ricardo Smalling, who criticised the presentation by senators Sandrea Falconer and Hyacinth Bennett on the sexual offences bill.
I don't agree with Senator Bennett as I cannot support discrimination because of one's sexual preference. However, as a victim of the cruel deception Senator Falconer spoke of, I support her call for men who are on the 'down low' to be eligible for prosecution. There was nothing in her presentation that amounted to discrimination and to characterise her remarks as such is a gross misrepresentation.
I was forced to write this letter so Smalling can understand and develop a little sensitivity towards the plight of a woman whose husband engages in sexual activity with another man, then comes home to his wife and have sex with her.
I was one of those women. I found out about my husband's infidelity with another man when I developed a condition that eventually required a hysterectomy.
Senator Falconer spoke on my behalf and I was very grateful.
Smalling poured scorn on how cases would be investigated, but in many instances women do have enough evidence but no legal recourse. My husband put my life at risk. He destroyed not only me but our children. The letter writer showed a lack of understanding and sensitivity. This is not just about men who cheat but a man who sells himself as being of one sexual persuasion and on that basis enters into a relationship with a woman who would have had nothing to do with him had she known his true proclivity. The same should go for women who cheat on their men with other women.
I am happy that the senator brought it up, and perhaps if there was such a law fewer men and women would lie about their sexual proclivities.
For women like me, she is a heroine.
I am, etc.,
Monday, June 29, 2009
Ms Bennett contined by asking:
"Can you really keep buggery between consenting male adults in the bedroom? she also stressed that granting homosexual rights would cause agitation for new penalties to address offences against same rights, she went on to say that Americans are grappling with whether to impose the controversial "hate crimes" legislation which would criminalize even a minister of religion saying that homosexual conduct is immoral.
.......although there has been a slight dip in cases of rape since 2000 from 870 to 849 in 2008 there have been increases and decreases over the period which indicate that we are not really getting rid of the problem. The total number of rapes during the period is 7,463. This is alarming.
In the case of buggery there has been a slight increase. Between 2000 and 2008, the number of cases has risen from 33 to 36 with a high of 47 in 2006, making total of 316 cases over the period.
British gay human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell of the London-based gay group OutRage! said:
Jamaican MPs are misrepresenting my views on the causes of homosexuality.
“I dispute the claim that a gay gene causes homosexuality. In my view,genetic and hormonal explanations of gayness are important and significant, but they are not adequate and sufficient. Homosexuality is definitely not a conscious choice.
“A person's sexuality is largely influenced before their birth and is firmly established by the age of six. It cannot be changed by so-called treatments and cures. This opinion is supported by the world's leading biological and psychological authorities. I am dismayed the way some Jamaican MPs have misrepresented my views in defence of the country's anti-gay laws."
"The fundamental truth is that it does not matter whether people are born gay or not. Gay people are human beings and therefore we deserve
equal human rights. A person chooses their religion and politics, but that does not mean that persecuting them because of their beliefs is justified.
“It is time the heterosexual majority stopped fretting over the causes of homosexuality and ceased victimising the gay minority. Live and let live is the best policy. Love for gay people is the true Christian response, " he said.
The Editor, Sir:
I often wonder if good sense is a prerequisite for serving in either House of the Jamaican parliament. The most recent example of why I would ask this question are the statements attributed to senators Sandrea Falconer and Hyacinth Bennett. These statements are in relation to the proposed sexual offences law.
Among the proposals of Senator Falconer is to have the men who engage in homosexual relationship outside of their heterosexual relationships, be specifically punished. These statements are not what would be expected from someone who is supposedly educated. I wonder how the Senator would propose we enforce this? Are the police to be expected to conduct investigations into who men who cheat are sleeping with? What about men who cheat with other women; no special punishment for them? How about women who cheat on their men with other women is that acceptable in the eyes of the senator?
Lack of understanding
The other statement by Senator Bennett, shows a complete lack of understanding of gender and sexuality. Senator Bennett would like the law only to recognise sexual intercourse as covering penis and vagina that are defined at birth. So a woman who has had gender re-assignment surgery could rape a man who has had gender reassignment surgery and it would not be classified as such under Senator Bennett's law.
Similarly, transgender women could be raped at will and would have no recourse under these laws. I would venture further and ask Senator Bennett about intersex individuals. What if neither organ is explicitly present at birth and later one is constructed, does that individual not deserve coverage under these rape laws?
The hatred of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in Jamaica is so strong, even among the leadership that it leads to propo-sals that can only be described as occupying the 'lunatic fringe'. It is particularly telling that these two individuals are black women who 100 years ago would have had as much right as a cow, yet they seem to be oblivious to the fact that the strides that they have been able to make were because others fought for their rights to fair and equal treatment under the law, and now persist to advocate for discrimination and what would amount to inhumane treatment of many of their fellow citizens.
I am, etc.,
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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