Thursday, July 30, 2009
Read more on What is the church really about? on my other blog gay Jamaica Watch.
Over the past months Jamaica has been having a dialogue overall about morality and Christianity and the various doctrines that obtain from the many denominations that co-exist here. My lesbian friend pointed out that the church is too busy dipping it's hands into state affairs it seems and I concurred referring to the much debated Sexual Offences Bill and the Abortion issue now in the public domain.
Read more on Theocracy issues and How Christians deal with law
Her personal path is that of handing over to God what she feels is an unchangeable course in her life that of being a lesbian, she says she prays to God for whatever should happen however I questioned her as to why she would do that, it's as if she concurs that her lesbianism is a sin thus making her unfit and unclean for the church and evangelism. I pointed out that many who are in the business of evangelism may never see the gates as that much coveted position alone in my view doesn't guarantee salvation in the end as the bible puts it. She recovered herself and went on to state that she believes God never made a mistake in creating her as she is and she feels her calling is to serve but the institutional structure of churches in general choke and exact bigoted positions to persons who seem different than the "holy" individual.
Frankly the church has no business in judging people if it does it is no different from the sinner folk it is to reach or to infuse love and peace in the lives of men.
Monday, July 27, 2009
WEBSTER... [the Bill] has been a long time coming
The Bill will repeal the Incest (Punishment) Act, as well as several provisions of the Offences Against the Person Act. It also provides for the establishment of a Sex Offenders Registry, which will maintain a register of sex offenders.
It was passed in the House of Representatives on March 31, tabled in the Senate in April and the debate started in May. However, over a lengthy process in the Senate, 28 amendments were made before the Bill was passed.
These amendments cover a number of crucial provisions, including: violation of persons suffering from mental disorders; procuring violations by threats, fraud or administering drugs; abduction of children to have sexual intercourse; unlawful detention to have sexual intercourse; living on earnings from prostitution; and protecting the anonymity of complainants and witnesses.
VASSELL... when women's rights are advanced, it provides a wake-up call to men
The Bill also provides a statutory definition of rape, as well as provisions relating to marital rape, specifying the circumstances in which such rape may be committed.
It was piloted through the Senate by Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Senator Dorothy Lightbourne, who is also the leader of Government business.
Lightbourne noted that the Bill was examined rigorously by the Senate and that the members had, in large part, made useful comments on the provisions.
HERON... there are still a few provisions that could have been less restrictive
Senator Navel Clarke who spoke on behalf of the Opposition members, welcomed its passage. He described the Bill as being "in the interest of the people", and expressed the hope that the Senate will continue in that direction.
Gender experts weigh in
EXECUTIVE Director of the Bureau of Women's Affairs (BWA), Faith Webster, said the Bill would go a far way in protecting the women in society who are often times victimised.
"It has been a long time in coming, but we have reached there; and I think now in Jamaica we are even ahead of some of our other Caribbean counterparts. They have been watching closely too and commending us to know that we have reached this stage now, and now we are looking forward to the drafting now, and the finalisation of this Bill, so that it can be implemented," she said.
She said she was especially pleased with the fact that consultations had taken place on all levels before the bill was passed and that parliamentarians were able to work with other stakeholders to ensure that it was okay.
"I was heartened to see the level of discussions, and the dialogue also that took place even at the parliamentary levels. That showed that there was keen interest in what was happening," she said.
She said while there were reservations on some aspect of the bill, it was able to capture most of the essential issues that Jamaican's had to grapple with.
"I can't say that any piece of legislation is ever fool-proof or perfect and the laws to me are not static. This is why we have a mandate as a country at large to constantly review and to assess, and to analyse and to see what's happening in the law, what's happening in the courts with the piece of legislation, to ensure that if it is not working as it should, what it is that we need to amend," she said.
Former president of Woman Inc and attorney-at-law Dundeen Ferguson, said she was especially pleased with the fact that the Bill dealt with the issue of marital rape, which has been a major concern for persons who worked in gender-related fields.
"In terms of our working with women and the increases in sexual assault against young girls and women who are being abused by their husbands, I think the legislation would work very well," she said.
"We are very happy that it's now coming into law. When you talk about almost 15 years of advocating for amendments to the Incest Punishment Act and amendments to various sections of the Offences against the Persons Act, looking at the central issues regarding women and sexual offences, we are very happy that it has passed," she said of the bill.
Director of the "men's desk" at the BWA, Dave Williams, said he too was in support of the Bill.
"Anything that protects the rights of women, we feel that it is a victory for men as well, because we believe in gender equality, and so if it protects one, then it will protect all. Anything that empowers women, we are happy for that and we welcome that," he said.
Meanwhile, women's activist and chairperson of the Women's Resource and Outreach Centre (WROC), Linnette Vassell believes the legislation was gender neutral. Furthermore, she noted that, "When women's rights are advanced, it provides a wake-up call to men on a whole to allow them to know about what is permissible within the law.
"It is a family law and healthy families mean healthier communities and nations on a whole," she said.
"FINALLY! There are still a few provisions that could have been less restrictive/more liberal but perhaps on a next round when can expect (more) enlightenment. Big up to the Bureau, the women's NGOs, the concerned ministries and individuals who really pushed this through from start to finish.
Now for implementation and monitoring - and training of course - so the work will continue."
- Taitu Heron, manager, Social Development & Gender Unit, Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ)
"Aaaaat laaaast! We have come a long way. Congrats are in order for all who truly hold on to the dream, that one day we will reach the mountain top."
- Lana Finikin, SISTREN Theatre Collective
"Remember that several amendments were made to the Bill by the Senate which now need to be studied carefully. These amendments also mean that the Bill goes back to the House for approval before it is law, therefore the celebrations may be a little too soon."
- Nancy Anderson, IJCHR
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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
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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