Saturday, September 12, 2009
who do we believe?
Is this damage control to take the spectre off the assumption that it is a gay hate crime or that Mr. Terry was indeed gay?
What do you make of it?
(see other posts below and compare)
star news today:
The local police is denying reports made in a British tabloid yesterday that the killing of Honorary Consul in Jamaica, John Terry, this week was a gay hate crime as was indicated by a murder note allegedly found at the scene.
The report in THE SUN headlined: 'Our man in Jamaica killed by gay hater read: "The 65-year-old was found naked with a cord wrapped tightly round his neck. He had been beaten around the head with a heavy object, believed to be the base of a lampÉ A note was beside the body. Police sources revealed yesterday it read: "This is what will happen to all gays."
The report also quoted Deputy Superintendent Michael Garrick of the St James police as saying, "His head and upper body were repeatedly hit."
When THE STAR spoke to the officer yesterday however he denied saying that.
"I have never mentioned anything like that. I spoke to somebody from that paper but nothing as they reported it was said," the policeman declared.
would not be disclosed
He also said that the note found at the scene of the crime had nothing to do with homosexuality. As it relates to the content of that document the officer said that would not be disclosed, as it is a matter of investigation.
The police have identified a major person of interest in the murder and has since developed an electronic sketch of that person.
The man is of slim build, brown complexion (bleached) and is believed to be in his early twenties. He was last seen wearing a brown shirt, brown pants, a brown cap with white on the peak and was said to be carrying a black and grey knapsack.
The police are asking anyone who has seen this individual or who knows of his whereabouts to contact the following numbers; Montego Bay CIB: 953-6191, 684-9080; Crimestop 311 or Operation Kingfish 811.
Reports are that Terry drove home Tuesday night and approximately 1:30 p.m. Wednesday his body was discovered in his room on a bed with a wound to the back of the head. He was also lying in blood. Police say it appeared as if Terry had been beaten.
"As the minister responsible, please use your ministerial discretion to
prevent these musicians from spreading their hatred and calls for violence by barring them from entry into Canada,” Egale asked Kenney.
Though the group is still awaiting a response to its Aug. 6 letter, Beenie Man — a.k.a. 37-year-old Anthony Moses Davis — is scheduled to perform Sunday at the Sunrise Banquet Hall at 1800 Bank St., the third stop in an eight-date Canadian tour that began Friday in Toronto.
“Obviously, he’s in the country, so nothing has been done,” Helen Kennedy, Egale’s executive director, said Friday. “We’re very upset about that.”
Kennedy pointed out that the government quickly banned British MP George Galloway from Canada last March for raising money for Hamas, considered a terrorist organization by Canada.
Yet it continues to issue visas to artists such as Beenie Man even though “we know their lyrics violate our hate-crime laws,” she said.
In an e-mail, a spokeswoman for Citizenship and Immigration Canada said Kenney doesn’t have the legal authority to ban anyone from Canada. Decisions on who is admissible, said Kelli Fraser, are made by visa officers and border agents.
Questionable performers who are admitted to the country are usually required to sign a declaration indicating that they understand that it’s a criminal offence to spread hate and incite violence, Fraser said.
“We are confident that the police will be vigilant in ensuring that appropriate action will be taken if any laws, including the incitement of hatred against an identifiable group, are broken.”
Sgt. Monica Christian, head of the Ottawa police hate crimes unit, said her officers are aware of Beenie Man’s appearance, but have no plans to monitor his performance. “We will certainly deal with any complaints we get from the public, though.”
Christian pointed out that Beenie Man was allowed into Canada, “so obviously Canadian Border Services have no problems with him in the country. He hasn’t as yet committed any crime in Ottawa. Until he does, there’s not a lot we can do.”
Beenie Man is one of the most popular artists in Jamaica. He has a wide following internationally, and won a Grammy for best reggae album in 2000.
But he’s also been accused of inciting the murder of gays and lesbians with the lyrics of some of his songs.
(Eagale quotes from the Ottawa Citizen)
Jamaica: A grim place to be gay
Homophobia was the probable motive for the murder of a British diplomat. Cahal Milmo reports on an island where hate crime is rife
When neighbours of John Terry, the British honorary consul in Jamaica's Montego Bay, were approached by a young man outside his home on Tuesday evening asking for a taxi, they assumed he was just the latest recipient of assistance from the voluntary diplomat who in his three decades on the island had become a pillar of his community.
As well as coming to the aid of hundreds of holidaying Britons, the genteel 65-year-old had served as a magistrate in St James, his well-heeled rural neighbourhood on the outskirts of the country's tourism capital, and worked for a succession of charities, including a support group for the mentally ill.
But a team of detectives were yesterday investigating whether Mr Terry's visitor that night, far from being a beneficiary of the honorary consul's help, was in fact his murderer and a killer driven by the homophobia that plagues the country which the father-of-two had grown to love so much that he made his life there.
From the "murder music" lyrics of reggae stars exhorting the murder of gay men to a member of Jamaica's governing political party who has described homosexuals as "abusive and violent" and called for gay sex to be made punishable by life imprisonment – the Caribbean island has long been beset by what campaigners describe as "institutional homophobia".
And the manner of Mr Terry's death provides harrowing evidence that such prejudice continues to thrive. At lunchtime on Wednesday, the gardener who tended the shrubs outside the New Zealand-born Mr Terry's modest bungalow found his partially clothed body lying on his bloodstained bedroom floor. He had been badly beaten about the head and body, possibly with the base of his bedside lamp, and then strangled with a cord ligature and a piece of clothing left around his neck.
On the bed was a hand-written note which described Mr Terry as a "batty man", derogatory slang for a homosexual. Signed "Gay-Man", it added: "This is what will happen to ALL gays."
Police sources said the note provided other details which could lead to the identification of Mr Terry's killer, adding that the theft of personal items such as his wallet and mobile phone looked like an inept attempt to persuade investigators that robbery was the motive for the attack. More likely, says Deputy Superintendent Michael Garrick, is that "the person who murdered Mr Terry was close to him".
The killing was brutal even by the standards of an island where gang warfare over drugs has earned it the title of one of the world's most murderous nations. If it is proven to have been motivated by hatred of homosexuals, it will be one of the most high-profile and horrific examples yet of what campaigners say is a growing trend for extreme violence against gay people in Jamaica.
Official statistics are hard to come by, but evidence gathered by Amnesty International shows that at least 35 gay men have been murdered in the Caribbean country since 1997. They include Brian Williamson, the co-founder of the country's main gay rights groups, the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG), who was hacked to death with a machete in 2004. A crowd was seen celebrating around Mr Williamson's mutilated body.
In the last 18 months, at least 33 incidents of mob violence against homosexuals have been recorded, including an attack in Montego Bay where three supposedly gay men attending a carnival were chased in the street, and one of them was beaten about the head with a manhole cover. Elsewhere, mobs have gathered outside a gay man's funeral and chased another man to his death off a pier.
Homosexual activity remains a criminal offence in Jamaica, punishable by up to 10 years' imprisonment. Since 2007 Britain, the former colonial power which introduced the island's sodomy laws, has granted asylum to at least five Jamaicans on the grounds that their lives had been threatened because of their sexual orientation.
Michael, a gay man in the Jamaican capital, Kingston, said the prevalence and virulence of anti-gay sentiment in the country had made his coming out as a homosexual an impossibility.
The 24-year-old, who is a member of J-FLAG but has kept his sexuality hidden from even his closest friends and family, told The Independent: "I know people who are called 'batty boy' or other taunts every time they leave home. They live in fear of being attacked. They don't know if today is the day they are going to be set upon and hacked up.
"I could not take that step. My cousins are leading members of a local church where the pastor regularly condemns gays as the devil, as subversives. If anything, we are going backwards as a nation on this issue. You cannot even feel safe reporting things to the police. I have heard too many stories of police standing aside while a gay man gets a beating, or worse. I've heard of gang members shooting a gay man in the street as some sort of rite of passage."
The literal mood music to such violence, according to campaigners, is the mushrooming of lyrics of reggae singers which glorify and lend legitimacy to homophobic sentiments. Among the performers most frequently pointed to as leading the trend is Buju Banton, a singer from one of Kingston's toughest slums, whose 1992 hit, "Boom Bye Bye", boasts of shooting gays with sub-machine guns and burning them with acid.
Another popular performer, Elephant Man, uses one song to say: "When you hear a lesbian getting raped/It's not our fault ... Two women in bed/That's two sodomites who should be dead."
The Stop Murder Music campaign in Britain and North America has brought the issue to international prominence, attempting to apply pressure on Banton and artists including Beenie Man, Sizzla and Bounty Killer, by calling for boycotts of concerts and the withdrawal of sponsorship.
A number of singers, including Beenie Man and Sizzla, have agreed to sign an undertaking not to repeat songs containing lyrics that advocate homophobia, but the effectiveness of the agreement has been brought into question after performers, including Banton, agreed to its sentiments only to then deny ever having made any such a commitment.
The Black Music Council, a UK-based group set up to defend the singers, has accused campaigners of censorship and racism by targeting musicians who are reflecting hardline views on homosexuality held across all ranks Jamaican society, from Christian churches and Rastafarian preachers to the country's parliament.
Certainly, homophobia is openly expressed in the highest echelons. Ernest Smith, an MP for the ruling Jamaica Labour Party, earlier this year used a parliamentary debate to claim that "homosexual activities seem to have taken over this country" and gay men are "abusive, violent". He added that "acts of gross indecency" between consenting gay men should be punishable by sentences of up to life imprisonment and J-FLAG, which does not disclose the location of its offices for fear of attack, should be "outlawed".
Rebecca Schleifer, of Human Rights Watch, said: "Discrimination against people based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation is widespread and entrenched. It is expressed from the pulpit to the schoolroom to the parliament. It is very important that the voices of Jamaicans who suffer this discrimination and are trying to overcome it should be heard. This is not a case of powerful white countries seeking to impose their will and values on Jamaica."
Those who knew Mr Terry, whose wife had separated from him and was living in Kingston with the couple's grown-up son and daughter, confirmed that the hotel industry worker often socialised with other men, but said he had never come out as gay.
Instead, his friends focused on the unstinting decency of a lifelong volunteer in dealing with the problems of others, from Britons with lost passports to impoverished Jamaicans, whom he attempted to assist. Joy Crooks, administrator for the Committee for the Upliftment of the Mentally Ill, said: "It is very sad for us to know that John has passed in such a horrifying way. It is frightening. He was a kind and caring individual and did anything he could to help the less fortunate."
Friday, September 11, 2009
Messages from Equality Ohio and the Stonewall Democrats of Central Ohio are being re-posted on Facebook, denouncing the reggae musician as homophobic for song lyrics that call for the murder of gays.
The Jamaican reggae singer’s music has in the past been blamed for inciting violence against LGBT’s and his 1992 song Boom Bye Bye called for shooting gays with Uzis and burning their skin with acid “like an old tire wheel.”
In June 2004, Banton and a gang of men broke into a house of near Banton’s Kingston recording studio and viciously beat six men he claimed were gay. After complaints from international human-rights groups, Banton was finally charged, but a Jamaican judge eventually dismissed the case for lack of evidence.
Last month concert promoters Live Nation and AEG canceled shows in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Chicago, Las Vegas, Dallas and Houston.
The show, scheduled to take place at Columbus’ LC Lifestyles communities Pavilion on October 3rd is being sponsored by PromoWest Promotions.
Both Equality Ohio and Stonewall Democrats of Central Ohio are encouraging people to call or email Amy Cooper, The Marketing Director at PromoWest Promotions at 614-461-5483 or email@example.com to voice their concerns about this show.
of note at the time of this post the song is still available on YouTube:
UPDATE: September 15, 2010 a full year and plus after the original post the song is still posted on YouTube and all attempts to remove the track it's simply re-uploaded while Buju awaits his trial in a Florida maximum security facility to alleged drug charges.
John Terry, 65, was discovered with a cord and an item of clothing tied around his neck outside his house in Mount Carey on Wednesday.
The British official, who worked as a magistrate on the island and had been appointed MBE in the early 1990s, had also been severely beaten. A trail of bloodstains was found throughout his property.
Last night David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, led tributes to Mr Terry, who was described as a loving father and a key member of the diplomatic team in the Caribbean.
He said: “Honorary consuls like John play a valuable role in our work overseas and this was especially true of John, who helped many, many British visitors to Jamaica over the years.”
Police believe that Mr Terry, who was married but separated from his wife, knew his attacker. There were no signs of forced entry at the property.
However, it is believed that the killer stole his wallet and mobile telephone in an attempt to make it appear as though a robbery had gone wrong. Police would not say whether Mr Terry’s murder was thought to be linked to his work as a Justice of the Peace but they were investigating the possibility that the attack might have been homophobic after a handwritten note on his body described him as a “batty man”, local slang for a homosexual. The note also said: “This is what will happen to ALL gays.” It was signed: “Gay-Man”.
The former hotel manager had worked in the island’s tourism trade for more than 30 years. At the time of his death he was working at the Half Moon Hotel in Montego Bay, a resort popular with British and American tourists.
His murder has shocked diplomats, the business community and the tourism industry on the island. According to sources there, Mr Terry was well known for being highly effective and considerate when dealing with British nationals requiring consular assistance.
Mr Terry, a native of New Zealand, was appointed a Member of the British Empire by the Queen in 1993. He has a brother living in Britain. His estranged wife is believed to live in Kingston, Jamaica.
Les Green, Jamaica’s Assistant Commissioner for Police and a former British police officer, told The Times that he believed Mr Terry knew his killer. “This seems to be somebody who knew John Terry. There were no signs of forced entry. Whoever did this knew John Terry and he would have admitted them to the house.”
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
The news that singer David Brooks aka Mavado will be performing in Guyana comes as a shock after the ban imposed last year by the Minister of Home Affairs in Guyana, and following the trend in other Caribbean countries to reject the violence which is being perpetuated in popular music in the name of Caribbean culture.
It is reported that the lifting of the ban was done because Jamaican cultural officers lobbied President Jagdeo recently. What is not clear, is whether the Jamaican cultural officials have assured President Jagdeo and Presidential Adviser Odinga Lumumba as to whether or not Mavado will be mixing his violent lyrics in his music here in a country which continues to grapple with brutality in all sectors. There has been no release to the public from the promoters of any contractual agreement or financial disincentive for Mavado not to perform any of the pro-violent, sexually-degrading, anti-gay lyrics which resulted in the cancellation of a number of his performances around the Caribbean and the ban in Guyana.
It is neither right nor fitting for the government to enable and facilitate the public promotion of lewd and degrading lyrics linked to violence that characterise this performer’s regrettable repertoire.
Now is the time to walk the talk of the Stamp It Out! Campaign and lead by example in refusing to condone culture and behaviour that encourage and glorify acts of violence and discrimination. We therefore appeal to the better judgement of the President, to maintain the ban on this performer in the public interest, since there has been no indication of any change whatsoever in his tone or style.
We call on all civil minded Guyanese to reject the violence perpetuated by Mavado and his promoters and we call on the sponsors Digicel and Courtney Benn Contracting Services to responsibly allocate their advertising revenue and to examine their own motives and corporate standards for sponsoring the culture of violence.
Mr David Brooks aka Mavado should change his tune! His lyrics are off-key, off limits and they kill Caribbean peoples’ self-respect and dignity. We call on him to reflect and to consider using the stage and the power of entertainment for the greater good of society and for becoming an agent of positive change for our youth instead of a messenger of death and degradation. He should give this a thought, please.
Member of The Caribbean
Coalition for Development and
Reduction in Armed Violence
Commissioner, Women and Gender
Co-Chairperson, Society Against
Sexual Orientation Discrimination
Commissioner, Rights of the Child
Several concerts by reggae artist Buju Banton were recently cancelled in America, amid controversy over notoriously homophobic lyrics which incite the murder of gay people. The cancellation was brought about following a campaign organised via website change.org. Six hundred and fifty people complained to Live Nation, who own the House of Blues venues where Banton was scheduled to perform next week, and his planned shows were scrapped as a result.
But the fight against anti-gay lyrics in rap and reggae music has been going on for some time and this is simply the latest chapter in a tale involving the blurred boundaries around notions of freedom of expression, the right to express personal opinion through music, and what counts as homophobic hate crime with the potential to influence listeners towards a homophobic set of beliefs. While some lyricists argue that their words have been misconstrued and defend their music, there is no doubt that some artists are effectively committing criminal offences with the abusive content of their songs.
The recent pressure for the cancellation of Buju Banton's shows was not the first time that action has been taken against performers who use music as a weapon. In 2003, reggae star Bounty Killer was forced to cancel concerts in Birmingham and London after OutRage! gay rights group spoke out in opposition. They wrote a no-holds-barred letter to the Metropolitan police, urging them to arrest Bounty Killer on charges of inciting violence with his lyrics, which advocate the burning, drowning and stoning of gay men. Police then warned the concert venues' owners that they may be aiding and abetting a criminal offence if the reggae star performed his homophobic lyrics on their premises, and his gigs were duly abandoned. Peter Tatchell, who helped bring about the cancellations said at the time: "Our aim is to make Britain a no-go area for singers who incite violence against gay people and other minorities. We hope this victory will encourage people in other countries to campaign for the cancellation of these singer’s concerts. Hit them in the pocket where it hurts financially. Once they start losing money they’ll soon drop their homophobic lyrics."
Another successful reggae artist, Beenie Man, who has duetted with Janet Jackson amongst others,has also been accused of verbally abusing gay people with his choice of lyrics. Via his music, he has not only expressed his wish to cut the throats of all gay men, but also suggested hanging lesbians with a piece of rope. A planned UK performance in 2004 was cancelled directly due to his lyrics, after he was prevented from entering the country by police. Beenie Man had also been expected to perform at the MTV Music Video Awards the same year, but was dropped from the line-up of possible acts after protests from anti-homophobia campaigners. Fearing that more cancellations might follow, he issued an apology, which was subsequently dismissed by gay groups as insincere. The Stop Murder Music campaign organised a petition entitled the Reggae Compassionate Act, which Beenie Man allegedly signed, and by doing so agreed to stop writing and performing songs with homophobic content. He was praised for this new stance, but later went back on his word by denying that he had ever made the agreement.
Perhaps the most mainstream rapper in the world, Eminem, has also been criticised in the past for his homophobic lyrics. In a song entitled Criminal on his second album, The Marshall Mathers LP, Eminem's lyrics include: “My words are like a dagger with a jagged edge/ That'll stab you in the head, whether you're a fag or lez/ Or the homosex, hermaph or a trans-a-vest/ Pants or dress? Hate fags? The answer's yes”. The fact that much of Eminem's audience is under the age of 18 has called into question how much influence his words could be having on young people. However the rapper has since appeared on stage with Elton John, apparently to dispel rumours of his homophobia.
Censoring artists is always a controversial act, but campaigns like Stop Murder Music and change.org are crucial in helping to police the actions of lyricists whose words have the potiential to wield a great deal of influence amongst listeners. If a person who homophobically abuses or threatens a gay person in the street can be arrested for it, then it is only right to confront musicians whose homophobic abuse reaches hundreds of thousands of people every day.
The word pansexual is derived from the Greek prefix pan-, meaning "all". In its simplest form, pansexuality denotes the potential of sexual attraction to all genders and beings. It is intended to negate the idea of two genders (as expressed by bi-)
The adjective pansexual may also be applied to organizations or events. In this context, the term usually indicates an openness to the involvement of people of all genders and sexual orientations in said organization/event, as well as the pansexual sexual identity.
Pansexuality compared to bisexuality
Bisexuality is a sexual orientation characterized by attraction to both the same gender and the opposite gender. Unlike pansexuality, it does not specifically include people who fall outside the gender binary. Pansexuality has been described as a "means to skip the binaries and essentialism of 'bi'."
However, many people who identify as bisexual are actually attracted to people who fall outside the gender binary. These people, who could be described as pansexual, have a variety of reasons for identifying as bisexual, including widespread unfamiliarity with the term "pansexual" as well as its negative connotations for some people. Some define bisexual as "attraction to people from more than one gender". Others contrast "attraction to people of multiple genders" with pansexuality's "attraction regardless of gender".
The terms third gender and third sex describe individuals who are considered to be neither women nor men, as well as the social category present in those societies who recognize three or more genders.
The state of being neither male nor female may be understood in relation to the individual's biological sex, gender role, gender identity, or sexual orientation. To different cultures or individuals, a third sex or gender may represent an intermediate state between men and women, a state of being both (such as "the spirit of a man in the body of a woman"), the state of being neither (neuter), the ability to cross or swap genders, or another category altogether independent of male and female. This last definition is favored by those who argue for a strict interpretation of the "third gender" concept.
The term has been used to describe Hijras of India and Pakistan, Fa'afafine of Polynesia, and Sworn virgins of the Balkans, among others, and is also used by many of such groups and individuals to describe themselves.
The term "third" is usually understood to mean "other"; some anthropologists and sociologists have described fourth, fifth, and many genders.
Intersexuality in humans refers to (often congenital) intermediate or atypical combinations of physical features that usually distinguish male from female. This is usually understood to be congenital, involving chromosome, morphologic, genital and/or gonadal anomalies, such as diversion from stereotypical XX=female or XY=male presentations, such as sex reversal (XY=female, XX=male), genital ambiguity, sex developmental differences. An intersex organism may have biological characteristics of both the male and female sexes. Intersexuality is the term adopted by medicine during the 20th century applied to human beings whose biological sex cannot be classified as either male or female. Intersexuality is also the word adopted by the identity-political movement, to criticize medical protocols in sex assignment and to claim the right to be heard in the construction of a new one.
Polysexuality refers to people who are attracted to more than one gender or sex but do not wish to identify as bisexual because it implies that there are only two binary genders or sexes. Polysexuals are those people sexually attracted to many different sorts of ideas, races, and characteristics. Polysexuality should not be confused with pansexuality; pan meaning all, and poly meaning many, though not necessarily all.
Polysexuality is a self-identifying term that is somewhat amorphous, as there is a wide variety of different people who use the term to describe themselves.
In effect California is asking the Federal Government to do something about the plight of binational couples, the majority of whom it is believed are from California.
AJR 15 is a Resolution that expresses its support for the Federal bill, UAFA, Uniting American Families Act , introduced in this the 111th Congress by Congressman Jerold Nadler, (D) of New York.
According to Kessler, this will now move to the Senate in January or February of next year. It ought to be a powerful tool from the citizens of California to send a message to our Representatives in Congress to sign as co-sponsors for UAFA and if already signed on, to find a way to move it forward.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Subsequent to reading Peta-Ann Baker's and Dr Heather Little-White's articles (see those articles posted below on this blog) in your Sunday edition on the South African athlete, Caster Semenya, and the phenome-non of persons described as intersex, I did a bit of Internet search and came away asking several questions.
If from India and Pakistan to the Dominican Republic to Europe and the United States, there is evidence of persons being born with physical and hormonal characteristics which do not easily classify them singularly as male or female, then on what basis do so many of us speak definitively and often with arrogance about other people's sexual attractions and proclivities?
Clearly, in many instances, neither human physiology nor hormonal balance is a straight, down the middle male or female phenomenon.
I am in no position to suggest that Semenya is dubious about her sexuality and it may well be true that many practising homosexuals do not have the physical ambiguities of persons classified as intersex. But who are we to say that even where persons do have 'normal' physical characteristics that they may not be 'internally wired' to find attractions 'outside the norm'?
Seems to me we do well to pull back from our arrogant, judgemental attitude and let people be.
I am, etc.,
Monday, September 7, 2009
By Eric Arnold
For the second time in three years, a scheduled San Francisco concert by reggae star Buju Banton has been canceled, under threat of protest by gay and lesbian activist groups. As reported by the Chronicle on Sept. 4, not only is the SF show originally scheduled for the Regency Ballroom a no-go, but concerts in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Chicago, Las Vegas, Dallas and Houston (all at venues operated by AEG/GoldenVoice) have also been nixed.
However, according to a Sept. 3 press release by Tracii McGregor, president of Banton's Gargamel label, more than 30 previously-booked Banton U.S. dates will still happen. And Banton's MySpace page optimistically lists a Oct, 10 SF date, with venue "TBD."
Just as was the case in 2006, when a scheduled Mezzanine show was eventually moved to Berkeley's Shattuck DownLow after LGBT activists threatened to protest the venue, Banton's controversial song "Boom Bye Bye" remains at the center of the storm.
Banton recorded "Boom Bye Bye" seventeen years ago in 1991, at the age of fifteen, reportedly in response to a newspaper headline in a Jamaican paper alleging a case of man/boy rape. Ever since, the song, whose lyrics appear to advocate for the killing of homosexuals, has been a frequent target of gay protests. Anti-Buju activists like the UK's OutRage say "Boom Bye Bye" has contributed to Jamaica's rampant homophobia and fostered a climate of violence against gays and lesbians, which they fear could turn Banton concert-goers into rabid gay-bashing mobs.
McGregor's press release claims that Banton no longer performs the song in concert, adding that the 4-time Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter has an otherwise excellent human rights record. She notes that Banton has made songs condemning gun violence, brought attention to genocide in Sudan, created his own organization to combat AIDS, and has been involved with US-based nonprofits working on behalf of underprivileged youth in Jamaica. Furthermore, she contends that violence of any kind has never broken out at a Banton show.
"None of these personal and professional accomplishments matter much to a gay lobby hell-bent on destroying the livelihood of a man who has spent an entire career making amends," McGregor says, adding, "Sadly, their 17-year fixation on waging war against one artist has prevented them from turning this initiative into a larger, more fruitful discussion that could perhaps effect real change."
While Amnesty International reports have continually documented unsafe conditions for Jamaican gays and lesbians, it's also been reported that "their tormentors are sometimes the police themselves," according to a recent article posted on RepeatingIslands.com.
Further complicating the issue are allegations of racism, cultural insensitivity, and economic exploitation against Jamaican artists. A recent Jamaica Daily Gleaner article accused activist groups like OutRage of xenophobia by targeting reggae artists with their ongoing "Stop Murder Music" campaign, whose cause has been taken up by local activists such at the Community United Against Violence (CUAV), who have successfully prevented Jamaican artists like Capleton and Banton from playing in SF in the past.
The writers two cents: this sounds like a record we've heard before. Homophobia is unfortunate, as is anti-LGBT violence, and should not be tolerated. Yet it's hard to see how targeting reggae artists has had or will have any influence in changing Jamaica's controversial, colonial-era "anti-buggery" law, which makes homosexual acts a crime in that country. The bottom line? Despite almost two decades of organized protests against allegedly-homophobic reggae songs, the law remains on the books.
Sunday, September 6, 2009
President and Chief Executive Officer
Live Nation, Inc.
9348 Civic Center Drive
Beverly Hills, Calif., 90210
Dear Mr. Rapino:
Hopefully, you are aware that Live Nation/House of Blues has booked Buju Banton for a nationwide tour, including a Chicago stop Oct. 1. Banton is one of a handful of performers whose output has been labeled "murder music" for openly advocating the murder of lesbians and gays in the lyrics of their music.
House of Blues has faced protests before against its sponsorship of anti-gay "murder music"; yet, it apparently persists in thinking that LGBT people should "tolerate" those who call for murdering us.
House of Blues/Live Nation would never book Buju Banton or any performer who advocated killing African Americans or Jews, and rightfully so. Why, then, is it okay for House of Blues to hire a musician who calls for murdering lesbians and gays? Why the double standard?
When Live Nation purchased House of Blues several years ago, we wrote to your corporate office asking that reggae dancehall "murder musicians" like Banton not be booked unless and until these performers renounce their past behavior and promise no more murderous lyrics going forward. Banton first signed and then repudiated such an agreement. This is particularly an issue in his native Jamaica, where gays face a living hell due, in part, to performers like Banton who stoke the flames of an already dangerous situation by singing their murderous music.
Perhaps his most notorious "kill gays" song is "Boom, Bye Bye" in which Banton describes shooting "battyman" ( slang for a gay man ) in the head, sometimes with an Uzi, an automatic weapon.
We call upon Live Nation management to do the right thing and cancel the Buju Banton tour. We will credit your company with the appropriate corporate response to irrational and murderous hostility toward lesbian and gay people. Should Live Nation not cancel Banton's tour, you will offer us no alternative but to go forward with plans to protest in as many cities as possible, including Chicago.
Gay Liberation Network
Would Jamaica have added an eighth gold medal to its haul at the recently concluded World Athletics Championships if Caster Semenya had been a Jamaican? Semenya's victory in the Women's 800 metres was called into question because the athletic authorities had requested (demanded?) that she undergo testing to determine her sex.
For many people, the conclusions that they had drawn based on her physical appearance were confirmed by news reports that her body is producing three times the amount of testosterone as the average woman. Semenya is a man!
Here in Jamaica the cartoonists, commentators and talk show hosts have been having a field day. One cartoonist caricatured her name - Si-man-ya! A commentator admits that she might be a woman, but not one that he would take out on a date. (The arrogance of his assumption that she would want to go anywhere with him escapes him of course.) A talk show host shows off his knowledge of Latin to suggest that there might be a subliminal message about her sex in her name: Semen-ya = semen = male.
Given the dominance of conservative religious ideas in Jamaica at the present time, it could be something of a challenge to find people willing to discuss much less accept the idea that defining one's sex is not a simple matter. But an even cursory investigation produces credible information that many societies have long recognised that the binary definition is not appropriate. As Dr S. F. Ahmed, a consultant in paediatric endocrinology at the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Glasgow, Scotland, states, "It is one thing to have a vulva, vagina, clitoris, breasts, ovaries, but it may be quite another thing being female, feminine, or a woman." It seems that we have to acknowledge that there is a continuum of embodiment, and while the majority may tend more to one end or the other, there are those who occupy spaces closer to the middle.
Scholars have identified early creation myths in which a person with neither male nor female sex was created to "serve the King". Ancient Asian and Latin American societies have deities that have both or neither sets of genitalia. Some theologians have suggested that the Ethiopian eunuch whom Phillip encountered was not a man who had been castrated (the common definition of eunuch), but was instead a member of this "third sex". The existence of intersex and transsexual persons in eastern Africa including southern Ethiopia has been documented.
But persons of ambiguous sex are not just the subject of myth or scriptural exegesis. In recent times, occupants of this space between male and female have been identified in countries as diverse as India which has millions of such persons called the Hijra; in Samoa where the Fa'afafine (featured in a recent BBC documentary) seemingly male children are raised as females and perform domestic roles in the family. Here in the Caribbean, there are the Guevedoche of the Dominican Republic. These persons appear female at birth, but with the onset of puberty develop male organs. Many continue to identify as female.
What we do not realise is that every year intersex children are born here in Jamaica. What we also do not sufficiently appreciate is that being intersex is only one of several distinctions that exist in the fields of sex, gender and sexual orientation, that these three are separate constructs and that science cannot definitively say what makes us 'male' or 'female', nor what determines same or other sex attraction.
If the ambiguity is evident at birth or in early childhood, surgery and possibly hormone therapy are routinely provided. If the ambiguity emerges later in life, such as happens in the Dominican Republic similar actions might be taken. Some girls having undergone surgery go on to form heterosexual relationships and bear children. But reports from other countries indicate that the result of sexual assignment surgery is not always positive. In some instances the child comes to adulthood with a different gender identity to that assigned by doctors (who intervened based on what they found to be the dominant characteristics). It is not easy to undo that which has been done in early childhood, especially if male genitalia have been removed. Interestingly, it seems as if the female is the "default" version for all of us; male characteristics only emerge several weeks into the development of the foetus.
Perhaps even more painful is the experience of those children who are born with these characteristics who are locked away at home because of their parents' shame, fear or desire to protect them from the prying eyes of a gossipy and superstitious community. A lack of understanding makes them objects of derision when they emerge in public. Some play on the public's voyeuristic tendencies and earn a living by exhibiting themselves.
What is sure is that there are very few persons in Jamaica competent to provide information and advice to parents and young persons facing these issues. The ethical question of the child's right to participate in decision-making about such a life changing matter - which implies at least delaying surgery, does not appear to have become part of the discourse even among this small group of professionals, and the early surgical intervention approach seems to predominate.
I wonder if Senator Hyacinth Bennett was aware of any of this when she demanded that the new Sexual Offences Bill give no protection from rape and any other form of sexual assault to persons who have had sex-change operations. One would have expected an educator to demonstrate some minimal understanding of the complexity of the issues of sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
Even if we disapprove of a particular set of sexual behaviours, those who occupy positions of leadership need to be careful that these opinions do not result in a failure to ensure that we act on the basis of factual information rather than on the basis of prejudice or belief.
This is particularly important in light of the fact that those who for whatever reason appear to be other than 'normal' are among the ones most likely to be subject to violence, including sexual violence.
Given the foregoing, it is unlikely that if Caster Semenya were Jamaican, we would have added an eighth gold medal to our tally. The news reports state that her parents affirm that she was raised as a girl although she was always considered a 'tomboy'. Can you imagine a similar Jamaican child's parents being willing to be interviewed in the national and international press? Even if they were not ashamed of their child, they would be fearful of the backlash from their community and would therefore remain silent.
It will be interesting to see what happens if the authorities determine that Semenya is in fact more male than female, and that this is due to no conscious action on her part or on the part of those associated with her athletic career. Producing more testosterone than usual for a woman is not a definitive sign of masculinity by the way, since it is possible for the body to produce this hormone but not be able to use it. The International Association of Athletics Federations had abandoned the wholesale use of sex verification tests in 1991 because it realised that they were not completely reliable.
A recent edition of Sports Illustrated on-line reports that in a similar case an athlete who had lived her life as a woman, but who was stripped of the medal she won at the 2006 Asian games, tried to commit suicide.
In the meantime, rather than going home in shame, as would probably have been the case were she Jamaican, Caster Semenya returned to the warm embrace of family, village and nation. What she does from here on remains to be seen.
All this should not be surprising since South Africa is the first country in the world to provide constitutional protection from discrimination for persons of different sexual orientations and is reported to be willing to grant asylum to persons who fear persecution on the grounds of sex, gender or sexual orientation. Gender reassignment surgery is available and openly performed, and people are able to change their personal documents, e.g., passports, to reflect a change in sex. While community attitudes are not always approving, South African legislators had the moral courage to recognise the legitimate rights of all its citizens.
Peta-Anne Baker is the co-ordinator of the Social Work Programme at the University of the West Indies, Mona. firstname.lastname@example.org.
The controversy over Caster Semenya, who won the 800-metre race in the recent World Championships in Athletics, in Berlin, Germany, and the request by the authorities for a gender verification, brings into sharp focus the elements of the human sexes.
One common stereotyped assessment of male versus female by the common man is penis equals male and no penis equals females. Later, add breasts to better define females at first glance compared to men. Facial features and voice further help to identify the sexes.
Each sex has a unique reproductive system which influences their sexuality and reproductive capabilities designed to transport the egg or the sperm. The female reproductive system is located entirely in the pelvis. If one were to examine the female, there are distinctive elements to differentiate male from female. The external part is known as the vulva, meaning 'covering' for the vagina and other reproductive organs inside the pelvic area.
The mons pubis is the fleshy area just above the top of the vaginal opening.
The labia are the two flaps of skin (lips) surrounding the opening to the vagina.
The clitoris is a small organ with a bundle of nerves located toward the front of the vulva where the folds of the labia join.
Between the two lips (labia) are openings to the urethra and the vagina. Contrary to what many people think, including females who do not know their own bodies, the urethra is the canal that transports urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. Urine does not come through the vagina.
The internal reproductive organs of the female include the vagina, uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. The vagina is a hollow tube made up of muscles and extends from the opening to the uterus, running three to five inches long. The muscles in the vagina allow the vagina to expand and contract during intercourse and childbirth. The walls of the vagina are lined with mucous membrane to keep it moist and protected.
A thin sheet of tissue called the hymen, with one or two holes, partially covers the opening of the vagina. The hymen is different from one female to another. Most females may stretch or tear the hymen during their first sexual experience and the hymen may bleed slightly. However, some women who have had sex do not experience much change in their hymens.
The vagina connects to the uterus or the womb at the neck of the womb or cervix which has thick, strong walls. The uterus which is only about three inches long and two inches wide, has thick lining and strong muscular walls that expand and contract to accommodate a growing foetus and to help push the baby out during delivery.
At the upper corners of the pear-shaped uterus are the fallopian tubes, about four inches long with a tiny passageway as wide as a piece of spaghetti. When the ovary releases an egg, it enters the fallopian tube and is propelled toward the uterus. The ovaries or gonads produce the female hormones, oestrogen and progesterone.
When a baby girl is born, her ovaries contain hundreds of eggs which stay inactive until puberty. At puberty, the pituitary gland in the brain starts to produce hormones that stimulate the ovaries to produce female sex hormones, including oestrogen, which develops a girl into a sexually mature woman.
During puberty, girls begin their monthly period and release an egg as part of the menstrual cycle. Approximately once a month, during ovulation, an ovary sends a tiny egg into one of the fallopian tubes. If the egg is not fertilised by a sperm while in the fallopian tube, it dries up and leaves the body about two weeks later through the uterus with a flow of blood and tissues from the inner lining of the uterus. This is the menstrual flow which may last three to five days. A girl's first period is called menarche.
When the sperm meets an ovum (egg), an embryo is formed and acquires chromosomes which will determine the sex of the child - XX for female and XY for male. After about six weeks of pregnancy, ovaries develop in females and testes develop in males. Abnormalities in development may be caused by genital defects or hormonal imbalances in the uterus. For example, if the female does not start producing oestrogen, there may be physical defects in the female like a vagina and no uterus.
An XX girl may be exposed to high levels of testosterone in the womb which could lead to the development of an enlarged clitoris or a small penis. If there is an extra X or Y chromosome, sexual differentiation may be difficult. Children may have genitalia 'in between' or resemble parts of either sex. If males do not start producing testosterone, abnormalities may result and they may not develop a penis and may resemble a girl even with the XY chromosome.
Hormonal abnormalities may occur as a girl develops to womanhood. Dr Mark Hill, writing in UNSW Embryology, a publication of the University of New South Wales, describes human genital abnormalities as 'Disorders of Sex Development' (DSD) and includes chromosomal, gonadal dysfunction, tract abnormalities, external genitalia and gonadal descent. The previous human sex development terminology for abnormalities such as intersex, psuedohermaphroditism, hermaphrodites and sex reversal are outdated and stigmatising and should be classified as DSD.
If the physical features (such as facial hair, ripped muscles, masculine demeanour) of a female places doubt as to her sex, a sex test or gender verification test can be done to authenticate the sex. The question, why not just a physical, strip test to check the genitals? The answer is gender verification test is necessary because 'gender' goes beyond genitals with hormones playing a huge role in defining sex.
Sex hormones tests measure levels of the sex hormones, including oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Sex hormone tests are ordered to determine if secretion of these hormones is normal. Several different types of tests are used to evaluate the different sex hormones to help diagnose problems or disorders, and to monitor pregnancy.
To determine 'femaleness', testosterone levels are ordered to evaluate ambiguous sex characteristics which places doubt as to whether the person is female or male. Testosterone stimulates sperm production (spermatogenesis) and influences the development of male secondary sex characteristics.
Overproduction of testosterone in females, caused by ovarian and adrenal tumours, can result in masculinisation, the symptoms of which include cessation of the menstrual cycle known as amenorrhoea, imbalance of masculine features and excessive growth of body hair (hirsutism) (www.lifesteps.com).
Sex testing or gender verification is done on sportswomen who look like or perform as men. According to The Times, 'suspect athletes' will have their external appearance assessed by experts who will test their sex hormones, genes and chromosomes. According to DollyMix, all these tests sound pretty humiliating to say the least, but it does raise the question: how can it be so hard to tell? (http://www.dollymix.tv/)
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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