Saturday, September 26, 2009
“”The message is that gay people's lives are cheap, and that harming gay people is OK," said Nadine Smith, executive director of Equality Florida, a statewide gay-rights group calling for the concert to be canceled. "Any time a message of violence and hatred against any group is put out there, it has to be challenged."
Banton, with homes in Tamarac and Jamaica, could not be reached for comment. His South Florida promoter, Andrew Minott of Global Vybz Entertainment, says Banton, 36, stopped singing Boom Bye Bye years ago.
"He did that song they're referring to when he was 15 years old," Minott said. "The song was forgotten about. Because they are making it a big issue, it's come to the forefront. Let sleeping dogs lie."
A YouTube video, however, shows Banton singing Boom Bye Bye during a May 2006 concert at Bicentennial Park in downtown Miami.
Minott said non-Jamaicans often misunderstand the lyrics of reggae performers like Banton and Beenie Man.
"It's a dance hall phrase, `Let's murder him. Murder the boy over there,' '' Minott said. "It's not literal. It's figurative."
Minott has paid a $3,000 deposit to rent the city-owned James L. Knight Center in downtown Miami for the Oct. 31 concert. Scheduled to share the bill with Banton: Beenie Man, whose song titles include [Batty Man Fi Dead] Queers must be killed. Amid similar protests in 2004, MTV bounced Beenie Man from a concert during the Video Music Awards in Miami.
Last month, concert promoters Live Nation and AEG canceled a Banton tour with stops in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Chicago, Las Vegas, Dallas and Houston after the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center launched a Facebook campaign against the singer.
"Thousands of people have responded with e-mails and calls. It has shot around the Internet," said Smith, adding that shows have also been called off in Tampa, Orlando and Tallahassee.
C.J. Ortuño, executive director of SAVE Dade, the county's largest gay-rights group, said he wants the Miami performance to be canceled, too.
"We're working with a couple of groups to find out why a city-owned property is allowing a musician that actually promotes, and creates, hate music," he said.
A Miami assistant city attorney said the city must allow Banton to perform because of his First Amendment right, just as Cuban dance band Los Van Van were permitted to play the old Miami Arena in 1999. Thousands protested outside the arena that night.
Banton allegedly signed the Reggae Compassionate Act in The UK which bound him to not performing the infamous song anywahere in the world, he has since broken the agreement.
Banton was charged with helping beat six gay men in Jamaica in 2004. A judge dismissed the case for lack of evidence. In 2007, Banton signed the Reggae Compassionate Act, in which he pledged to stop singing songs preaching hate against gays.
He later denied signing the statement -- which bears the signature of Mark Myrie, his legal name.
Earlier this week, Toyota of Hollywood told three of its car salesmen to withdraw their support of the concert. The men hoped to meet prospective customers at the show, said Clifton Budhan, one of the three.
"Instead of getting calls from people who need to buy cars, I got calls from people saying we need to pull out of it," Budhan said.
By withdrawing their sponsorship, Budhan and the other salesmen lost "a substantial amount of money," he said.
“I'm just trying to put my name out there," Budhan said. "I thought it was going to be OK to advertise. But I got calls from people that we are sponsoring people being killed in the United States and England."
Minott said gay activists threatened to picket Toyota of Hollywood if the salesmen didn't withdraw their support.
"Everyone is so scared of the financial retribution," Minott said. "Leave all judgment up to God. Read the Bible. I'm a Christian. If a man lay with a man, you can fill in the blank."
He says the gay activists are "being very unfair'' to the singer.
"What happened to our First Amendment rights, freedom of speech?" Minott said.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Find more videos like this on GLBTQ Jamaica LINKUP
Jamaica may be one of the most violently homophobic societies in the world. This piece explores the dark side of Jamaica's culture of anti-gay violence and attitudes and explores the ideological beliefs that perpetuate it.
This video is part of a global conversation about HIV/AIDS, stigma, secrecy and homophobia. Join the conversation and tell us your story at:
Produced and Directed by Micah Fink
Correspondent: Lisa Biagiotti
Director of Photography: Gabrielle Weiss
Editor Gabrielle Weiss
Produced in association with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and Worldfocus
With support from the M-A-C AIDS Fund
Also see the audio posts also hosted on GLBTQJA's NING membership page
Find more music like this on GLBTQ Jamaica Members' LINKUP
The accused, who was charged with unlawful wounding, explained in great detail that he "perceived danger" from the complainant and attacked him in self defense.
slapped with machete
He told the court he was in the Kingston Mall in the downtown area, when the complainant started making jokes and saying he was a homosexual.
The complainant, however, told the court: "We had a little dispute. I was there with my friends running a little joke."
He was stopped in his explanation by Resident Magistrate Judith Pusey, however ,who asked him what kind of joke.
When asked again, he said laughing, "We were just running out 'whadeva' joke." Still perplexed, the RM asked him to explain. He said, "Me and my gay friends were down by the mall running our joke."
He said the accused attacked him with a machete and slapped him across the back.
Sorry if I missed out on this, so many things happening here but yesterday September 23 was Bisexuality Day's 10th Anniversary. Here is a piece from Pink News on it.
People around the world have marked the tenth anniversary of the Celebrate Bisexuality Day, an annual event intended to demarginalise the bisexual community.
Launched by American bisexual rights activists Wendy Curry, Michael Page and Gigi Raven Wilbour, the campaign sought to draw the community out alongside the rest of the LGBT concepts after fears of its greater marginalisation.
One of the original activists said: "Ever since the Stonewall rebellion, the gay and lesbian community has grown in strength and visibility. The bisexual community also has grown in strength but in many ways we are still invisible.
"I too have been conditioned by society to automatically label a couple walking hand in hand as either straight or gay, depending upon the perceived gender of each person."
Events in aid of Celebrate Bisexuality Day have taken place in America, Canada, Australia and the United Kingdom displaying the Bi Pride flag designed by Page.
State of our justice system ... in real terms - Concrete chunk falls from second floor of Supreme Court building
A part of the blown-out ceiling fell on one of the cops.
The Supreme Court building on King Street, downtown Kingston. (Observer file photo)
The incident occurred around midday at the entrance to the Number 6 courtroom where the cops were waiting for the cases in which they were involved to be called up.
"I just heard a loud bang and the ceiling caved in and some of the debris crashed on his head," said Corporal Garnett Shand of the Centre for Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse, pointing to his colleague Sergeant C McLoud of the Hunts Bay Police Station.
"The Bulk of it missed him by inches," said a startled Shand. "This is hazardous. You can come to court and get your death. The policeman narrowly escaped death today."
A shaken McLoud was thankful that he was not harmed.
"If I had been sitting like this," said McLoud while demonstrating by leaning forward, "Mi head would a lick off."
Yesterday's incident is not the first of its kind at the Supreme Court. About two years ago a chuck of concrete broke off in the jury room and crashed onto a couch, frequently used by jurors and other court workers. In another incident, another piece of falling concrete badly damaged an item of furniture.
The aging Supreme Court building, located on King Street, downtown Kingston, recently underwent multimillion-dollar refurbishing.
One concerned worker yesterday called for an audit of the work done, while another said that the ceiling should be removed and the concrete above checked for fault.
"What they need to do is remove all the ceilings and check the concrete because a loose piece could be over our heads now," said the worker, who asked not to be named.
There was no comment from the Supreme Court's administration.
The Observer newspaper was, however, informed that structural engineers will be called in to check the entire building for faults.
This also represents to me the state of affairs in our so called justice system generally where cases languish in court, witnesses are n't properly protected, other court houses islandwide are also in a bad conditions or worse and have had to be closed, not to mention the cost overruns and faulty construction of the brand new unopened court house in Port Antonio.
The bungling mess presently in the new Computerised ID parade system (UK funded) where no gazzetted legislation is present however it was lauched on a "go ahead" legal opinion now being reversed with more than 53 cases that require ID parades to proceed now on hold and the suspects rights more or less being held to ransom.
As a popular talk show house says "Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold, mere anarchy is loose open the world"
(parts of this post are from the Observer article by Paul Henry 24.09.09)
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
The decision to have a peaceful demonstration outside the Hilton came only weeks after a member of the lgbt community was attacked and drag outside the hotel from members of the security team, for not having enough money to pay for the dinner he ordered.
On August 7, 2009 a board member of The OUTWEEKLY group, was stopped, verbally harassed and asked to leave the Hotel because he was perceived to be a homosexual. “The Hotel don’t have enough water for u fishes” (there is no space at the hotel for homosexuals), “its time we start killing out you faggots, too much of you guys now.” Say members of the security team.
This marks the latest campaign brought against the Hotel, with letter writing, text sending and “the snow ball technique,” we where able to see a reduction in visit from members of the lgbt community. If our letters remain unanswered by management at the Hilton Hotel, we will be force to take more drastic measures in dealing with homophobia at the Hilton.
Writing letters to the Jamaica Tourist Board and the Ministry of Tourism, picketing events and promoter who choose the Hilton Hotel to have there events and business meetings are some of the steps we are going to take against the Hotel.
The Campaign aims to create an atmosphere free from discrimination and fear, to promote love and understanding for everyone who decides to visit or stay at the Hiltons regardless of sexual orientation.
posted with permission - Outweekly Jamaica
Some single-sex environments that frequently become venues for situational homosexuality include prisons, military bases, ships at sea, convents and monasteries, athletic teams on tour, and boarding schools and colleges. Situational homosexual behavior is so common in these venues that in some cases nicknames have been created for those who indulge in it; for example "rugger-buggers" on rugby teams, "jailhouse turnouts" in prisons, and "lugs" for "lesbians until (college) graduation."
The idea of situational same-sex sexual activity is not a modern one. An essay by Josiah Flynt, published in 1899, told of situational sex among the male American hobos with whom he traveled. From the armies of Alexander the Great to the trenches of World War I to Desert Storm, male soldiers have taken comfort in each other's arms; and from harems to convents to boarding schools, women who were forcibly separated from men have been finding each other for centuries.
Situational homosexual experience can range from the frightening, such as prison rape and sexual domination, to the comfortable, such as the lesbian experimentation that occurs within the relative safety of a college campus.
Sometimes called "behavioral bisexuality," the concept of situational homosexuality is a complex one. At its heart is the notion that the participants in same-sex sexual activity would not have done so were it not for their unusual situation and that they therefore are not really homosexual.
Since gay identity and life style are neither approved nor accepted by most societies, it is difficult to determine accurately the reason behind an individual's choice of heterosexual identification. While someone might insist that he or she chooses to be straight, it is impossible to know how much social pressure may be affecting that decision. Likewise, bisexuality is often disapproved by both gay and straight society, and bisexuals may be pressured to "choose" one sexual preference or another.
The question, thus, remains whether those who engage in situational homosexuality might be more generally bisexual if bisexuality were a more socially accepted choice.
Moreover, the concept of situational homosexuality raises other questions as to what extent sexual behavior expresses internal needs and desires and to what extent it is a response to external circumstances.
The Relationship of Situational Homosexuality to Homophobia
In many cultures, situational homosexuality is tolerated, while homosexuality as a life style is not.
Some social analysts believe that the concept of situational homosexuality is used to reinforce
homophobia and biphobia by allowing those who perform homosexual acts in same-sex environments to continue to define themselves as heterosexual.
Often participants in same-sex activity in single-sex environments are differentiated between "true homosexuals" and those who retain the assumption of heterosexuality. In such cases, it is usually the "true homosexuals" who are stigmatized, while their partners are not. In making such a distinction, homophobia is reinforced even as same-sex sexual activity may be tolerated.
Although situational homosexuality is often both tacitly expected and to some degree tolerated, it is also expected to remain clandestine. When such homosexual activity is made public, even in venues where virtually everyone knows it is happening, punishment is usually swift and severe, though often the brunt of punishment is borne by the participant who is considered the "true homosexual" rather than the presumably heterosexual partner who ostensibly participates in same-sex activity only because of his or her situation.
the letter reads
Jamaicans homophobic? That's a lie!
The Editor, Sir:
I write in response to an article which appeared in your September 16 edition, written by attorney-at-law Gordon Robinson under the heading, 'Is this governance? Or is it the Guy Lombardo show?'
One has to express agreement with Robinson regarding what could appear to be delay on the part of the Government in the matter of dealing with a current extradition request. In the interest of transparency and good governance, the Government ought to provide the nation with such details, as are possible, in the circumstances at the appropriate time.
Fanning the flames
In the very same article, Robinson accused the prime minister of fanning "the flames of violence against homosexuals". This is a dangerous strategy as it means that those of us who dare to speak out against this and other moral wrongs run the risk of being tagged with crimes for which we bear no responsibility, directly or indirectly. Whoever murdered John Terry, irrespective of the motive, must be brought before the courts and tried. The same goes for all other murders.
Note, however, how powerful the homosexual lobby is. They have managed to change the meaning of certain words to suit their agenda, including the words 'gay' and 'homophobic'. Young people reading historical records of individuals who lived decades ago, and who were described as 'gay' in their own lifetimes, will have only one understanding of that adjective in relation to that individual.
So it is that Robinson and others would like us to accept that we are a 'homophobic' people. Don't accept that label Jamaicans! We are a people who are taking a principled stance in relation to the homosexual lifestyle. That does not make us homophobic! However, as a people we would go further and apply this principled stand to other areas of sexual conduct!
Robinson and I can, however, agree on at least one thing, that is that the law must take its course in regards to both the matter of Terry's murder and also in regard to the matter of the current extradition request.
I am, etc.,
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
CASTER SEMEYA or BUJU BANTON??
The next time Buju Banton sells an online download of “Boom Bye-Bye,” will he spare a thought for Caster Semenya?
Caster Semenya, as the whole world has learned, is the young South African runner whose privacy was recently violated when her medical records were leaked to the media. The nation of South Africa has honorably rushed to her defense, as various international sporting rivals appear ready to attack her for having some male traits, a situation sometimes called intersex.
Ms. Semenya is a beautiful part of the human spectrum, and deserves nothing less than the freedoms of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
I hope and believe that she will achieve that. But my heart is heavy because I know that around the world many people just like Caster Semenya will end up assaulted, attacked, battered, bashed, abused, beaten and yes sometimes killed because they’re different.
The batty boys that Buju Banton fantasizes about murdering in his controversial song “Boom Bye-Bye” often look not much different than Caster Semenya. They might be intersex or gay, lesbian, all-sexual, transgender, or whatever other word you might want to use to describe their part of the human rainbow.
That violence takes a terrible toll on my brothers and sisters. Literally thousands of them have been killed in my home country, the United States. I mourn our martyr Brian Williamson, the murdered head of Jamaica’s J-Flag group. My blood runs cold thinking of the two young men who were hanged in Iran.
It is genocide. There is genocide in Darfur, and genocide across the globe as these beautiful people are targeted for death because of who they are.
And what role does Boom Bye-Bye play in the genocide of sexual minorities in our world today? Who knows? But Boom Bye-Bye has emerged as history’s most notorious call to kill queers. It has achieved iconic status. Its message of shooting, burning with acid, and setting on fire batty boys has been sung and heard millions and millions of times.
And Mr. Banton still makes money from that message by selling it online. That’s not a youthful mistake, or something in the past. That’s selling the glorification of genocide so a pop star can get even richer.
I have rarely been as impressed with a country as I have been by the passion and compassion the nation of South Africa has shown in its defense of its daughter Ms. Semenya. They are blessed that Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Tutu overthrew the British colonial “Buggery” laws and made sure that nation’s constitution protected the rights of all sexualities—from Batty boys to Caster Semeya.
Buju Banton has made pretty clear with his media statements that he doesn’t care what I--a gay man just trying to live my life—think. Whatever.
But I hope Mr. Banton can spare a thought for Caster Semenya and all her brothers and sisters around the world.
Because I hope and believe that if he does, Mr. Banton will either stop selling that song—or perhaps begin to undo the damage he’s done by making very clear publicly that no one should be bash and kill the world’s sexual minorities.
Photo taken at a meeting of Jamaica's underground gay church, known as the Sunshine Cathedral, which holds clandestine meetings several times a month.
How AIDS became a Caribbean Crisis
Widespread homophobia has intensified the epidemic in Jamaica, where the HIV infection rate is an astounding 32 percent among gay men.
by Micah Fink
We may be accustomed to thinking of AIDS as most rampant in distant parts of the world like Africa, India, and South Asia. But these days the epidemic is flaring up a bit closer to home, in the Caribbean. Indeed, AIDS is now the leading cause of death among adults there, and the Caribbean’s rate of new infections is the second highest in the world, following just behind Sub-Saharan Africa.
A major factor in the region’s susceptibility to the epidemic is its pervasive atmosphere of homophobia, which makes education and outreach efforts nearly impossible. Jamaica, which lies near the middle of the Caribbean and, as of last year, was found to have an astounding 32 percent HIV infection rate among gay men, offers a case study in how anti-gay attitudes have helped spread and intensify the epidemic’s impact.
In Jamaica, homophobic attitudes are reflected in everything from laws that criminalize anal sex, to the lyrics of popular dancehall music that celebrates the murder of gay men, to widespread acts of anti-gay violence, and a gay culture of sexual secrecy and high-risk behavior. Each of these factors is intensified by a religious context that defines homosexuality as a mortal sin and points to the Bible for moral justification in violently rejecting the concerns of the gay community.
According to Dr. Robert Carr, widely recognized as one of the world’s leading researchers on cultural forces and the unfolding of the AIDS pandemic, local awareness of the disease was initially shaped by the international media: “AIDS was seen as a disease of gay, White, North American men. And people were really afraid of it.”
“There were no treatments available in the Caribbean at the time,” he says, “so AIDS really was a death sentence. You had people with Kaposi's sarcoma, people with violent diarrhea, who were just wasting away and then dying in really horrible and traumatic ways.” The terror induced by these deaths, combined with an already intense local culture of homophobia to produce a violent backlash. “To call what was going on here ‘stigma and discrimination’ was really an understatement,” he says. “In the ghettos they were putting tires around people who had AIDS and lighting the tires on fire. They were killing gay people because they thought AIDS was contagious. It was a very extreme environment, and really horrible things were happening.”
Jamaican male sexual identity, and Caribbean male identity more broadly, has long been defined in opposition to homosexuality. “A lot of Jamaican men, if you call them a homosexual, the term is “battyman,” will immediately get violent,” says Dr. Kingsley Ragashanti Stewart, a professor of anthropology at the University of the West Indies. “It’s the worst insult you could give to a Jamaican man.”
Dr. Stewart, who works with young men from the ghettos and himself grew up in a poor inner-city community, says that homophobia influences almost every aspect of life. It has even come to shape the everyday language of ghetto youth. “It’s like if you say, ‘Come back here,’ they will say, ‘No, no, no don’t say ‘come back’.’ You have to say ‘come forward,’ because come back is implying that you’re ‘coming in the back,’ which is how gay men have sex.”
Dr. Stewart says that the word “fish,” the current slang for “gay,” has become so sexually charged that many young people say “sea-creature” to avoid any compromising linguistic associations. And young men from the ghettos will go to great lengths to avoid saying the number “two.” “It’s become associated with going to the toilet (as opposed to ‘number one’),” and hence, by an almost magical association, with homosexuality. The principal of a large public school in Kingston confirmed this phenomenon, noting that teaching mathematics is particularly problematic when the majority of students refuse to use one of the cardinal numbers.
Then there is the criminalization of the “abominable act of buggery,” as anal sex is defined in Jamaican Law, and which is punishable with up to ten years hard labor. “The reality in Jamaica is that men who have sex with men, for fear of being prosecuted and being found guilty under the sodomy law, pretend that they’re not gay,” says Miriam Maluwa, the UNAIDS country representative for Jamaica, explaining how what she calls “legalized discrimination” has driven the HIV epidemic underground. “[Gay men] marry fairly rapidly, they have children fairly rapidly to regularize themselves, and that is really a ticking bomb. So we are really talking about this targeted group, having quite high levels of infections, which is interacting sexually with the general population.”
Experts are increasingly convinced that getting AIDS under control here will require putting out not just general public health messages to the whole population, but targeted ones, directed at those most at risk. “A good starting point,” Maluwa suggests, “would be to openly design programs [for the gay population], just like we have programs to address the general population, to address children.” And these programs, she contends, should come complete with “adequate commodities, such as lubricants and condoms.”
But the social and political environment makes such targeted public health assistance nearly impossible—in part because the gay community is afraid to come forward to receive it, and in part because the (frequently violent) intolerance gays face makes AIDS a relatively less pressing concern.
At AIDS Support For Life, a not-for-profit health and advocacy group based in Kingston, Jamaica’s capital city, I spoke with staff and patients, including one handsome young gay Jamaican man in his early twenties who told me how his boyfriend was stabbed to death on the street for being gay – and how another close friend was locked inside his parents house by a crowed of homophobic neighbors and burned alive.
“If it were AIDS that were killing us,” he said, “I would use a condom. But it’s people, not AIDS, that is killing us. AIDS has nothing to do with it.”
Find more videos like this on GLBTQ Jamaica LINKUP
Find more videos like this on GLBTQ Jamaica LINKUP
Find more videos like this on GLBTQ Jamaica LINKUP
Monday, September 21, 2009
A police source however said that there is a drive afoot to clamp down on wind-shield wipers, pimps, ganja sellers, phone card sellers, prostitutes and dope dealers on the streets who peddle their wares illegally or try to solicit business openly.
In the drive to do so the cops seem to be employing a very hard handed approach to this.
Thursday September 17, at around 11pm two males known to some in our community were accosted and searched randomly by three officers who all had m16 guns drawn and using expletives at the men, they were overhead accusing them of being battybois, when the young men protested and said they weren't the cops asked then why were they in that particular area. The area in question is a known strip for commercial sex activities carried out by predominantly females.
The following night another set of guys this time, one who is known to be struggling after he was threatened in his rural community of his birth to leave as he was a faggot, he now resides in Kingston as a drifter were also searched, hit over the head with a baton and harassed vigorously by the lawmen.
While I can appreciate the need to rid the streets of the negative elements, randomly targeting males and accusing them of being battybois is not my idea of how to go about it, I had thought we were leaving that kind of behaviour behind with the small progress made under this new police administration with police community relations and lgbt people, we were beginning to see positive signs of properpolice conduct towards gays, one tiny step forward, three big steps back it seems, the other part to this equation is what can be done to provide safe houses or shelter for these homeless gays.
The gay community itself loathes and fears taking in any of them in as persons feel they can't be trusted as others who have been assisted but erred have made it bad due to breaking the trust extended to them by stealing and other awful happenings.
As it stands there is very little in the way of interventions for this most vulnerable grouping. Can anyone help or suggest how we can begin to tackle this eyesore on our landscape and redeem these young males before they fall through the cracks and either end up dead, become drug addicts or perpetrators of violent crimes.
Help or suggestions anyone!
Homeless MSMs in Jamaica
Gay Party DVD Reveller on the Run
Guard admits exposing himself
Published on: 9/15/2009.
IT IS FORBIDDEN, a Muslim revealed yesterday, for a man of that religion to expose from his navel to his knee in public.
But that is exactly what Shiraj Raja was doing, in addition to some other things in their month of Ramadan, when an island constable caught him at Hilton Beach on Sunday.
Raja, 26, a security guard of Kensington New Road, St Michael, was in the District "A" Magistrates' Court yesterday, where he admitted wilfully, openly, lewdly and obscenely exposing himself on Hilton Beach, a place of public entertainment.
"I was sitting down on the beach and a man get out of a car and asked me to do that," Raja said.
However, it was the facts of the case that left the court abuzz.
Prosecutor Acting Station Sergeant Junior Kirton revealed that an island constable was patrolling the beach around 10 a.m. when he saw Raja and another man behaving suspiciously.
The island constable watched as the unknown man and Raja engaged in oral sex before masturbating.
He shouted at them and they ran off, but Raja was subsequently caught.
"I am speechless and I am not usually lost for words," Magistrate Pamela Beckles said.
Hours later Raja's surety, also a member of the Muslim community, told the court: "I feel he's got problems.
"This is a shock for the Muslim community [that] in the blessed month of Ramadan he is doing something like this."
The surety further explained that Raja was also the first person to get divorced in their community. He had been married all of three months.
"I will fine him and let your community deal with him," Magistrate Beckles told the surety. "But get some counselling for him."
The magistrate fined him $1 000 by September 25 or six months in jail.
The magistrate also released him with a surety of $1 500 until September 25.
Jamaican Prime Minister Supports Outdated Laws
We find it astonishing that he does not look around and see what those laws have wrought. Criminalizing homosexuality plays a major role in the AIDS epidemic. He knows this, but continues undeterred, harming Jamaica’s citizens and besmirching its international reputation. This is reprehensible behaviour for a head of government.
Two of us from AIDS-Free World visited the Caribbean, including Jamaica, in February. Here are some of the stories we heard.
A gay man and his lesbian sister are shot in the chest in front of their families, in their home. A pastor praying at the funeral of a gay man is confronted by an angry mob. Someone chases a lesbian down a Kingston street, catches her, slits her throat, and leaves her to die in a bloody puddle.
She didn’t die, and she and other victims of vicious homophobia told us their stories. We came away appalled, although homophobia is very familiar in all the countries in which we work. Appalled because homophobia, sexism and bigotry are rolling out the welcome carpet for HIV/AIDS, and we feel more strongly than ever that unless homosexuality is decriminalized, the pandemic will not stop killing.
“Know your epidemic” has long been a mantra of international AIDS organizations. It makes sense. We know, from UN data, that in certain countries in the Caribbean, prevalence rates among men who have sex with men (MSM) are as much as 20 times higher than in the general population. Jamaica’s and Trinidad’s adult HIV prevalence rates are 1.6% and 1.5% respectively, compared to 31.8% and 20% among MSM.
Combine these figures with the fact that in the Dominican Republic, for example, 78% of MSM report having sex with women, and what do we know about the epidemic? We know that gay men fear for their safety and lives, and that they enter heterosexual relationships in order to stay safe. So the virus spreads to women.
We believe “know your epidemic” means not just knowing (and often blaming) the epidemic’s victims. We believe it means knowing what makes populations such as sexual minorities and women so vulnerable to the virus. MSM are not to blame for the high prevalence rates in their communities: the bigotry and legalized homophobia that drive them underground are.
The world has always blamed the oppressed for their own problems. MSM certainly don’t want to contract HIV, but their communities drive them underground and prevent them from seeking out prevention. Research data shows that when stigma is lowered, so are infection rates.
We simply cannot contain the epidemic – in Jamaica or anywhere else – if we don’t acknowledge the barriers facing those in high-risk groups. Those barriers include bigotry, fear, hatred and legalized discrimination.
Mr. Michel Sidibé, the new Executive Director of UNAIDS, recently gave strong support to this analysis in a number of principled speeches and statements. He has come out swinging against the consequences of sodomy laws and the criminalization of homosexuality. We would suggest that Mr. Sidibé and the UNAIDS Regional Director in the Caribbean send a dignified letter to Prime Minister Golding to protest that he is sparking the fire of the epidemic. Institutionalized discrimination puts Jamaica at risk of the further spread of HIV/AIDS, and it puts Jamaica on the wrong side of history.
Twenty-six years into the pandemic, with so much known about prevention and treatment, we at AIDS-Free World find it horrifying that HIV continues to keep its vicious grip on the nations of the Caribbean. Until human rights violations against vulnerable groups cease, this will not change. We call upon governments to end repression by repealing sodomy laws, and we call upon citizens to let go of hatred, fear and prejudice that diminishes and endangers us all.
(Stephen Lewis, Co-Director, and Julia Greenberg, Associate Director, of AIDS-Free World, traveled to the Caribbean in February.)
KINGSTON, Sep 26 (IPS) - When Jamaica's Health Ministry recently launched an anti-HIV stigma campaign titled "Getting on with Life" prominently featuring two HIV-positive Jamaicans speaking publicly about their experiences living with the disease, it was something of a watershed moment for groups like Jamaica AIDS Support, formed in 1991 to combat the spread of AIDS and HIV.
"There is a general acceptance now that HIV affects everybody," said Anne Marie Dobson, the organisation's public education coordinator "The government has enormously supported HIV programmes... And overall, there has been improvement in the way people think and feel about HIV."
For those among the 25,000 Jamaicans that the Ministry of Health estimates are living with HIV, an estimated 15,000 persons are unaware that they are infected with the virus. For those who do know their status, however, difficult decisions remain about how to handle their knowledge of the disease.
"I live in a community where they don't know that I am positive, and I can't tell them," said John Turner (not his real name), a 55 year-old labourer who hails from a lower-middle class suburb of Kingston. "I just can't tell them because of the stigma that is attached to it. I don't know what the reaction would be. "
"It's a common perception that HIV affects largely the gay population, [and] we can't say that that sort of perception has been totally wiped out," said Daniel Townsend, Jamaica AIDS Support's advocacy and research coordinator. "But to a large extent people are now getting the message that everyone is at risk for contracting this disease, and that is a huge and great help for AIDS service organisations in this country."
Indeed, one of the greatest hurdles to effective HIV and AIDS education, experts say, is Jamaican attitudes towards homosexuality, an issue that remains highly controversial. Steve Harvey, Jamaica AIDS Support's leader of targeted interventions for reaching out to gays and lesbians, sex workers and other minority groups, was kidnapped and killed in November 2005 by burglars who noticed a picture of him with his boyfriend on a laptop computer while robbing his home.
While many argue there have been great strides towards acceptance for gays and lesbians in the country, others charge that a kernel of violent bigotry remains, making the work of educators all the more difficult.
"I don't think (Jamaica's reputation for anti-gay violence) is overstated at all," Nancy Anderson, chief legal officer with the Independent Jamaica Council for Human Rights (IJCHR), an organisation formed upon the 20th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1968, and counting as the oldest human rights NGO in the Caribbean.
"You are in a very dangerous situation if you say that you are openly gay in Jamaica," she said.
Like many other countries in the world, Jamaica has laws criminalising sexual relations between men. Article 76 of the Jamaica's Offences Against the Person Act makes the "abominable crime of buggery" a criminal offence carrying a penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment, and Article 79 of the same act punishes physical intimacy between men with up to two years in jail.
"Gays and lesbians in Jamaica exist with the possibility that you might be chased, you might be run down, you might be killed because of your sexual orientation, and when a day ends when that does not happen, we give thanks," said Gareth Williams, one the leaders of the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (JFLAG), an organisation formed in 1998 to eliminate discrimination against members of the community. "But when you wake up the next day, you still get up with that on your mind."
The group's offices, a modest collection of rooms in a middle-class business district of Kingston, are unmarked by any sign on the door. In addition to providing counseling and support, JFLAG also works to end what it says is harassment by police against the community and to stem anti-gay violence.
Williams himself said that after he identified Harvey's body, police showed up at his home for several days in a row shouting that "Battymen (a Jamaican term for homosexuals) must be killed."
One of Jamaica's leading singers, Buju Banton, who first came to prominence with a song, "Boom Bye Bye," which advocated shooting gay men, was acquitted in a highly controversial trial in January of charges that he and several other men assaulted a group of gay men who lived near his home in June 2004. JFLAG says that a gay man who went by the moniker Kitty was murdered during a 2000 street dance in Kingston while "Boom Bye Bye" was playing.
In one of the most notorious incidents, in June 2004, a mob reportedly acting in collusion with local police chased, beat and stabbed to death a Jamaican man perceived to be gay in the tourist mecca of Montego Bay, an attack documented in a Human Rights Watch report titled "Hated to Death: Homophobia, Violence and Jamaica's HIV/AIDS Epidemic."
"In many countries, there are many hate crimes, either because of sexual orientation or because of race, and what we have to do, is acknowledge that happens in Jamaica and where possible, police it vigorously," says Mark Shields, a 30 year-veteran of police forces in Britain who has served as deputy commissioner for crime in the Jamaica Constabulary Force since 2005.
"There are allegations that some of our officers are homophobic, and I think that's true, but equally I could tell you that in London there are some officers that are homophobic, so this isn't something whereby we should see Jamaica in isolation from the rest of the world," he said.
Another area where activists say that a more aggressive approach is needed is confronting the feminisation of the disease, and the dangers that infection brings to women. A 2005 Ministry of Health report attributed high-risk behaviour among Jamaican women to, among other factors, higher unemployment unemployment and what it termed female subservience in the sexual decision-making process.
"We now need to focus our energies on women, who are one of the most vulnerable groups in our population," said Daniel Townsend. "While we've achieved a lot, there's still work to be done."
Jamaica's AIDS activists have many accomplishments to be proud of, bringing the struggle against the disease from a misunderstood plague to the nation's television screens, but they are under no illusions that tough struggles lie ahead.
"While Jamaica can boast that we've done a lot of work in the area of AIDS and HIV," said Anne Marie Dobson. "We cannot sit around and believe that the virus is over." (END/2006)
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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
Thanks so much for your kind donations and thoughts.
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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