Do you think the Buggery Law should be?

The Safe House Homeless MSM Project 2009 a detailed look & more

In response to numerous requests for more information on the defunct Safe House Pilot Project that was to address the growing numbers of displaced and homeless men in Kingston in 2007/8/9, a review of the relevance of the project and the possible avoidance of present issues with some of its previous residents if it were kept open.
Recorded June 12, 2013; also see from the former Executive Director named in the podcast more background on the project: HERE

Monday, July 12, 2010

MSM harrassed again .......

With the state of emergency still in force the police have stepped up their campaign to rid the streets of thugs, criminal elements and commercial sex workers in the New Kingston area but amongst all that are the homeless MSMs who have been targeted especially since the extended SOE to July 22 and the three day fashion event that happened on the weekend of July 9 – 11th called Fashion Block. Friday night’s event occurred at Devon House grounds some distance away from the business district until about midnight. The state of emergency supposedly had caused a halt to several major events as the cut off time for movement was 8pm in some instances however the Fashion Block organisers were able to obtain the relevant permits under the state of emergency and the Noise Abatement Act for Kingston.

The event attracts all those interested in fashion and as we know that includes the LGBT community many of the homeless MSMs now fewer in numbers since the dubious closure of the shelter were out after hours. The population of homeless MSMs is migratory so there are usually new faces that appear in the cliques or old faces that show up after a long absence. The police were seen on one occasion on that first night by my sources harassing some of the men by the New Kingston Shopping Centre and several of the drug addicts who occupy the gully nearby known as The Gulf were chased away in a bid supposedly to clear the streets. At first instance the gay men were warned not to loiter (as the cops maybe figured they were just in the area for the activities) when they were asked what they were doing on the road the men told the cops they were passing through. The following night Saturday July 10, 2010 despite day two of the Fashion Block event being held elsewhere around 11pm the same patrol team coincidentally came across the same set of homeless MSMs along with some of their friends in a different section of the district where the officers recognised the men and accused them of being male prostitutes they were harassed with one suffering hits with a baton and told to move away and not to loiter. 

Unfortunately the men didn't capture any of the officers identifying numbers or that of the patrol vehicle used.

The group of MSMs that usually converge along a particular strip as well have been given a stern warning by the police. Several taxi men who know of the MSM group members have warned them as well to avoid loitering as the cops aren’t joking as even they the taxi drivers who would normally wait out the night for night duty calls on their respective company CB radios along the hip trip and in front of the business hotels were told by the cops to reduce their waiting times until the state of emergency is near done or ended as no one will be allowed to loiter. Vendors have been told to clear early during the weekdays.

Sadly on Sunday July 11, 2010 there was another “cleaning” of sorts after the final night of Fashion Block along the business district again near the police station. The patrol cleared the streets which included female commercial sex workers who ply their trade on the northern tip of New Kingston were also warned with one woman taken away and is feared charged for resisting arrest as she was not willing to comply to the officers requests. Several men were also searched and held for marijuana and other contraband such as knives etc.

Commendable is the work by the police in maintaining security but to target supposedly gay men is not my idea of keeping the peace also of equal blame are how the men carry themselves I feel, it is well known that profiling takes place when it comes to suspected LGBT people and sometimes we do attract unnecessary attention to ourselves knowing the possible consequences when that happens. Some of the men were said to be flamboyantly dressed as even passers-by commented that while people are free to be who they are one has to be careful so as to avoid any problems as the men call down things unto themselves. Unfortunately I had to leave Fashion Block early on Sunday night but I did see some of them but only one in the group I saw was what some called flaming which is relative in my view. The difficulty is while one doesn’t want to be too prescriptive in how an individual should carry themselves as it could be viewed as condescending or “bad mind” in the Jamaican context how does one get the message that how one is attired attracts a certain response in real terms? If you know the answer, let me know.

Sadly here is another chronicle of abuse towards a section of the LGBT community seemingly damned by virtue of who they are, the advocacy systems overlook them generally save and except for specific crisis interventions after the fact when they have suffered some abuse and no preventative measures or programs are designed to guide this group out of trouble. One would say why do they put themselves in harm’s way by doing things in a haphazard manner? But how do they gage their behaviours when basic survival is what is at stake here?

I do not think homeless or displaced MSM would deliberately put themselves in harms way by engaging in commercial sex work when they cannot gain meaningful employment or have no way to earn skills under the absent social interventions that are a part of the mandate of the advocacy groups out now. We know the consequences when a man is publicly outed, it could spell ones demise.

Those of us who are very concerned and are on the sidelines watching are helpless for now as we can’t really do the things that are needed in the short term to try to advert this lack of intervention, to simply give money to them when one can and maybe try to talk to the homeless guys without the proper qualified psychological and social support systems is not of much help, when the matter of the homeless men issue was raised recently with a certain human rights lawyer associated with an advocacy group he basically dismissed the issue by saying it’s a worldwide problem and is not new. So I guess we should just go shut up and not critique this clear oversight of this highly marginalised group. Does anybody care?

We must also remember that under the present state of emergency now the detention orders cannot be challenged if one is held by the police and your release or charges are purely discretionary via the Minster of National Security through a recommendatory body specially set up to hear such complaints with a long waiting list. They however are powerless in a sense and can only recommend possible actions by the minister and cannot give or authorise any direct legal recourse towards a person who appears before it. Hearing of the over crowding of cells at stations almost everywhere the situation is not looking good add to that the unfortunate situation if some cross dresser or an alleged gay man whose status becomes known in a cell, the rest I don’t have to tell you. One can also be held for up to 30 days without or before bail is even considered for minor offences. The court in effect is powerless carry out any proper preliminary hearings or the benefit of habeas corpus to a citizen.

As always let us watch this issue to see of any changes are on the horizon for this group of the LGBT community.

Peace and tolerance.



mark said...

It's sad because this is such a vulnerable population. Even in the U.S. which doesn't have that much of a welfare state, housing is generally found for homeless people with AIDS - that holds true for New York City; I'm not sure if it holds true everywhere. To use the emergency powers against these men is terribly harsh, and I don't see what good it would do.

GLBTQ Jamaica Linkup Mod said...

we wish that more could be done in terms of some skills training or sum'n like or empowerment exercises that to keep them occupied and away from the streets, the devil finds work for idle hands.

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First, be calm: Do not panic; it may be very difficult to maintain composure if attacked but this is important.

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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

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