Friday, February 26, 2010
The law makes an offence of “being a man, in any public way or public place, for any improper purpose, appears in female attire, or being a woman, in any public way or public place, for any improper purpose, appears in male attire.”February 20, marked the second annual commemoration of World Day of Social Justice, which recognises, in the words of United Nations General Assembly Resolution (A/RES/62/10), that “social development and social justice cannot be attained… in the absence of respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms.”In his message to mark the day, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon explained that “social justice is based on the values of fairness, equality, respect for diversity, access to social protection, and the application of human rights in all spheres of life.”
The day was chosen to address an act of social injustice against one of Guyana’s most marginalised social groups which took place last year.Transgender persons are people whose gender identity and/or expression differs from the sex they were assigned at birth, including cross-dressers, female or male impersonators, pre-operative, post-operative or non-operative transsexuals.Trans people may define themselves as female-to-male (FtM, assigned a female biological sex at birth but who have a predominantly male gender identity) or male-to-female (MtF, assigned a male biological sex at birth but who have a predominantly female gender identity); others consider themselves as falling outside binary concepts of gender or sex.In a series of crackdowns last year, between February 6 and February 7, the Guyana police arrested a number of male-to-female transgender persons (MtF Trans) and charged them for ‘cross-dressing’ under the archaic Colonial section 153(1) (xlvii) statute.Unrepresented and completely unaware of their rights, the defendants were detained in police custody over the week-end and then hustled through the legal system.When they appeared before Chief Magistrate Melissa Robertson on February 9, 2009, they were further ridiculed and told that they are men not women, before being fined by the learned Chief Magistrate.Seon Clarke, also known as Falatama, one of the persons arrested, said: “It was one of the most humiliating experiences of my life. I felt like I was less than human.”
The motion also pleads that the Chief Magistrate was improperly influenced by irrelevant considerations, discriminated against the MtF Trans on the basis of religion, and violated a fundamental norm of Guyana as a secular state.Vigorous and wide-ranging calls within and out of Guyana for the repeal of these discriminatory laws which facilitate such injustices have been ignored by the government.Since then, SASOD has forged partnerships with human rights interests in the local and regional arenas who have been working collectively and consistently on a voluntary basis over the past year to assist this marginalised group to obtain access to justice for the atrocities endured at the instance of the law enforcement authorities.According to Joel Simpson, a senior SASOD official, the 2009 ‘cross-dressing’ crackdowns and prosecutions provided clear illustrations of how discriminatory laws are facilitating grave human rights’ abuses, in spite of the existence of an entrenched regime of human rights protection in the Guyana constitution.Leading the research initiatives to support strategic-impact, human-rights litigation in the region, Tracy Robinson of the University of the West Indies Rights Advocacy Project (U-RAP) based at the Cave Hill campus’ law faculty in Barbados described the arrests and prosecutions as “an unfortunate embodiment of the patriarchal use of coercive state power for no clear or rational purpose,” highlighting the need for law reform to ensure social justice and gender equity in Guyana and across the region.SASOD has mobilised support from local and regional human rights attorneys to provide representation in what amounts to a ground-breaking constitutional case.
According to Dr. Arif Bulkan, also of U-RAP and one of the Guyanese attorneys involved in the litigation, “unless the wide-ranging constitutional reforms conducted in 2001 and 2003 are to be dismissed as pure window-dressing, then the emphasis placed on non-discrimination during that process should guide the High Court to interpret the expanded equality rights generously in order to protect one of our society’s most marginalised groups.”Veronica Cenac, a St. Lucian attorney who serves as the human rights focal point on the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition board of governors, lauded SASOD for spearheading the case. “For way too long, we have allowed abuses against the most affected populations to go unchallenged,” she said, quoting the closing words of the UN Secretary-General’s message: “Lack of social justice anywhere is an affront to us all.”
More from gspottt's Blog: Guyanese transpeople file a landmark constitutional motion to overturn a law against crossdressing: Caribbean GLBT law reform work begins
Peace and tolerance
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Photo by Nathaniel Stewart
'Riddim' tag team outlines gay,
Germany, Jamaican music situation
Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer
With the 2010 International Reggae Conference heading to a close last Saturday at the Assembly Hall, University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona Campus, a German tag team of reggae writers did an excellent job of analysing the situation with gays, Germany and Jamaican music.
Presenting alternately as they gave the historical, cultural and legal setting of the imbroglio in which Jamaican music has found itself, Pete Lilly and Ellen Köhlings of Riddim magazine summed up just how Jamaican music is being used by both gay rights groups and the performers themselves.
"They are looking for cheap forwards, just as the artistes performing cheap gay lyrics are looking for cheap forwards themselves," Köhlings said as she read the final segment of the hour-long presentation.
Although packing in a wealth of information, the presentation was organised and easy to follow, holding the attention of the small audience in the Assembly Hall. In the early stages, they made it clear that they are personally not homophobic, although there are those in Germany who would present them as such because of the artistes who appear in Riddim .
Lilly said, "We have to keep in mind that Jamaican culture is alien to a large percentage of our readers. In Germany, it is not accepted to express oneself negatively against any minority group onstage, especially in a violent way. This is coming from a history in which, less than 80 years ago, Jews, communists, homosexuals and Gypsies were among the minorities the Nazis slaughtered en masse. Hence, during the Student Revolution, the slogan was 'Auschwitz never again', Auschwitz being the name of a prisoner camp network in Poland run by the Nazis in which there were horrific mass murders."
The law against homosexuality was repealed in 1994, but it was made clear that homophobic sentiment does exist in Germany and the Riddim duo assessed that there seems to be a rise among the youth.
With Bob Marley's death in 1981, the German press declared reggae dead also. When Jamaican music got significant attention again, it was in the 1990s with Chaka Demus and Pliers, Shaggy and Shabba Ranks, with the German press welcoming the arrival of dancehall in the summer of 1993. It had its days in the sun and, when it disappeared from the charts, took up residence in leftist and smaller magazines.
The initial Boom Bye Bye uproar was largely confined to English-speaking countries with a significant Caribbean population. Then Jamaican music had another revival with German artistes Gentleman, Seed and Patrice as well as Sean Paul, many listeners still under the impression that it was still the 'one love' message.
Lilly and Köhlings spoke to the magazine's involvement in the issue, referring to the July 2002 story 'Burning All Illusions'. Then came the 2004 murder of Brian Williamson, which gay rights groups termed a hate crime, and the blacklist effort was on. Beenie Man, Vybz Kartel, TOK, Buju Banton, Sizzla, Capleton and Bounty Killer were the performers targeted.
Harmful Jamaican music
They broached matters of cultural imperialism and unfair expectations, going on to detail the various campaigns (Beenie Man, Sizzla and Capleton were estimated to have lost ?4 million combined at one point) at length. Now, 35 Jamaican music albums have been put on a list of Youth Harming Media, which cannot be available at any outlet that youth have access to - which is everything. CDs by Baby Cham, Vybz Kartel and Sizzla, as well as Reggae Gold and Strictly the Best - compilations are on the list, which does not contain a single American record.
Previously, the only reggae song on the Youth Harming Media Index was Peter Tosh's Legalise It , added in 1980. Currently, the state of Jamaican music in Germany is 'pretty sticky' and, without knowledge of the culture, it is impossible to take up a Jamaican CD without thinking of 'hate music'.
And while they said Riddim will do what it can to restore Jamaica's image, "Jamaica will have to take action and answer the allegations". It does not help that those allegations are made about a country where buggery is illegal and human rights organisations have detailed violence against homosexuals.
'They (gay rights groups) are looking for cheap forwards, just as the artistes performing cheap gay lyrics are looking for cheap forwards themselves."
There is no law under our statute that can hinder anyone to capture photographs in a public place it is a very delicate area of the law, one does not have a right to ones image if it is taken in a public space without the subjects consent, the law offers no protection from having an image of a person or thing occupying that space. If the photo is used in any way to defame the subjected person(s) involved then under common law there is recourse.
At best a letter or warning of sorts from an attorney of the complainant can be sent to the photographers or the suspected individuals advising them that any use of the photos that were taken without the permission of the subjects would lead to action without any legal recourse to them. This is an option that can be reserved. In France for example members of the public have a right to their image so the photos basically could have been ordered destroyed and the relevant actions taken against the parties involved in capturing the shots.
Jamaican citizens however have the right to protection from defamation, in a common law scenario the court will have to afford protection from being viewed in a derogatory light, one is entitled to their reputation but one cannot protect a reputation that one does not have, the common law however does not allow for others to intrude in person’s privacy.
So the only option in the initial stage is a warning letter through an attorney advising them accordingly that one is aware of the photos captured without consent and the possible legal actions if said photos are used to defame any of the subjected parties.
So much for rights eh?
So as it turns out there is a major loop hole here in terms of personal safety still, what if years down the road these photos turn up then one would have to use legal recourse to stop any defamatory action. The law needs to offer more protection to citizens’ rights and privacy than just after the fact when my image or that of my property is captured and stored somewhere and can be drawn upon to be used without my knowledge or consent or where I can’t act even under suspicion that my image is stored somewhere to have it destroyed.
This is a sad state of affairs though legally.
Peace and tolerance.
Please scroll to the relevant post that matches this entry or peruse the audioposts now hosted on GLBTQJA's NING Membership page.
Find more music like this on GLBTQ Jamaica Members' LINKUP
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
A FEW days ago, some guys who were just a couple of houses away from where I live here in Kingston were arrested for 'indecent exposure'. Their common attire of exposing their underpants was the reason. Now, while I personally don't like this common fashion, I think that this stupid act of the authorities is at the core of what is wrong with our society.
Why is it that we should have a problem with how anybody decides how to express himself through his attire? What the authorities are doing is trampling on the rights of people who are expressing themselves through their outfits. What they wear is their business. They certainly are not forcing anybody to dress like them, so why the fuss?
What's so indecent?
Also, I fail to see how the charge of indecent exposure can be applied to these people. Most of them are covered from head to foot anyway. Their underpants may be exposed, but not their bodies! We all know what underpants look like anyway, so what's so indecent about seeing them?
This new effort to 'clean up our morals' rings very much like ultra-church conservatism, and although I myself may not be targeted now, I am very worried. Now that this taliban-type effort is under way, where will it end? Will women who wear their skirts too short be soon arrested? What about men who wear earrings or tight pants? What about women who wear near transparent outfits? Men who braid their hair? Will they soon be arrested too?
A deafening silence
Talking about our women, I wonder if the authorities will ever clamp down on their short or transparent outfits? In our homophobic society, it seems unlikely. Is it that exposed men should be arrested but exposed women should be encouraged?
There was a time when inter-racial marriage, Rastafarians attending schools or offices and female drivers, among others, were all considered indecent. Why are these people so silent now?
Is it that as these people are no longer 'indecent' they don't mind seeing poor young males fromour ghettos arrested for this foolishness?
I am, etc.,
Michael A. Dingwallmichael_a_dingwall@hotmail.com
Monday, February 22, 2010
THE celebration of March 8 as International Women's Day (IWD) marks the increasing recognition of the struggles of women against all forms of discrimination and exploitation, and focuses on the need for equality, for national liberation, democracy, peace and progress in all countries of the world.
On International Women's Day, at the United Nations (UN) and across the world, women on all continents, often divided by national boundaries and by ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic and political differences, join in the commemoration of this significant event.
IWD derived its significance from March 8, 1908, when women needle trade workers in New York, reacting against their brutal exploitation, held a women's day demonstration to fight for the building of the needle trades union and demand the right to vote. The success of the rally led to similar rallies in other US cities and in other countries.
International Women's Day was first celebrated in Jamaica in March 1978. Since then, a number of policy and legislative changes as well as programme initiatives have been undertaken to advance the status of women. Over the years, the Bureau of Women's Affairs (BWA) has been involved in the organisation of the IWD observances and has utilised a number of fora to commemorate IWD and to provide public education and sensitisation to a wide cross-section of the Jamaican population.
Jamaica is a member of the Organisation of American States (OAS). The Inter-American Commission on Women is the arm of the OAS which is a specialised organisation for generating hemispheric policy to advance women's rights and gender equality. The commission has played a crucial role in making the participation and support of women an integral part of the priority of governments in the Americas.
This year is very significant as we focus on women's rights as human rights. This is in keeping with the OAS decision "To proclaim 2010 the Inter-American Year of Women". As a result, they have requested that governments, parliaments, international organisations, civil society, and the private sector conduct specific activities to observe the year.
In commemoration of IWD and the Inter-American Year of Women, the BWA will recognise the tangible and intangible contribution of women who have paved the way for national development. This involves working collaboratively with UN partners and other key stakeholders to intensify the efforts to ensure that there are equal rights and opportunities for women and men towards achieving progress.
-- Bureau of Women's Affairs
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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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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.
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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