Friday, April 9, 2010
He spoke to Peter Tatchell founder of Outrage UK a pro-gay rights group based in the United Kingdom. The near half an hour exchange saw some salient points as it relates to the captioned item.
Mr. Tatchell was careful to point out that the perceived notion that foreigners are imposing rules on Uganda or similar states, he stressed that the debate is about reminding the Ugandans that their own constitution protects citizens despite sexual orientation although it never specified orientation as a defining factor. They should follow their own rules.
Uganda also is a signatory to the African charter a non European act agreed and developed by African states signed and ratified by Uganda which pledges equal rights and non discrimination for every person in Africa without distinction and discrimination. It is not about trying to boss around African states in any way he continued. Uganda should uphold the laws, treatise and convention that it has agreed and signed to. Host Lloyd D’Aguilar raised the issue of the UK introducing anti terrorism prevention bills that whittle away at personal freedoms juxtaposing the Ugandan constitution’s protection of its citizenry and on the backdrop that the UK doesn’t have a constitution. Mr. Tatchell responded by he would welcome a letter from the Ugandan authorities condemning the UK parliament for passing such encroaching laws, he wouldn’t think that Uganda would be imposing if they stood for what is right.
Other points include:
The Ugandan anti gay bill calls for the death penalty of persons conduct more than one counts of homosexual conduct a touch geared towards some homosexual act also attracts a life imprisonment sentence even if the touch is given by consent.
Members of the public who know of a homosexual and doesn’t report in 24 hours they may be imprisoned for three years.
The UK Prime Minister and others during a recent commonwealth meeting tried to impress on the Ugandan President on the amendments or withdrawal of the Bill. The Ugandan President has said it may not be a good idea to have the death penalty on a pubic platform a month ago but the bill in its original form still sits in the house and may be passed as is soon.
Anti gay laws originally were passed by the British when they occupied parts of Africa as a way to make civilize the considered wild tribes and people, Britain now has changed those laws.
The irony is that the western import was not homosexuality but homophobia as many tribes before the British occupation and colonialism had open homosexuality and it was accepted in some tribes and villages. Many gays in tribes were seen as holy men, priests or shamans as part of indigenous culture.
There is no known society where homosexuality did not exist as evidenced in oral histories from tribal societies and groups as there are hardly any written accounts to back it up. The lifestyle was understood in a way.
Reference was made to an old Nigerian male villager who shared accounts with Mr. Tatchell of known gay men in his village who were given specific roles to carry out unimpeded which never disturbed the life of the village in any way. They were accepted as different and incorporated as a part of the village now under Christian and Muslim fundamentalism homophobia and violence rages.
There is a connection between Christian fundamentalism and homosexual hate; the missionaries imposed the fundamentalist aspects of the bible on the indigenous peoples. Mr. Tatchell made reference to the old anthropological accounts, writings from European explorers and colonial administrators the narratives suggest that they were offended by the described disgusting vile homosexual practices of the peoples in Africa and the Caribbean. Homosexuality was said to be common in tribes they came across hence the conclusion arrived at that the tribes are barbarian and uncivilized. Colonialism was therefore justified by the belief that the masters could civilize them by imposing a Christian order to stamp out homosexual practice.
“You can see there is a quite close correlation between western homophobia and western racism, homosexuality in some African and Caribbean societies was used as a justification by the western powers for colonization and Christianization.” Peter Tatchell, April 8, 2010
In response to the Gleaner article on the travel website naming Jamaica as unsafe for gays Mr. Tatchell said that not all Jamaicans are homophobic but given the strong history of homophobia and scale of the homophobic violence it may not be safe for gays to come here or himself for now as he wouldn’t feel safe
On the matter of boycotts he said that they can unintended consequences hurting persons who don’t deserve to be hurt he squared the responsibility to the government and the church that have the power to change things, they have not helped to prepare the country to be safe for all.
Host Lloyd D’Aguilar suggested that the Prime Minster at the least should apologize for his unfortunate not in my cabinet comments and the repulsion of the buggery law should be considered.
He ended by making mention of the Charter of Rights that has been languishing for some twenty years that excludes orientation matters a point reinforced several times over on this blog.
Peace and tolerance
For Immediate Release
(New York, USA – April 8, 2010) Yesterday in Montego Bay, over a hundred people carrying signs with messages from "My Bedroom My Business" to "Sex Work is My Choice" called for tolerance. Sexual minorities, sex workers and people with AIDS in Jamaica held a public event together for the first time. AIDS-Free World applauds the bravery of those who participated in the "Walk for Tolerance."
We are delighted at this important statement of solidarity from Jamaica AIDS Support For Life (JASL), the Sex Workers Association of Jamaica (SWAJ), and other local and international groups who walked proudly on the streets of Montego Bay. We endorse their demands, which include repealing the country's repressive sodomy laws.
"Today marked a change in Jamaica and the country will never be the same," said Maurice Tomlinson, AIDS-Free World's consultant in Jamaica.
"Lesbian, gay, transgendered people and sex workers boldly declared their right to be treated as equal citizens and the genie cannot be put back in the bottle. There will be no turning back. Despite initial fears about security, once the walk started, even the timid were caught up in the event. When we were greeted with the very few derogatory comments, we answered boldly and proudly. And the people quickly backed down."
The event highlighted the effects of intolerance on people who are particularly vulnerable to HIV. In Jamaica, HIV prevalence is 1.3% in the general adult population, 9% among sex workers and between 25% and 30% among men who have sex with men (MSM).
People who belong to these groups tend to be at the receiving end of many human rights violations. Fear and stigma keep them from reaching suitable HIV prevention, treatment and care. MSM are not to blame for their high prevalence rate; the bigots and homophobes who drive them underground are. Those who walked yesterday know this and were calling for it to stop.
If anyone is in doubt about the significance of this event, we would like to point out that it is the first of its kind in Jamaica, a country internationally notorious for its vicious homophobia. If anyone is in doubt about the courage of the people who participated, we would like to point to Jamaica’s abysmal human rights record with sexual minorities. Five years ago, Steve Harvey, a senior JASL employee, was murdered for being gay. Jamaica is one of the 79 countries with homophobic laws, and public figures spew hateful anti-gay diatribes with impunity. Just last year the Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, made disparaging remarks about gay people and announced that he has no intention of repealing the country's sodomy laws.
"As long as Jamaican society and law continues to drive sexual minorities underground, and focuses on the victims rather than the perpetrators of the injustices that help spread both human rights abuses and HIV, no prevention programs will stop the disease," said Paula Donovan, Co-Director of AIDS-Free World.
Sex work is also illegal in Jamaica, leaving sex workers with no recourse when they are exploited. Princess Brown of SWAJ said, "This was an important step in confronting the bigotry that has for a long while been meted out to sex workers." Society, including the church, is not known for its tolerance of sex work, although clearly if nobody bought sex, nobody would sell it. SWAJ believes that sex workers can play a lead role in preventing the further spread of the virus on the island if given the skills and power to encourage condom use and sexual health in their community.
We agree with those who walked peacefully and bravely on Montego Beach that until all people can be sure of their basic freedoms to live unmolested and unafraid, the pandemic will continue, and we will all be poorer for it. To quote a flyer being handed out on the beaches of Montego Bay today, as a rainbow flag flew overhead, "To Tolerate is Great!"
For further information, please contact:
Executive Assistant to Stephen Lewis
TEL: +1 416-657-4458
In Jamaica, please contact:
TEL: +1 876-784-0908
Friday, April 09, 2010
BUJU...BOUNTY...BEENIE...Iconic figures in our contemporary music kingdom... and they all have their problems. Buju, starving in a Florida jail...Bounty and Beenie, stripped of the privilege to travel to their richest market, for reasons not revealed to their fans. Is this a new turning point in the Jamaican music industry?
Beenie has hit back with a new single declaring that he might not have visa but he has life - an admirable philosophy but not one which is going to pay the bills to support himself, his tailor, his support crew and all the members of the entourage. The same goes for fellow travellers on the visa road.
Top entertainers live well. They travel first-class. In a conversation with a certain performer who went from the confines of a prison cell to top of the charts, he railed at the inefficiencies of commercial air travel. Over and again, as we sat on the tarmac waiting for our flight to get to the top of the take-off line, he kissed teet, switched back and forth between the three BlackBerrys clipped on to the seat pocket in front of him and swore that he intended to buy his own plane so that he wouldn't have to wait "pon dis eff-ry". He was way down the line from the top-ranking but he was big enough in his own mind.
On flights, people tell strangers things they wouldn't repeat to their closest partners. My fellow traveller talked freely about the lifestyle which his success had brought. His crew was in the back of the plane, travelling economy. He always rides up front. He had been to so many countries he couldn't even remember their names.
On the road it is hard work... boring even. Wake... sleep... eat bad food... travel... eat... sleep... do the work, but it brings in money, good money. I wondered (to myself), what will he do when the day comes that he can't travel first-class anymore, can't use one expensive communication gadget after another to remind the bwoy back a him yard to get the SUV washed "cause me nah drive home inna no dutty vehicle, seen"?
Entertainers deserve what they get paid, said my travel companion. "We work hard-hard. It look easy but it hard-hard. Don't even talk about all the bloodsuckers who live offa you... the woman dem who just want you for your money. Yuh tink it easy? It nuh easy at all."
Once I met Beenie coming off a flight into Kingston. Someone introduced us. He knew who I was, he said. I know who you are, I replied. We found a few little things to talk about then we made our separate ways towards Immigration and Customs. As he strode ahead of his crew, people working in the passageways rushed to call out to him. He greeted everyone with enthusiasm. "Him nice yuh see," said one of the women who are paid to paw through luggage looking for "tings". Others agreed, "Beenie have manners." Our people revere their entertainers. They've made them stars. If things were to start changing and not for the better, what will these stars do? They have created a special niche for themselves as representatives of JA, regarded as ambassadors of an art form uniquely ours, which has revolutionised the world. When the fans don't come running anymore, what do you do?
THE ECONOMIC FACTOR is major. Whole communities can prosper or taste defeat according to the presence of a star in their community. If Mega Star could no longer travel, what would that mean to those who depend on his presence? The removal of visa privileges will affect that individual, but he is not alone. The earnings of his entourage pay for food at shop, books for school, rent to landlord. We know by now that the Embassy does not, is not obliged to make public its reasons for whatever action it takes. It is left for individuals and community to speculate on what has brought on the disfavour... and there's a lot of speculation at the moment as stars fly first-class into the storm.
It is hard to imagine the major lights of the Jamaican popular entertainment industry not being able to shine abroad... and that doesn't mean 'Merica only. People here are beginning to worry. You can hear the clink of doors being shut in many places. Things aren't what they used to be with the Brits and the Europeans either. They have particular difficulty with our entertainers' sentiments about homosexuality. Apparently we know something about human sexuality that the rest of the world doesn't and isn't prepared to pay top dollar to hear.
DOORS ARE BEING SHUT against us even elsewhere in the Caribbean. I say "even" not in a condescending sense but as in "even our own family". They are not afraid to shut us out when they want. No less a personage than the Prime Minister of Barbados felt impelled recently to declare that two of our most noted purveyors of lurid lyrics were not welcome in his fair isle.
One other stumbling block about which we haven't said much is the business of taxes. None of us likes rendering to Caesar... but he's on the rampage with a vengeance these days. This should have alerted one of our in-demand entertainers who found himself grounded and had to watch his entourage fly off without him, because the tax people said so. While the tax people didn't name any names when the media came calling, they were not subtle in hints about persons who are given the opportunity to forge a mutually acceptable arrangement to settle tax debts. Failure to do so can bring on a stop order, they said. Get it now, as to why our star didn't make it abroad?
OVER TIME, there has been a lot of chat about organising the entertainment industry in this way and that way. There has been no shortage of seminars, keynote speakers, official pronouncements and all that stuff, yet there is no really organised industry, as far as I can see. What we have is a group of individuals of varying creative gifts who rely on themselves rather than corporate effort.
WHOSE BIG IDEA was it to plan a meeting for nurses to attend on Good Friday, starting at 12 noon? Was it, as some people say, an insult to the religious sensitivity of those for whom Three-Hour Devotions usually begin at noon, that day - OR was it plain clumsy? Whichever it is, the nurses are not amused.
DO BETTER: Persons who have been writing letters to the editor in defence of the young athlete who celebrated his victory at Champs by aiming a two-finger gun salute at the crowd might need to re-think the defence of their little darling. The misguided youth repeated the offence at the CARIFTA Games in Grand Cayman not long after. One time is mistake, second time is purpose, mi Granny say. The kid might not be bright enough to understand other people's abhorrence of gun salutes, real or simulated in this time when so many bodies are being buried. We hope his adult champions get the point.
"Mr Myrie is in custody and wants to go to trial as soon as possible," declared attorney-at-law David Markus, responding to the decision of the court to delay the start of the trial for more than two months.
Buju has been in custody since December 10 last year and was initially slated to face the court in March.
That was changed to April 12 before a final date of April 19 was set for the start of his trial on charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine and possession of a firearm during a drug-trafficking crime.
But in an order released yesterday, the US District Court in the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, announced that the trial had been rescheduled and would now start on Monday, June 21.
The court also announced that a status conference is to be held on Thursday, June 3, at the US Sam Gibbons Courthouse in Tampa, Florida.
No agreement on new date
This did not sit well with lawyers representing Buju, who immediately filed a motion for a status conference to discuss the trial date.
Markus yesterday argued that the court sua sponte (on its own will) rescheduled the trial at a disadvantage to Buju.
"The case was originally set for the March calendar, but because the case agent's wife was due to have a baby at that time, the defence agreed to a brief continuance," Markus noted.
"The parties agreed to a date of April 12, but because it was spring break in Tampa, the court suggested (and the parties agreed) that the case be set for April 19," added Markus.
He said the defence attorneys have been working very hard to be ready for the date and had put plans in place to begin the work to free the singer.
"We have potential witnesses flying in from Jamaica who have made their plans. We have made our flight and hotel plans. We have lawyers on the team flying in from Houston and Washington, DC, who have also made their flight and hotel plans."
According to Markus, the defence team is willing to have the case transferred to a different judge in its effort to have the case begin earlier than the June 21 schedule.
Thursday, April 8, 2010
change we can see
the sun is hot (we are in a drought) but read what I have to say
the flaggggg agaiinnnnn! selll offfff
See part one of the full post on Gay Jamaica Watch as well.
Peace and tolerance
BY HORACE HINES Observer West reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, April 08, 2010
MONTEGO BAY, St James -- The Jamaica Aids Support for Life (JASL) yesterday headed 13 groups working with persons infected with HIV in a campaign for more tolerance of persons infected with the sexually transmitted disease which has claimed the lives of millions, globally.
Amidst much pomp and pageantry, members of groups which included the Jamaica Red Cross; the Sex Workers Association of Jamaica, the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians and Gays (JFLAG); Women for Women (WFW) and persons living with HIV, among others, paraded to the beat of a marching band along the Howard Cooke highway on their way to the popular Dump Up Beach, along the city's waterfront where they massed under a tent.
Speeches were then heard from members of the various groups. There were booths from which condoms were issued and free HIV testing.
Ian McKnight chairman of the board of the JASL was heartened with the turnout at the inaugural staging of the event.
"We expected 100 people, one or two of three from each group -- we did not want hangers-on and we have been successful in getting that," Mcknight said.
He added: "At least 13 different groups around Jamaica working with HIV have come together to say that there are particular things that stop us in our work and if we are a little bit more tolerant in giving care, in giving support, things will change and so the burden of the disease, particularly on certain groups in Jamaica is one that we need to have shifted and shifted very quickly.
So groups are saying treat each person well, treat each person with basic human rights. When you render health care make sure that you render it very well. We have a right to treat everybody well".
Nancy Wilson, the openly gay leader of the Metropolitan Community Churches, also used the opportunity to send a message.
" We have ministries all over the world that are open and accepting of all people including persons with HIV and AIDS and we know it is important to teach the love of God and Jesus; and acceptance of God for all people. We believe that love and grace and mercy and tolerance are so important in today's world," Wilson declared.
| Close to 100 persons participated in the march, calling for persons to be more tolerant of others usually discriminated against, including AIDS victims and gays.
The historic march was led by Reverend Elder Nancy L. Wilson, the openly lesbian presiding bishop of the International Movement of Metropolitan Community Churches.
Wednesday's march for tolerance comes in the midst of criticisms being levelled against Jamaica, particularly entertainers for their lack of tolerance of gays.
Reverend Wilson, who arrived in Montego Bay fresh from her meeting with US President Barack Obama, told RJR News that affected persons are now emerging from their shells.
"This is an amazing event ... it's a day of standing up with people with HIV and AIDS, their families and friends and saying all people deserve justice and health care and dignity and to be free from stigma or hatred just because of who they are or who they love and because of their HIV and AIDS status," she said.
Devon Camock, Manager of the Montego Bay Chapter of the Jamaica AIDS Support for Life, said while the turn out was not as great as anticipated, they are ecstatic.
"We were anticipating more persons, however, at the last minute some persons were late while some didn't show up.
It's the first time we've had a tolerance walk and we're taking about tolerance for person who have HIV/AIDS, tolerance for persons who are hearing impaired, tolerance for person who are sex workers, tolerance for everybody as often times, we're not tolerant of each other," he said.
My simple and unofficail report on the "walk for Tolerance.
Participants included; allies, sex workers, and LGBTIs among others.
Official reports state that approximately one hundred (100) persons took place in the “Walk”. There were over ten (10) groups and organizations that took part in the “Walk”, including the Ministry of Health and Metropolitan Community Churches (with ministers including Rev. Nancy Wilson (moderator) present).
Peace to you all
A United Kingdom travel website has placed Jamaica atop a list of five destinations that gays should avoid.
The website, Cheapflights.co.uk, lists Jamaica along with Fiji, Poland, Nicaragua and Mauritius as countries that are not friendly to gays.
"Believe it or not, there are still several places in this modern world where being gay is actually illegal and can result in abuse, and even arrest in some cases.
"So as well as telling travellers where they should go, we also highlight where they shouldn't with the following top five," the website said in listing the countries.
Meanwhile, Cheapflights.co.uk lists Los Angeles, San Francisco, New Orleans and Provincetown in the United States; and Amsterdam in the Netherlands, as the top five economic and enjoyable destinations to visit.
Cheapflights.com boasts of being able to provide the best shopping-comparison engines for consumers making domestic and international trips.
Jamaica has been placed on various blacklists by gay-rights groups which have argued that the country has not demonstrated tolerance to diverse sexual orientations.
The country's prime minister, Bruce Golding, has said gay advocates are "perhaps the most organised lobby in the world".
He has, however, said that Jamaica was "not going to yield to the pressure, whether that pressure comes from individual organisations, individuals, whether that pressure comes from foreign governments or groups of countries, to liberalise the laws as it relates to buggery", the prime minister told Parliament last year.
Golding has also made it clear that Jamaica's Parliament would not recognise same-sex marriage or same-sex unions while he was in power.
"I make no apology in saying decisively and emphatically that the Government of Jamaica remains irrevocably opposed to the recognition, legitimisation or acceptance of same-sex marriages or same-sex unions," Golding said last year as he piloted the Charter of Rights through the Parliament.email@example.com
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
The famous calypso Shame and Scandal in the Family aptly describes the shocking revelations in Ireland about child abuse by Catholic priests over many years, also across Europe and the United States. The accusations against the clergy are as varied as the countries in which the sordid offences were committed.
(photo) REECE... paedophilia should have been viewed as a psychological illness and not spiritual or moral culpability
The main accusation levelled at the Roman Catholic Church is that no appropriate tangible disciplinary action was administered against the offending clerics, who in many instances were transferred to other locations after participating in some form of internal penitential punishment. Based on the principles “the punishment must fit the crime” and “justice must not only be done, but seen to be done”, these attempts at remedial reform were woefully inadequate. The new cases of child abuse being exposed in Ireland and Germany have created a new groundswell of complaints by alleged victims, bringing the number of countries involved to seven so far. This shameful episode in the history of the Roman Catholic Church is now again in the public domain demanding a solution to the ungodly affair.
A question was raised as to why the Church failed to administer appropriate discipline to offending clerics. One presumed reason is common to family scandals, which close ranks to protect their members and the family's reputation. This act of self-preservation is usually evident in cases of rape and incest. Secondly, such inactivity is reflective of the distinction between religious principle and human frailty. There is, however, no confusion concerning the gravity of such crimes and the severity of punishment due, as explicitly stated by Jesus thus: “Therefore anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who trust in me to lose faith, it would be better for that person to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around the neck” (Matthew 18, vs. 4-6). In this 21st century the equivalent punishment could be interpreted as “defrocking” or excommunication of guilty parties, or criminal prosecution, or both.
Confusion exists widely in the minds of the faithful laity who condemn the Catholic religion as distinct from the Catholic Church for its shortcomings. Frequently, for example, there are reports of senior executives in a company being found guilty of an offence, be it fraud or corruption, that warranted their dismissal or prosecution, or both. Such occurrences do not necessarily lead to condemnation of the company and its policies, which continues its lawful and ethnically correct business activity. This criticism regarding the current scandal heaped upon the Catholic religion as distinct from the Catholic Church is misplaced, and probably but understandably related to the highly intense emotion surrounding the flawed characters and inherently sinful nature of the human perpetrators. Catholicism has existed for more than 2000 years and will exist until the end of time. The faithful are therefore urged to seriously consider this mandate from the Church's founder before defecting to an alternative path for salvation because of the unfortunate scandal.
Archbishop of Kingston Donald Reece is to be commended for explaining that “paedophilia should have been viewed as a psychological illness and not an issue of spiritual or moral culpability”. He also quoted the Holy See, which has said only between 1.5 and 5 per cent of its clergy have been implicated in paedophilia scandals. Regarding a possible link between celibacy and the present scandal, Bishop Giuseppe Versaldi, professor of canon law and psychology in Rome says : “It has been established that there's no link.” He continued: “First off, it's known that sexual abuse of minors is more widespread among lay people and those who are married than in the celibate priesthood. Second, research has shown that priests guilty of abuse had long before stopped observing celibacy.” Another salient factor in the scandal is contained in a report by the US Catholic bishops that an understanding of clerical sex abuse isn't possible without reference to both celibacy and homosexuality, since the vast majority of US abuse cases were of a homosexual nature.
A toxic side effect of public outrage is the diminished confidence of the laity in the moral integrity of the clergy when judging lay persons as culpable sinners. This reaction was inflamed by uncalled for remarks by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, head of the Anglican Church, saying Roman Catholicism has lost its credibility in Ireland due to the scandal. Such remarks, despite a schism within the US Anglican community, which condones homosexual marriage and permits a practising homosexual priest, Gene Robinson, to continue performing as a clergyman, was disingenuous to say the least. The Anglican Archbishop has since apologised to Pope Benedict and the Irish bishops for his indiscretion.
Finally, the Roman Catholic Church remains resolute and faithful to the Catholic religion, according to teachings of its Founder Jesus Christ. It works tirelessly with distinction in the fields of education and charity, particularly in Jamaica, continuing to form the minds and characters of children and young adults while helping the poorest in society, the economically deprived and destitute. What is needed most during this Easter season is the help and support of the faithful, to be united in their purpose of defending their beliefs according to sacred scripture, and in time confidence and integrity in the Catholic Church and clergy would be completely restored.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
About 45,000 Jamaicans are living with HIV/AIDS and for every five people who start Anti-Retroviral Treatment, 10 new infections occur.
Yet, since 2007, UNAIDS has reported that male circumcision can reduce a man's chances of contracting HIV/AIDS by as much as 50-60 per cent. Circumcised penises are simply easier to keep clean and provide a less favourable environment for the very fragile HIV virus to grow and thrive. Amazingly, this life-saving information has barely trickled out of any of the Ministry of Health's "conduits" (lubricated or otherwise).
The anti-buggery law and laws against private, adult consensual sex work not only violate the right to privacy of men who have sex with men (MSM) and the right to work of sex workers, but these laws also contribute to the spread of HIV-AIDS by driving MSM and sex workers underground away from effective HIV-AIDS prevention, treatment and care interventions.
At the same time, the government has cut spending on HIV-AIDS programmes by 23 per cent in the new fiscal year. The result of such mismatched policies will inevitably mean that HIV/AIDS will continue to spread and achieve pandemic proportions in certain populations, imperilling our health-care system already on life support.
If the government is serious about sparing the health sector from an impending crisis, then I urge it to adopt the following:
* Promote male circumcision.
* Repeal the laws against buggery and private, consensual adult sex work.
These desperate financial times require our leaders to make such bold if unpopular decisions in Jamaica's interest.
The assertion is being put forth that homosexual intercourse must be accepted and destigmatised in order to lower the incidence of HIV transmission and that the Judeo-Christian view is a backward hindrance to the cause. To assert otherwise is predictably met with the jamming tactic of being labelled a bigot, hater, and homophobe so as to pre-empt reasonable debate. How can public health consequences be assessed when questions and dissent are punished or prohibited? Aren't private acts with damaging public consequences of legitimate public interest?
A 2009 human rights complaint filed against the government of Canada by a GLBT alliance cited numerous studies revealing their poor statistics for life expectancy (20 years short of standard), suicide, alcohol and illicit drug/substance abuse, cancer, infectious disease, HIV/AIDS, and depression.
A 1997 study in the International Journal of Epidemiology noted that gay men in Canadian urban gay centres had life expectancy comparable to that of the 1870s. In northern Europe same-sex attracted people enjoy supportive government, affirmation from liberal (if floundering) churches, and a public coerced into silence by hate-speech laws, yet the substandard health statistics for the GLBT community are just a dismal as elsewhere. Evidently, secular progressive welcoming and affirmation are not the promised panacea.
Uganda reversed its climbing AIDS rate with a national ABC programme: "Abstinence until marriage", "Be faithful to spouse", and "Condoms as back-up with known and discussed failure rates, heavily including the Christian community". Simply throwing condoms about has been done in Africa for decades and only worsened the problem, per Dr Edward C Green, director of the AIDS Prevention Research Project at the Harvard Centre for Population and Development Studies. Like Cameroon and South Africa, nations pushing condoms and progressive sexual practices find only accelerated HIV rates.
As for the Judeo-Christian factor, same-sex sexual behaviour is deemed harmful by Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism as well. The Dalai Lama stated during a 1997 speech in San Francisco, "From a Buddhist point of view, men-to-men and women-to-women is generally considered sexual misconduct." Five thousand years of moral teaching - not just that of monotheism - seem lightly dismissed by some.
Behavioural consequences exist and the results are not the same for all sexual behaviours - life is neither a Disney movie nor a Montessori school. Inherently unsafe behaviour is not sanitised by enablement - technology won't fix it and shifting blame on to the faith community is misguided.
Encouragement, let alone celebration of same-sex sexuality is not a benign mistake. Will Jamaica make the choice of Canada, northern Europe, and Cameroon - with the certainty of achieving the same failure - or recognise the lesson from Uganda?
Dr Andre Van Mol
Bans, stop orders and incarceration. Is Jamaican music, or more specifically Dancehall, under threat? Are forces hostile to certain strains in popular Jamaican musical expression conspiring to suppress what they deem a cultural contagion? As I indicated in one of my recent articles in which I supported Charles Campbell's position that overseas opportunities for Jamaican acts are dwindling the doors are closing. Many reasons are being adduced and much blame is being ascribed. Whatever the reasons and whoever the culprits there is one inescapable fact: we are running out of options. This is certainly not a matter on which I take any pleasure reporting.
The recent announcement of a ban restricting Bounty Killer, Beenie Man and Mavado from travelling to the United States is the latest in a series of what must now be worrying developments in the Jamaican music industry. The bans come in the wake of a temporary stop order (subsequently rescinded) imposed on Elephant Man from leaving the island. Are the two issues related? Is this all part of grand international conspiracy involving domestic and foreign actors to destroy Dancehall and perhaps Jamaican music? I believe that except amongst the most febrile conspiracy theorists this would indeed be a stretch. Yet one must admit that, when viewed against the backdrop of Vybz Kartel's inability to travel to the United States and Buju Banton's present incarceration in a Florida jail, the current ban on these acts paints a most troubling picture of Jamaican music. What is more is that the Europeans are becoming increasingly reluctant to grant visas to Jamaican acts due to what are reported to be homophobic concerns and the Barbadian government (through the intervention of Prime Minister David Thompson) recently cancelled a show featuring Mavado and Kartel in Bridgetown, pointing to an accelerating trend to restrict Jamaican artistes from performing in Caribbean territories.
There are those who contend that the Dancehall acts -- with their fratricidal feuds -- are to be blamed for the troubles they now see. Supporters of this view point to the fact that to date the exponents of Reggae have been largely spared the travel inconvenience being experienced by their Dancehall counterparts. This argument would perhaps suggest that Dancehall acts are more often associated with violent or criminal activities and this could be the cause of their imminent professional demise. Yet this argument is deserving of further examination. Bushman, Mikey Spice and Luciano would not be considered typical Dancehall acts and they have had their brushes with the law. Garnett Silk, another icon of the Roots music crowd, would perhaps have had problems with the law had he not perished in the fire on that fateful night in Jamaican music history. It should be noted that neither Beenie Man, Bounty Killer nor Mavado (to the best of my recollection) have ever been charged with a felony. Could it be that there is more concern overseas about what our artistes say than what they do? The sad reality, though, is that the Jamaican music scene, and not just Dancehall, is a dangerous space to navigate. Artistes by the nature of their visibility (often brought about by conspicuous consumption) are high-profile targets for robberies, and worse.
It is possible that Dancehall has become the victim of a global warfare being waged between different factions of the same generation. In fact, what we might be seeing is a war being waged about the rights to expression. The dancehall acts are pitted against liberal elements of their own generation who in a previous dispensation would have been their allies. What is happening in Europe seems to support the position that a liberal social agenda which countenances greater freedom of sexual expression is trumping concerns for artistic licence. In this epic battle, artistic licence is losing, especially in the case of Jamaican music, which is not an indigenous form of expression in these territories. Are concerns about homophobia behind the recent travel bans? We do not know and the United States will not say. After all, they owe us no explanation. The granting of a visa is a privilege, not a right. Of course, the current detention of Buju is seen by many in Jamaica to be part of a grand homosexual conspiracy.
Yet there might not only be moral, legal and political considerations which have prompted the current phase of travel restrictions in a number of overseas territories. I strongly suspect that these decisions could also be driven in some instances partly or wholly by commercial imperatives. It is no secret that Jamaican music dominates the airwaves of the English-speaking Caribbean territories. This poses a serious threat to the development of indigenous forms of expression in many small Caribbean territories. Some would say that the behaviour of some Jamaican artistes provide those who seek to prevent them from entering some Caribbean and European borders with the perfect excuse for excluding them. The fact is that governments can be very skilful in circumventing free trade provisions. Visa restrictions and other objections are some of the tools employed by some nations to get around free trade concessions they might have given to other territories in treaties and agreements.
What, then, are the options available to Jamaican acts? Well, there is always the matter of integrity. If an artiste deems his message to be integral to his identity then he has the right and the option to eschew financial considerations and adhere to his beliefs. An artiste will have to decide which is of more importance -- his being able to secure a visa or his having the ability to say what he believes. Assuming that this might be the main reason for the ban in some territories. In this present scenario it might well be unlikely that he can eat his cake and have it. Strategy is about choice. It might very well be that a body of work which is now deemed offensive will find future redemption. There sometimes has to be a trade-off between longevity and immediate gratification. It will be incumbent on each artiste and his management to make the determination of which path they will take.
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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.
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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