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Friday, December 3, 2010

World AIDS Day Event at JASL Kingston


World AIDS Day, Wednesday December 1, 2010

The Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL) held a Candle Light Vigil on World AIDS Day at its Kingston location. The event got underway at approximately 7 p.m. with the opening prayer done by Father Monsignor Richard Albert.

We were given a short history of JASL (done by Althea Blake of the JASL Board), the audience learnt that in its initial days, the organisations focus was on persons infected with HIV/AIDS.  JASL was the fist organization to offer hospice care for positive persons, to die with dignity, today the organisation provides much more than that, including: prevention, treatment and care services.

There were various items throughout the programme all worthy of being acknowledged:
  • Mona High School- Song 
  • Tarrant High School – “Real Talk” 
  • Richard Dell- Dances 
  • Tanya Stephens (impromptu) – Singing A capella “Do You Still Care” and a short talk 
  • Fabian Thomas- Poem in dedication to Howard Daley and Steve Harvey 
  • Jamaica Youth Theater
The Message titled “Hope in the Face of HIV/AIDS” was given by Rev. Dr. Shelia McKeithen senior minster at the Universal Center of Truth for Better Living. She used HOPE as an acronym to bring across her message:
  • H- health- this is a privilege don’t abuse it. 
  • O- opportunity
  • P- positive- have a positive attitude 
  • E-expect- be expectant 
At the end of her message, Rev. Dr. Shelia McKeithen pledged $100,000 to JASL for 2011 from the Universal Center of Truth for Better Living.

The symbolic candle lighting ceremony was done by representatives of various parts of society:
  • Rev. Dr. Shelia McKeithen 
  • Dr. Somse- UNAIDS 
  • Dawn Marie Roper- PANOS 
  • Pat Watson and Joy Crawford- Eve for Life 
  • Dane Lewis- JFLAG 
  • People Living with HIV (PLHIV) 
  • Shirley Lee- Disabled Community 
  • Nurse Gowe- Hunter- JASL Community 
  • Karla Ellis- Country Director- USA Peace CORPS 
  • Hermence Matsotsa- USA Peace Corps (international volunteer community) 
  • Careen Russell & Colleen Russell- Local Volunteer Community 
  • Jackie Ingledew- Private Sector Community 
  • Jamieann- Orphan Vulnerable Children (OVC) 
Just before the reading of the quilts Tanya Stephens was called to perform. Though unexpected she did not disappoint, giving the crowd- “Do You Still Care” acapella. She then spoke briefly on the issues of respect, advocacy and discrimination, stating that the government cannot call for tolerance and non-discrimination when it’s laws are the grounds from which intolerance and discrimination is launched, she then went on to call for the removal of ‘certain laws’.

The names on the quilts were then read, these quilts were created over the years in remembrance of those who have died from HIV/AIDS. Because of their deteriorating condition the decision was taken to let them remain on the inside, in the JASL gallery were persons could view them after the ceremony. There were 11 quilts:
  • The Curtain 
  • The Tree 
  • The Shell 
  • The Jamaica Flag 
  • The Map of Jamaica 
  • The Mask 
  • Between the Lines 
  • Into the light 
  • The Tile 
  • The Sun 
  • Star Hall 
The item performed by the Jamaica Youth Theater deserves a bit more than just the note above, not because it was better than the others but because it spoke to the issue of transgenderism- an issue which doesn’t get much attention from within the LGBT Community nor from the outside.

The quilt for 2009-2010 titled: “The Journey of Life” was unveiled by Rosemarie Hinds and Nurse Ochid Gowe-Hunter.

Following the Vote of Thanks by Yvonne Artis- Programme Assistant- candles were distributed and lit and the audience led by hosts Dara Smith and Jaevion Nelson, sang the JASL theme song “That’s What Friend are For”.
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This was my first year attending any World AIDS Day event and it certainly won’t be the last. I’m sorry I didn’t have a video camera to record some of the amazing item performances. I have my criticisms, but I will save those for a future post. The event generally speaking was good and I applaud JASL Kingston.

JASL Gallery 2010
Jamaica Youth Theater
Tanya Stephens- "Do You Still Care"
Tanya Stephens
Hosts Dara Smith (CVM TV Journalist) and Jaevion Nelson (JYAN)

Jamaica Youth Theater
                                   
    The Audience- Lighting candles and singing "That's What Friends are For"

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Pegasus Clarifies Stance

On November 11, 2010 J-FLAG made a booking at the Pegasus Hotel 16, to host a meeting with other similar organisations and stakeholders with a view to examining the role of human rights in respect of the LGBTI community in Jamaica. On November 16 two days before the scheduled meeting Mr Dane Lewis, Executive Director of J-FLAG, received a phone call from the hotel Director of Sales and Marketing who explained that because of the nature of work carried out by J-FLAG, the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel was not willing to allow such an event to take place on its premises.

On November 25, J-FLAG was invited to a meeting with the General Manager, Hotel Manager and the Director of Sales and Marketing of The Jamaica Pegasus, in response to the issue of J-FLAG being denied the rental of meeting space. Eldon Bremmer, the General Manger stated he was aware that J-FLAG's access to the premises for the above mentioned purpose was being denied, the decision he stated was based on an unfortunate experience from a private party with members of the community. The Management admitted that they had handled the situation badly and recognised a different approach was needed to address concerns. It was underscored by the management that J-FLAG would not in the future be prevented from booking the facilities.

Thank you fellow blogger at GLBTQJA Wordpress, I would have had to find this on the international scene or wait till The Pink Report posted it. Always on the ball! Good!

** Parts of this post were taken from  Front Line Protection of Human Rights Defenders and The Pink Report**

Saturday, November 20, 2010

International Transgender Day of Remembrance


The Transgender Day of Remembrance was set aside to memorialize those who were killed due to anti-transgender hatred or prejudice. The event is held in November to honor Rita Hester, whose murder on November 28th, 1998 kicked off the “Remembering Our Dead” web project and a San Francisco candlelight vigil in 1999. (Day of Remembrance)

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I must admit that I am not very actively involved with the local community, but I am an ally. We need to hear the issues of the transgendered community coming out just as we hear those of the lesbians, bisexuals and gays.

Removal of Sexual Orientation from UN Resolution Condemning Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions

Governments Remove Sexual Orientation from UN Resolution Condemning Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions

11/17/2010




For Immediate Release





Contact:


John Fisher

Co-Director

ARC International

ph: +41-79-508-3968

john@arc-international.net

www.arc-international.net


Sara Perle

Ric Weiland Research & Policy Associate

IGLHRC

ph: 212-430-6015

sperle@iglhrc.org



The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) and ARC International are deeply disappointed with yesterday’s vote in the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly to remove a reference to sexual orientation from a resolution on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions. The resolution urges States to protect the right to life of all people, including by calling on states to investigate killings based on discriminatory grounds. For the past 10 years, the resolution has included sexual orientation in the list of discriminatory grounds on which killings are often based.


The removed reference was originally contained in a non-exhaustive list in the resolution highlighting the many groups of people that are particularly targeted by killings - including persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, persons acting as human rights defenders (such as lawyers, journalists or demonstrators) as well as street children and members of indigenous communities. Mentioning sexual orientation as a basis on which people are targeted for killing highlights a situation in which particular vigilance is required in order for all people to be afforded equal protection.


The amendment removing the reference to sexual orientation was sponsored by Benin on behalf of the African Group in the UN General Assembly and was adopted with 79 votes in favor, 70 against, 17 abstentions and 26 absent.


“This vote is a dangerous and disturbing development,” said Cary Alan Johnson, Executive Director of IGLHRC. “It essentially removes the important recognition of the particular vulnerability faced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people - a recognition that is crucial at a time when 76 countries around the world criminalize homosexuality, five consider it a capital crime, and countries like Uganda are considering adding the death penalty to their laws criminalizing homosexuality.”


This decision in the General Assembly flies in the face of the overwhelming evidence that people are routinely killed around the world because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, and renders these killings invisible or unimportant. The Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions has highlighted documented cases of extrajudicial killings on the grounds of sexual orientation including individuals facing the death penalty for consensual same-sex conduct; individuals tortured to death by State actors because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation; paramilitary groups killing individuals because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation as part of “social cleansing” campaigns; individuals murdered by police officers with impunity because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation; and States failing to investigate hate crimes and killings of persons because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation.


"It is a matter of great shame that the responsible Committee of the United Nations General Assembly failed in its responsibility to explicitly condemn well-documented killings based on sexual orientation," said John Fisher, Co-Director of ARC international. "The credibility of the United Nations requires protection of all persons from violations of their fundamental human rights, including on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity. We thank those States which supported the inclusion of sexual orientation in the text, and will redouble our collective efforts to ensure that Member States of the United Nations maintain the standards they have sworn to uphold."


The amendment runs counter to other positive developments in UN and regional human rights systems where there is increased recognition of the need for protection from discrimination regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity. At a September 2010 panel held in conjunction with a session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon unequivocally recognized “the particular vulnerability of individuals who face criminal sanctions, including imprisonment and in some cases the death penalty, on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”


Sixty-eight countries have also signed a joint statement in the UN General Assembly on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity which calls for an end to “human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity … in particular the use of the death penalty on this ground [and] extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions.”


IGLHRC and ARC International urge all States, regardless of their vote on this amendment, to sign the UNGA joint statement affirming support of the human rights of all people, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity and to continue in efforts to decriminalize same-sex conduct and to end other discrimination, including violence, on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.


The votes to amend the resolution were as follows:


In favor of the amendment to remove sexual orientation from the resolution on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions (79):


Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belize, Benin, Botswana, Brunei Dar-Sala, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, China, Comoros, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Cuba, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Jamaica, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Mali, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syrian Arab Republic, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Uganda, United Arab Emirates, United Republic of Tanzania, Uzbekistan, Viet Nam, Yemen, Zambia, Zimbabwe


Opposed to the amendment to remove sexual orientation from the resolution on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions (70):


Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bhutan, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Iceland, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Micronesia (FS), Monaco, Montenegro, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Samoa, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Venezuela


Abstain (17):


Antigua-Barbuda, Barbados, Belarus, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Colombia, Fiji, Mauritius, Mongolia, Papau New Guinea, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Tuvalu, Vanuatu


Absent (26):


Albania, Bolivia, Central African Republic, Chad, Dominica, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Honduras, Kiribati, Kyrgyzstan, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Marshall Island, Mauritania, Nauru, Nicaragua, Palau, Sao Tome Principe, Seychelles, Solomon Islands, Togo, Tonga, Turkey, Turkmenistan










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My two cents

Backward, backward, backward. We take one step forward and then a whole lot of steps backward. We can't lose heart and give up though, must continue pushing and working. The problem in Jamaica is that many people view the basic human rights of lgbti people as special rights, and for that reason they resist. But how are they special rights? Because the individuals demanding the recognition of them fall in the lgbti category? Since when is right to life a special right?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Uganda nightmare and Jamaican's ignorance

On The Ground News Report on facebook posted an item about the recent publishing of the names and photographs of gays in Uganda. This particular news paper published for the second consecutive time, the names and photographs of some homosexuals living in Uganda, Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) sought an injunction against the paper. Uganda’s high court ordered Rolling Stone to stop publishing the names and photographs of people it says are gay, ruling that the publication is violating their right to privacy. 

The initial comments didn't surprise me, indeed as much as P.M. Golding would love to live under a rock and proclaim to the world that Jamaicans are loving tolerating people there are still the many who would take the same steps and encourage violence against GLBTQIs by doing the same thing the Ugandan paper- Rolling Stone- did.

One particular commenter seriously proved his ignorance and had me ranting and raving for a while before calming down in order to write. 

This particular commenter went ahead to voice a statement that many others would have voiced: "What has happen to the freedom of the press, what other people names can they now not publish" Hmm let me think for a while.... freedom of press? There is also the right to privacy and security of the person, I do believe that these two rights overrides this particular freedom. 

When the exercising of your particular right is going to put another person or group of persons into danger, or infringe upon their right then there has to be a balance with the exercising of that right. This doesn't apply only to these kinds of rights any right you can think of can infringe on someone else's right, that's one reason there are laws that govern our actions, it regulates society and the behaviour of society creating and maintaining (or ought to) a balance for the exercising of each right. 

Now I would seriously want to label this commenter an idiot but then is it not his right to express his thoughts? But shouldn't he exercise that right to the extent that it doesn't infringe on someone else's right? So if he believes and expresses that gays are evil and should be imprisoned that is his thought, BUT, if he INCITES others to go out and kill gays because they are evil and nasty then he has by his action and exercise of his right infringed up the right to life of a gay person. 

I understand the strong religious sentiments that are usually attached to the debate of homosexuality, however the hypocrisy that is entangled with it all would be amusing if it weren't that lives were at stake.  

Some comments voice the desire for the same to happen in Jamaica. And then what will happen? Bloodshed! What will that achieve?

P.M. Golding and those of you who believe that Jamaicans are oh so tolerant its time for you to stop being an ostrich take your heads out of the sand because you've left your backside unprotected to the possible consequences of your ignorance. 

JFLAG and Allies Affirm Jamaica's Heritage of Tolerance

On October 29 J-FLAG and allies held  a 30 minute Stand for Tolerance under the theme ‘Tolerance is Our Heritage’ will be held 200 yards from Jamaica House in the vicinity of the Police Officer’s Club, dressed in the Jamaica national colours and carried placards some of which read ‘Out of Many,One People,’ ‘Human Rights for All,’ ‘Equal Rights and Justice’, ‘Teach Us True Respect for All.’

Chairman of J-FLAG Gary Mullings reiterated that “as a people, Jamaicans have a heritage of struggling for our rights. Through the examples of our national heroes, whose dedication, service and sacrifice in shaping this nation we commemorate this Heritage month, we remember our fight for emancipation, workers rights and independence. The message of tolerance needs to be emphasized, as far too many cases of human rights violations are still being reported to us at J-FLAG, a clear indication that there is a challenge regarding the respect of the rights of LGBT Jamaicans."

Maurice Tomlinson of AIDS Free World clarified his organisation’s participation by stating that “intolerance of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons only serves to drive the HIVepidemic underground”. He encouraged the nation to “Follow the lead of our heroes who foughtfor the rights and dignity of all Jamaicans”.

Christine Smith, Chairperson of the all women group “Women For Women”, said that WFW’sinvolvement in this initiative was to remind Jamaicans that they can tolerate diversity andrespect the rights of all Jamaicans, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The intent of the stand is to remind Jamaicans that tolerance has been a hallmark of Jamaican society and that tolerance for gay,lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered Jamaicans is a fundamental part of our diversity.

Interestingly there weren't many slurs being hurled at the group, compared to the last stand. Nor was there any the regular rhetoric of  Bible readers. The group received a some amount of affirmation including thumps ups and horn tooting (from known supporters and other).

We see the participation of various allies and groups yet a very important group has been missing from all events- Sunshine Cathedral Jamaica (SCJ). The last activity that SCJ participated in was the Walk for Tolerance in April of this year. Hello!!!!! SCJ Wake Up!! History is being recorded where are you?? The church needs to show itself.

I commend J-FLAG for its now persistent and regular stands. I do believe we can now safely say that J-FLAG has stepped up (or once again stepped up?) to the advocacy plate and is seriously batting for the rights of the persons it represents. It's my sincerest hope that J-FLAG and its supporters will continue to mount advocacy initiatives aimed at securing the human rights of LGBT members.

Below are images from the Stand.







Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Spirit Day- wearing purple to end anti-LGBT bullying

WEAR PURPLE ON OCTOBER 20 FOR SPIRIT DAY

How can you help show your support for the teens who took their lives because of anti-LGBT bullying?
1. Wear purple on Wednesday, October 20!

2. Twitter pic: Click here to turn your Twitter profile pic purple now through October 20

3. Facebook pic: Click here to create a purple version of your Facebook profile pic - Then look for the purple photo in a new photo album called "Twibbons," click on the purple photo, and click "Make Profile Picture." Works best on square profile pictures. 
4. On Wednesday, post this tweet: I'm wearing purple to end anti-LGBT bullying - make your profile pic purple today #SpiritDay http://glaad.org/spiritday

5. On Wednesday, post this Facebook status: I'm wearing purple today to support LGBT youth - make your profile pic purple today for Spirit Day at http://glaad.org/spiritday


6. Help promote by downloading this graphic for your blog or website
    On Twitter? Use the hashtag #SpiritDay in your tweets - let's make #SpiritDay a trending topic!

    Facebook Twitter
    WHAT IS SPIRIT DAY?

    The idea behind Spirit Day, first created by teenager Brittany McMillan earlier this month, is a simple one, not dissimilar to the idea of "Spirit Week" held in many high schools, and can be summed up in three words: Everyone Rally Together.
    Spirit Day honors the teenagers who had taken their own lives in recent weeks. But just as importantly, it's also a way to show the hundreds of thousands of LGBT youth who face the same pressures and bullying, that there is a vast community of people who support them.
    Purple symbolizes 'spirit' on the rainbow flag, a symbol for LGBT Pride that was created by Gilbert Baker in 1978.
    As one of the event's Facebook pages says: "This event is not a seminar nor is it a rally. There is NO meeting place. All you have to do is wear purple." 
    Wearing purple on October 20 is a simple way to show the world that you stand by these courageous young people and a simple way to stand UP to the bullies. Remember those lives we've tragically lost, and show your solidarity with those who are still fighting. 'Go Purple' today!  

    ARE YOU IN NEED OF IMMEDIATE HELP?

    LGBT youth in need of immediate help should contact The Trevor Project 's 24/7 Lifeline at 866-4-U-TREVOR (866-488-7386) or The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

    MEDIA/BLOGGER CONTACT

    Read the press release.

    Download a graphic for your website or blog. 

    Rich Ferraro
    Director of Public Relations
    ferraro@glaad.org
    (646) 871-8011

    Thursday, October 14, 2010

    This Issue of Morality

    What is morality? Let’s look at two definitions of the word:


    • Concern with the distinction between good and evil or right and wrong; right or good conduct [1].
    • A particular system of values and principles of conduct, especially one held by a specified person or society [2].



    It seems many persons in this morally upright and “fervently Christian country[3]” would prefer their daughters to become single mothers from as young as 16, and their sons to become criminals, than for them to be gay, lesbian, or even bisexual. What kind of messed morality is that?

    Then these same persons say that homosexuals are morally degenerate, and countries accepting homosexuality and the acts of homosexuality are the last forms of moral depravation.

    It always amuses me that Christians (since those are the persons I come in contact with on a daily basis) draw regularly on Biblical passages to condemn homosexuality, I hope to deal with some of those passages in subsequent posts. Yet how often do you hear them draw references to Biblical passages to deal with these issues of teenage pregnancy, fornication, and crimes? Although none is greater than the other (if you believe homosexuality is a sin) it seems as though homosexuality has become the biggest sin.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, aren’t the promiscuity, fornication, murders, greed, etc. celebrated throughout different aspects of our society, morally degrading as well?

    Family life is decaying and homosexuality is not the cause as many religious people would love for us to think. With society (globally) becoming increasingly tolerant, more persons are feeling comfortable disclosing their sexual orientation, and so the need for some persons to live a heterosexual lifestyle to avoid societal wrath, and to please family and friends, reduces or in some cases is eliminated. This panic- that homosexuality will lead to greater divorces has yet to be established, as the causes of divorces (throughout my reading) do not touch on the acceptance of sexuality. Interestingly a 2008 journal piece (Marriage, as we know it, is worth saving) on the National Organization for Marriage website[4] states that divorce rates are declining slightly.

    Just look at gambling it has been around for a very long time, I don’t know what the public outcry was when it was first being introduced, but I know of the outcry when PM Golding decided to legalise casino gambling; that was another factor eating at the morality of the Jamaican society, yet how long and loud was the cry? How could the PM, in a September interview say that we are a largely Christian nation and so our morals are based on Christian principles, yet decide to legalise casino gambling. Hello am I the only one to whom that doesn’t make sense?

    Why is it that one set of values can be bent while another held so rigidly? Since the Bible is the basis for majority of our principles (PM interview Sept 2010) then its rules should be the same right across the board.

    Monday, September 27, 2010

    Follow Up on the Stand Up To Violence

    Have you seen the news of the RJR website of the Stand Up To Violence? The News Centre checked with the police to confirm the allegations. In my humble opinion the police wouldn't have the cases recorded as ones of corrective rape as I don't believe any of the women had disclosed their orientation nor had any made claims that they were raped because of their sexuality. 

    Also I think that they would not have disclosed such information for fear that their cases would have been dealt with differently, or fear that such information would get out and instead of things becoming better, get worse.

    The police being unable to confirm such accusations, paints in the public's eye (esp those of the dark and ignorant ones) that JFLAG, and by extension the community is making up these stories.

    One commenter asked “Since when lesbian is a community?” My humble answer would be:
    1. Mr. Lewis said LGB community
    2. What is a community? A social group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists.
    3. By the above definition I believe any reasonable person would agree that lesbians, gays, and bisexuals form a community.


    Another commenter wrote:

    “In reference to the first comment ‘Since when is lesbian a community?’

    We have to be a community, as others in the wider community fight us with such hatred. These incidents did occur, (and many more which are not reported) the problem is that the persons did not identify themselves as Lesbians and why should they, would it make a difference in the way they were handled......, maybe.

    I have heard such derogatory statements from those who should be protecting us ‘all dem need is a good man to f… dem’ and ‘sodomite fi ded’, what would give us the impetus to report these incidents and identify yourself as a Lesbian.”

    Of course the comment was censored and the second part of the above comment was removed, I therefore received the complete comment directly from the commenter (JB). 

    You can view the report and comments here.

    It is good to see though that action is being taken to bring to light the perils of the lesbian and bisexual female population. As it used to be a noted issue that the lesbians and bisexual females seemed to be left out.

    Friday, September 24, 2010

    Stand Up To Violence


    I'm sick and tired of the religious hypocrisy, ignorant comments and downright bankruptcy of our sense of compassion, as a society; you don't have to accept something in order to understand and sympathise with a cause.

    Since when does it become acceptable for a lesbian or lesbians to be raped so that they may be 'corrected' and 'cured' of their lesbianism? Since when is it ok for the compassionate Christian nation to agree that raping of lesbians is ok, that the killing of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders ok, that threatening, verbally abusing, and assaults is ok, in the name of God? What kind of God agrees with these things? How can anyone justifiably argue that that is ok? How much further down can this nation go?


    Today there was a STAND UP TO VIOLENCE at Emancipation Park, complete with rainbow flags, the Jamaican flag, and placards. Several human rights organizations took part. Of course you expect the rhetoric of Bible quoting to take place, which did occur, to the amusement of some of the participants (not on a point 

    of irreligiously but on the picky chosey nature of condemnations from the OT-Old Testament- and NT-New Testament-). There were not as many participants as had been anticipated- due to the rain-, but it was over all a productive day.


    The news was reported on On The Ground News Reports, a screen shot of comments can be seen below

















    These are just some of the comments the rest can be seen by visiting On The Ground News Reports facebook page here.


    The official press release from JLAG is below, and may also be seen here

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    J-FLAG & Human Rights Activists call for an end to violence against LGBT Community

    Kingston --- September 24, 2010


    Despite calls for tolerance by our religious, political and social leaders, attacks against Jamaica's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender population continue unabated. The latest such attacks occurred this September when knife wielding thugs carried out 'corrective rapes' of two lesbians in separate incidents within days of each other.


    In response to these most recent attacks and the seeming inability or unwillingness of the nation's political leaders to curb them, the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) and its human rights allies held a 30 minutes silent 'Stand Up to Violence' in front of Emancipation Park on Friday, September 24, 2010 which began at 7:40am.

    Dane Lewis, Executive Director of J-FLAG, hailed the event as a success despite the delayed start because of the rain. This was also measured by the broad based support received from numerous allies & agencies, including Jamaica AIDS Support for Life, members of Jamaicans for Justice, Pride in Action, Women for Women, Sex Work Association of Jamaica, Sunshine Cathedral Jamaica, Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition and AIDS Free World.

    International defence attorney Lord Anthony Gifford, QC, noted that "the issue of violence against gays and lesbians is a human rights issue and I was taking a stand to support that as it is important to keep the issue of rights in the public's consciousness." Susan Goffe, member of Jamaicans For Justice, said "it is important to understand the effect of homophobic rhetoric and the feeling that it is alright to target members of the LGBT community. The state must clearly illustrate by its action that it defends and protects the rights of women and this includes all women regardless of their sexuality. The acts against these women should unambiguously be condemned."

    Participants held up placards which read 'Gay or Straight, Let's all Tolerate', 'Gays have Rights,' and 'Stop the Hate Before It's Too Late', 'Live and Let Love', 'Equal Rights & Justice' and 'Out of Many One People'.

    While pointing to the need for strong action to be taken against gender based violence in any form, Programme Manager at Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition, Ivan Cruickshank appealed to all well thinking Jamaicans to join in promoting and protecting the rights of all citizens regardless of their sexual orientation.


    The following persons may be contacted for an interview:

    Susan Goffe – 815-3648

    Dane Lewis – 978-8988/ 875-2328



    Dane Lewis
    Executive Director
    Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays – J-FLAG
    Tel/ Fax: (876)978-8988
    Website: http://www.jflag.org/
    email: admin@jflag.org













    Thursday, September 23, 2010

    Other Acts of Violence from the Northern End of the Island

    In the past three weeks there have been (to my knowledge) two horrific cases of rape against members of the lesbian community.

    Information passed to me from a reliable source stated that the first reported case was in the first week of September. A butch female was reportedly kidnapped and raped by six men in the St. Ann area on September 3. The matter was reported to the police who took her to the parish public hospital where she was treated. Since hearing of the incident I have not been fortunate to hear any more of her or her situation. It seems she was specifically targeted as she is a known lesbian, for this reason then this seems to have been a case of “corrective rape”.

    The second incident happened just two weeks later. Another lesbian was kidnapped and held at knife point and raped. This also happened in the St. Ann region. Her matter was also reported to the police and she was taken to the hospital where she was treated.

    It must be said that the police (in the second case I’m sure) handled this matter in a somewhat professional way. The sexuality of the individual (second case) was not disclosed during the taking of the statement and one can only hope that such a disclosure would not have made a difference in the treatment of her case.
    Both cases were orally reported to WfW (Women for Women) and JFLAG (Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays). WfW (being the first to be informed and having been approached for help by one of the women) stepped in and provided support. JFLAG having also been approached has offered to help in the instance of relocation and counseling.

    The police (as far as I can tell) and the support from the groups within the community should be commended for their support and professionalism that was displayed to these women. 

    Saturday, July 24, 2010

    Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender & Queer Jamaica: Lesbians and Safer sex ........

    Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender & Queer Jamaica: Lesbians and Safer sex ........

    My comment:

    More lesbians and WSWs need to know of this as many believe that they're not at risk of HIV and so they tend also to over look other sexual infections.

    Then comes the part where you put your knowledge into action. I have the knowledge, but action? I honestly believe its easier to to get a male to put on a condom than for WSWs to use dental dams. I'm certainly not turned on at the thought of using a square of latex to have sex :(

    Its gonna be necessary though to educate WSWs, sensitize and encourage them to practice safer sex. also we need to have more research done in the WSW community world wide and also locally.

    My two cents.

    Thursday, July 15, 2010

    Latin American Victory and my thoughts

    Yay!! Argentina legalised same-sex marriages today, becoming the first country in Latin America to grant all the legal rights, responsibilities and protections that marriage gives to heterosexual couples, nationwide. The vote ended after 4 a.m. in Argentina's senate.

    Wow this is great, we have same-sex civil unions legalised in Uruguay and some states in Mexico and Brazil. Then there is the Constitutional Court in Columbia granting same-sex couples inheritance rights and allowing them to add their partners to health insurance plans. Finally Mexico City seeking to 'out-do' (?) all others legalises gay marriage and launches tourism campaigns to encourage foreigners to come and wed.

    Of course with the victory comes the cries of Christians and various Christian groups. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio said, "children need to have the right to be raised and educated by a father and a mother." "Marriage between a man and a woman has existed for centuries, and is essential for the perpetuation of the species," insisted Sen. Juan Perez Alsina.

    Let me look at these statements.

    Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio says children ought to have the right to be raised and educated by mother and father. Question, does giving gay couples the right to marry mean that all children will be denied being raised by a mother and a father? No. This is so because not all persons will be gay and, not all persons will chose to be married to someone of the same-sex. Therefore for children born to heterosexual couples they will be raised and educated by mother and father. One more question though; I wonder what the Cardinal would have to say about those children born to single mothers or those raised and educated by single parents?

    "Marriage between a man and a woman has existed for centuries, and is essential for the perpetuation of the species," insisted Sen. Juan Perez Alsina. Seriously Senator are you going to decry gay marriage based on a tradition that has been around for centuries? If we were to follow tradition:
    1) Women would have remained as property, and inferior to men
    2)Slavery would have remained
    3) Segregation and racism would have remained and applied to the free slaves and mulattoes
    Tradition, Sen. Juan Perez Alsina, is not always good there are times and stages within development when tradition is no longer practicable and so we have to develop new traditions and practices.

    "Marriage... is essential for the perpetuation of the species", Senator! Legalising gay marriage does not mean that tomorrow morning all persons will want to get married to someone of the same-sex, it does not mean that heterosexual couples will be prevented from getting married. So if marriage is essential to ensure the longevity of the human race then single men and women should be forced to marry and have children, and couples who cannot reproduce should be forced to divorce.

    Though we see these arguments being made here they are the same arguments that opponents of gay marriage use world-wide. Are these fears irrational? Probably at first glance they seem that way but when you think about it they aren't irrational. If these persons would just listen, then its possible that some of these fears could be spoken about and each could help the other to understand one-another.

    I'm happy for this victory in Latin America and looking for the day when the fever will spread through Latin America and even further into the Caribbean, it may be a long way off but it's not impossible, for with God all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).

    Tek Care
    Alexis

    Monday, July 5, 2010

    JFLAG at it again







    The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) mounted a Stand Up to CARICOM across from the entrance to the Hilton Rose Hall Resort, Montego Bay, Jamaica, the site of the 31st CARICOM Heads of Government meeting. The continued presence of "anti-buggery laws in 11 of the 14 member states in CARICOM which contribute to discrimination, marginalization and other serious human rights violations of CARICOM citizens", lead to the decision to 'mount the stand' (Jason McFarlane, Programme Manager of J-FLAG).  The group bore placards calling for the repeal of the anti-buggery laws, as well as an end to gay discrimination and improved human rights for all citizens in CARICOM. The group was able to stand peacefully for 17 minutes before they were professionally asked by the police to relocate due to security concerns. 


    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    I haven't heard of any physical violence against the group only verbal assaults and a few finger showing, otherwise it seems to have gone over smoothly. It wasn't on the news either so may we assume that it was a low keyed event and accomplished that objective? Lets watch the news media in the coming days to see what may happen. Overall though I'm happy that all things turned out well. It does seem that J-FLAG is indeed coming out of its hiding place and aiming to silence dissenting and frustrated community members and bloggers. J-FLAG seems to be more active now as well, remember the Walk for Tolerance in April, the Stand Against Silence in May, the remembrance of a life lost done in June, and now a stand against CARICOM. Is this just one of those phases that will come to an end soon, or something that will continue? Only time can tell.


    Tek Care
    Alexis

    J-FLAG Remembers Fallen Brother and Calls for an End to Hate Crimes

    Montego Bay --- June 18, 2010

    June is International Gay Pride month and today marks the sixth (6th) anniversary of the mob slaying in Montego Bay of 26 year old Victor Jarrett on the mere suspicion of being gay. Victor was on Dump-up beach with some friends when two police officers approached, accused him of being gay and watching men on the beach. They started hurling insults at him and ordering him to leave the public beach. A mob soon formed and Victor was chased from the beach into his community in Canterbury St. James where he was bludgeoned to death.

    To commemorate this tragic event, J-FLAG organized a memorial on Dump-up beach under the theme ‘Never Again’ to draw attention to hate crimes which continue to be perpetuated against Jamaican gays and lesbians. While police instigated attacks against Jamaica’s gay community have declined in recent times, there is insufficient prosecution of crimes committed by private citizens.

    Jason McFarlane, Programme Manager at J-FLAG stated ‘We are here to honour Victor’s memory, calling to the mind the many brothers and sisters who have suffered at the hands of Jamaica’s intolerance towards gays. It is sad that in 2010 gays and lesbians are still being attacked and beaten because of their sexual orientation. Maurice Tomlinson of AIDS Free World stated “We are proud to stand with this group to call for an end to the intolerance and abuse of members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community which is driving them underground and severely undermining the national fight against HIV.”

    Despite Jamaica signing onto three OAS Resolutions condemning violence against citizens because of their sexual orientation and gender identity, the country continues to record numerous human rights abuses of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender citizens. Between 2009 and 2010, J-FLAG received reports of some 16 cases of persons who suffered some form of discrimination and abuse including but not limited to being ejected from their homes, Lesbians being raped to ‘make them straight.’ and men being stabbed.

    A wreath of 26 red roses representing Victor’s age and 6 yellow representing the years since his death lay on a rainbow flag symbolizing the reason for his murder. Participants shared memories of Victor being a mild-mannered, warm, caring, fun-loving friend. At the end of the brief memorial participants scattered petals off the roses in the sea representing the waste of a beautiful life.

    Tek Care
    Alexis

    Thursday, June 24, 2010

    Looks like an anti-homophobia campaign to you?

    Well this is interesting. I won't say there has never been an anti-homophobia campaign but this is the first that I can remember, it needs to reach mainstream media now but I must say its a good start. We need more of these with other persons speaking out.

    Well for those of us disgruntled with JFLAG's work- generally speaking I still am but,- they seem to be making efforts in some aspects -in a bid to silence our stinging criticisms at times?-, too bad it seems they have passed over and are still passing over some of the basic aspects and needs of the community.

    Saturday, June 5, 2010

    Lesbophobia (for want of a better word)

    I'm not a sociologist or psychologist. I'm just one of your everyday lesbians who until recently never really felt the brunt of lesbo-phobia from the MSM (Men who have sex with men) community. Now technically speaking it may not have been lesbo-phobia in so many characters but it was sure discriminatory.

    I'm part of a volunteer programme which (in this particular aspect) it is my responsibility as a volunteer to disseminate information on safe sex practices. I as well as a number of other persons have cried out that this programme is geared towards Men who have Sex with Men (MSMs) and that it ignores or at the very most pushes to the back burner the needs of Women who have Sex with Women (WSWs), Transgendered folk and all the others who fall under this umbrella.

    I've always heard WSWs say that they would never work with MSMs because the MSMs dislike them, have no respect for them or something along those lines. As I said before I've never really gotten the brunt of it or any of it for that matter (not to my face anyway). I'm known to be an associate of all and friend of few. I shun no MSM so long as he can carry himself good and don't draw me into the beating he may get because of his behaviour on the road. For this reason I assume (with good reason) that I'm loved or at least tolerated by many and hated by few.

    Today in our regular meeting of the volunteers I discretely offered to do a presentation on Leadership and Mentoring since it has been the wide cry that many of these MSMs don't know how to conduct themselves. At the end of the meeting the moderator stated that the next meeting there will be a presentation on leadership and mentoring by a member of our group. All was well until someone said I hope it is a MSM because I don't want a WSW or other non-MSM to do a presentation (not exact words). Now everyone was quite shocked by the statement and of course questioned him. He went on to say that he doesn't mean to insult anyone but that this is a programme for MSMs so it should be MSMs presenting and that even I as a WSW wasn't really to be counted (again to exact words). Now I won't lie I did get upset. I told him that though I'm a WSW I still have to meet with MSMs in order to continue on this volunteer programme and that I as a WSW is part of the greater lgbt community.

    I pointed to him that the MSMs are not separate and apart from the rest of the community. I also pointed out to him that it is for this reason that MANY WSWs do not help, work, mingle, volunteer, participate (in anyway) with MSMs, for we are discounted. I did get quite angry lashing out saying "dats why sometime mi nuh like battyman" (that's why I sometimes I don't like gay men) pretty harsh but it was in anger and everyone understood what I meant. (No disrespect to my many gay and bisexual male friends I still love you guys)

    This unquestionable discrimination came from someone within the community. This is how we tear down each other, in simple ways such as this. For had I been more upset and had not received an apology I probably would have left quite angry and be ready to leave the MSMs to 'work out their own salvation', I've felt that way before by the sheer behaviour of some of these MSMs. Today's encounter brings me back to a question I've asked either here or to others. How can we in a community subject to so much intolerance, hate, torture, homophobia continue with this phobia among our own ranks? We fight each other butch fight butch, femme fight femme, top fight top, bottom fight bottom, gays fight lesbians and on and on and on (I don't know much of the TG community nor their fights but I can imagine it is there as well).

    Yes there will be differences, we don't live in a perfect place, and we're imperfect people, but jeezam peez mek wi try live betta nuh man (my gosh let's try to live better please guys(and gals)).


    Saturday, May 29, 2010

    Gay couple imprisoned in Malawi pardoned and freed

    Under pressure, Malawi's leader pardons gay couple

    By RAPHAEL TENTHANI, Associated Press Writer – Sat May 29, 7:37 pm ET


    BLANTYRE, Malawi – Malawi's president on Saturday pardoned a gaycouple who had been sentenced to 14 years in prison and ordered their release but insisted that homosexuality was still illegal in his conservative southern African nation.

    President Bingu wa Mutharika announced the pardon on "humanitariangrounds only" during a press conference with U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Lilongwe, the capital.

    "These boys committed a crime against our culture, against our religion, and against our laws," Mutharika said. "However, as head of state, I hereby pardon them and therefore order their immediate release without any conditions."

    But he added, "We don't condone marriages of this nature. It's unheard of in Malawi and it's illegal."

    Malawi had faced international condemnation for the conviction and harsh sentencing of Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza, who were arrested in December, a day after celebrating their engagement.

    After the pardon, activists were searching for a safe house for the couple, fearing they could be attacked upon release.

    Ban praised Mutharika's decision but said "laws that criminalize sexuality should be repealed."

    In Washington, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs also praised the move, urging an end to "the persecution and criminalization" ofsexual orientation and gender identity.

    Earlier this week, the top U.N. AIDS official and the head of an international donor organization met with Mutharika and expressed concern that criminalizing homosexuality would keep a vulnerable group from seeking AIDS treatment.

    Joseph Amon of Human Rights Watch said the president was responding to the international outcry.

    "I hope that other leaders of African countries with anti-gay laws see that this is just not acceptable in the international community," Amon told The Associated Press by telephone from New York.

    Malawi is among 37 African countries with anti-gay laws.

    In Senegal, police have rounded up men suspected of being homosexual and beaten them, and a mob last year pulled the corpse of a gay man from his grave, spat on it and dumped it at the home of his elderly parents.

    In Zimbabwe this month, two employees of a gay organization spent six days in jail on allegations of possessing indecent material and insulting President Robert Mugabe, an outspoken critic of homosexuality.

    In Uganda, a proposed law would impose the death penalty for some gays.

    Even in South Africa, the only African country that recognizes gay rights, lesbians have been gang-raped.

    In Malawi, a judge convicted and sentenced Chimbalanga and Monjeza earlier this month on charges of unnatural acts and gross indecency under colonial-era laws. Crowds of Malawians had heckled the two during court hearings, with some saying that 14 years at hard labor — the harshest possible sentence — was not long enough.

    Undule Mwakasungure, a gay rights activist in Malawi, told The AP on Saturday that he was concerned about the men's safety and was working with other activists to find a safe house for them or help them temporarily leave the country.

    "There is homophobic sentiment. I think they might be harmed," Mwakasungure said.

    Edi Phiri, who fled from Malawi to Britain five years ago after being beaten because he was gay, said the two might need to seek asylum outside of Malawi.

    "They will be out of prison, but what will happen next?" Phiri said. "The community will see them as outcasts. I don't think they will be safe in Malawi."

    Maxwell Manda said his brother-in-law Chimbalanga was pleased by the ruling and told the AP earlier that Chimbalanga wanted to leave Malawi upon his release.

    "He has been down all week because he was separated from his partner. He is happy now," Manda said.

    Chimbalanga had been held at a Blantyre prison, while Monjeza was sent to an institution 50 miles (90 kilometers) away. Prison officials said the separation was a security measure.

    The activists hoped the presidential pardon would help their efforts to overturn Malawi's anti-gay laws and attitudes.

    "The public needs to appreciate that the world is changing," Mwakasungure said. "It won't be easy ... we're not talking about changing the law today or tomorrow. But we have to start the process."

    Even though the pardon was immediate, a prison spokesman told The AP they had not received notification to release the two men by Saturday afternoon.


    Tuesday, May 25, 2010

    Jamaica's Ongoing crisis

    I'm really not sure what I should say as it regards all of this upsurge of violence. I was quite annoyed and upset in the beginning following the disclosure by PM Bruce Golding that he 'sanctioned' the hiring of Manatt, Phelps and Phillips (MPP) law firm in his capacity as Leader of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) (that admission can be found here). This resulted in many areas of society calling for his resignation. Many Jamaican's here and in the diaspora found that the PM had 'misled' the population, taking us for 'poppy-shows' (fools).

    The irony of the PM's admission was that in 2006 he made it his duty to point out that a minister of government cannot separate his position in the government from his political party position.
            
                    "we can't just jump out of one skin and jump into another. And we have to understand that given the nature of our political system, when we act as a minister to whatever extent, we carry party responsibilities, that you are not going to be able to simply separate them, that the one is going to impact on the other, especially when what you are seeking to do in the one capacity is contingent on the constitutional powers that you have in the other capacity. Cannot be separated".

    As the saying goes "cock mouth kill cock" [watch your mouth it can get you in trouble] its so true and relevant to what has transpired. 

    Following his admission on May 13th, PM Golding addressed the nation. Many persons however refused to accept his apology and called it a carefully crafted speech designed to be politically correct and to appeal to the people. In that address he announced that the extradition request for Christopher 'Dudus' Coke (the man at the heart of this all) would be signed. It left the people with more questions than answers among which: why the sudden change in position? 

    One week after PM announced that the request would be signed he once addressed the nation regarding the limited state of emergency that had been declared in Kingston and St. Andrew. With the all out assault on Tivoli Gardens by the security forces (police and Jamaica Defence Force) there have been bloodshed on both sides (security forces and gunmen). 

    This has brought to the fore the discussions that all these garrison communities that exist and are allowed to flourish need to be dismantled. The political support they receive is disturbing- the company which Mr Coke is a shareholder has accumulated over $100 million in government contracts, over $70 million less than a year after the JLP assumed power (news article here). Therefore with these funding no wonder these 'dons' are able to provide the basic social necessities for their communities (food, education, shelter, clothing, jobs) which the state should have been providing. Because of this, these don's have then effectively assumed power and authority within these communities. 

                                           (Jamaica Observer Cartoon May 20, 2010)

    How will the government tackle this ugly crime monster that has been allowed to fester for all these years? It is no longer a matter of party politics we're all Jamaican's and this is our country. IT IS TIME THAT WE THE PEOPLE OF JAMAICA TAKE BACK JAMAICA. 

                                              (Jamaica Observer Cartoon May 25, 2010)

    We cannot however do it on our own this requires divine intervention. I'm well aware that some persons who read this blog aren't Christians but whatever religion or beliefs you adhere to please put Jamaica in your prayers, or thoughts or positive energy, what ever you call it. 

    For us Christians, as strong as we may feel we are we are but dust and only human. We by ourselves are not strong enough to bring about this change. I then ask that we all pray, for the safety of all Jamaicans, for peace, for the restoration of the nation. 

    Below are links to news articles describing the situation in Jamaica up to the time of this post.

    Attack On State - Police Stations Set Ablaze Cop Shot, Civilian Slain
    Soldier killed
    Tivoli Bangarang
    What needs do the community have that have been left unattended or barely attended to?
    Directory of doctors and medical personnel
    Support for young LGBTIs
    Homelessness
    Other
      
    pollcode.com free polls