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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.







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