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Friday, February 25, 2011

Why We Need The Petition Signed

I would like to believe that there is a wind of change blowing throughout the world and that right here in Jamaica a wind of change is also blowing. For Jamaica, that change is the way in which the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, queer and intersex (GLBTQI) people deal with the homophobia meted out to them. The Petition: Include Sexual Orientation based anti-Discrimination in the Charter of Fundamental Rights & Freedoms, marks yet another attempt to register our disgust, at the blatant rejection of our human rights. 

The following videos and links you will see, all speak to the culture that permeates our society and why it is necessary, for the rights of GLBTQI people to be protected. 

In 2008, on the BBC's Hard Talk, Jamaican Prime Minister Bruce Golding stated that, 'crimes against persons based on sexual orientation must be pursued with the same vigor as any other crime', why then does the Jamaican Parliament still refuse to include sexual orientation in the non-discriminatory laws found in the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms? PM Golding then plays the values and morality card, stating that the people of the land will not allow the imposition by any foreign lobby groups on their values; I ask therefore, what about the lobby groups within Jamaica, made up of Jamaicans, fighting for the rights of Jamaicans? Are these not internal lobby groups? Why then are they not listened to? Furthermore, please explain to me why Parliament which is led by the same person who says, "I want to live in a Jamaica where persons are free to conduct their private relations", relentlessly hold onto sections 76, 77, 79 Offences Against the Persons Act? Below is the video from the talk show.

 He states (in the above video) that he believes that the culture of violence towards gays and lesbians is changing, yet based on the videos and comments below, did PM Golding really believe that attitudes are changing or was that just  a matter of lip service? Later in 2009, PM Golding again states "we have become quite tolerant." Mr. Golding would like the world to believe, that the international media exaggerates the incidences of homophobia in this country, and that, "homosexuals in and they enjoy their relationship [sic]". 

Below are comments taken from the above videos


There are also incidents of hate meted out to lesbians, bisexuals, and transgendered people:

'A lesbian couple in south central Jamaica, had their home picketed by residents and their car tyres deflated. Later while they women proceeded to replaced the tyres, some men living nearby started jeering and mocking the females and threatened them to leave the house' (GLBTQJA)

According to one of my sources, a MTF (male to female) tansgendered person who has had a legal name change, and outwardly appears female, has not been able to find work in her chosen field. This may be as a result of her qualifications being under her previous identity and also a purposeful case of discrimination based on her being transgendered. 

Other incidents:

Corrective rapes are also increasing in Jamaica, the logic aspect of these escape me as I cannot understand how raping a woman will change her sexual orientation:

"What is illegal in Jamaica is buggery, which is in fact making homosexual acts illegal. There have been very, very few prosecutions; very, very few", (Is Jamaica Homophobic?) the fact that buggery is still on the books increases the animosity toward the gay community, and though there have been very few prosecutions, it leaves a door open that should have been closed a long time ago. Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that, "no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy...Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks." The following incident below is a blatant disregard and breach of Article 12:

"On the evening of January 29, a group of men approached a house where four males lived in the central Jamaican town of Mandeville, and demanded that they leave the community because they were gay, according to human rights defenders who spoke with the victims. Later that evening, a mob returned and surrounded the house. The four men inside called the police when they saw the crowd gathering; the mob started to attack the house, shouting and throwing bottles. Those in the house called police again and were told that the police were on the way. Approximately half an hour later, 15-20 men broke down the door and began beating and slashing the inhabitants." 

Other incidents of discrimination and violence, and social opinion may be found at GLAPN.

It is high time, that Jamaica, it's people and government took their heads out of the sand and look at what is going on around them. A country in which the state and church are separate, must also separate their religious views from law making. A Christian in a democratic, non-religious state should not impose upon all persons, irrespective of their religion or culture, laws that are reflective of only Christianity. Christianity is not needed to defend morality; by societal's standards it is morally wrong to murder, rape, steal etc. A law that is passed that may be against the religious views of another, does not have to be acted upon by that person. I believe that each person should exercise any and all of their rights, within the legal framework of a country and so long as it does not infringe upon the right to life of another. 

Jamaica needs to wake up! The GLBTQI community needs to stand up, and the support of others will come! 

Petition: Include Sexual Orientation based anti-Discrimination in the Charter of Fundamental Rights & Freedoms

Target: Jamaican Parliament
Region: Jamaica

Respect and tolerance is fundamental to enabling individuals, regardless of religion, gender, socio-economic status or sexual orientation, to claim and enjoy their human rights.Background (Preamble):

J-FLAG continues to observe and articulate the implications of the absence of a specific legal instrument to protect and promote the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Jamaicans. While the enactment of laws alone will not change the engrained discrimination within our society, the presence of discriminatory laws coupled with the lack of specific protections continue to contribute to the high incidences of stigma, discrimination, harassment and other forms of abuse as well as death of Jamaicans who are, and in some cases perceived to be gay or lesbian.

In 2010, J-FLAG received and documented over forty incidences of human rights abuses meted out to members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Jamaica. For example, there were two mob invasions of the homes of men suspected to be gay in February. On separate occasions, two females were raped by men who attempted to sexually cleanse them and make them heterosexual women. Additionally, two gay men were violently murdered including a cross-dresser known as “Charm” in December 2010, because they identify as gay.

In the majority of cases, there have been little or no thorough investigation and/or prosecutions for such inhumane acts unless the case has been labeled ‘high profile’. Jamaica’s adoption of the OAS Resolutions 2435 and 2504 on ‘Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity’ in 2008 and 2009 is in keeping with the United Nations Resolution on Extrajudicial Killings which binds Jamaica “to investigate promptly and thoroughly all killings, including… all killings committed for any discriminatory reason, including sexual orientation”. These resolutions symbolize a commitment by the Government of Jamaica to protect persons on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity from human rights abuses.

Since Jamaica gained Independence from Britain in 1962, parliamentarians have continued to ignore the rampant breach of rights meted out to all persons, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Jamaicans. Sexuality-based oppression in Jamaica is also enforced by many entertainers, religious leaders, educators, police officers, doctors and nurses.

Since January 2007, J-FLAG recorded the homophobic murder of eight men and more than one-hundred persons who have been victim of incidents ranging from bribery to serious bodily harm. Countless others have been stigmatized and discriminated against, beaten or forced to leave their communities because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

The discriminatory laws in Sections 76 and 77 referring to “Unnatural Crime” and 79 – “Outrages on Decency” of the Offences Against the Person Act that remain on the books as relics of our British colonial past are often used by persons to silence, suppress and intimidate gay Jamaicans or those offering much needed services and support.

Despite the acknowledgement that gay Jamaicans are vulnerable to stigma, discrimination and violence, this has had no effect on Jamaica.

We urge parliamentarians to recognise the effect these discriminatory laws have on our society. We urge them to remove these laws which can hinder our goal to become the place to live, work, raise families and do business.

We the undersigned believe that an important step to begin this process in the proposed Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms which in its current state does not prohibit discrimination on the grounds of gender and sexual orientation.

The Include Sexual Orientation based anti-Discrimination in the Charter of Fundamental Rights & Freedoms petition to Jamaican Parliament was written by Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals & Gays and is in the category Human Rights at GoPetition. Contact author herePetition tags: 

This Buju Banton Thing

Popular reggae artiste Mark Myrie better known as Buju Banton, was found guilty in a Florida court, on three charges on Tuesday, February 22. The artiste was found guilty of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute five or more kilogrammes of cocaine, attempted possession with the intent to distribute cocaine, and using the wires to facilitate a drug-trafficking offence. He was found not guilty of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug-trafficking offence.(On the Ground News Reports).

This conviction brought to the fore the ignorance of many Jamaicans. The discriminatory slurs and comments uttered by Jamaicans can be found all over the internet. In particular On the Ground News Reports on Facebook, below is a sample of the comments on their page:

How people believe that Buju Banton was set up by gays and that his conviction was coloured by the 'all powerful' gay lobby is beyond me. My opinion is that if someone is guilty and found so by a jury, then they are guilty. Many Jamaicans in blaming gays, refuse to see the logic in the fact that no one but Buju Banton is to be blamed for his own predicament. If you're not inclined to do something then you will not be caught doing it, a simple example (my comment posted on On the Ground News Reports):

"...If you're not inclined to certain things you won't be lured into the trap. If a man nuh gay nor have the inclination him nah go find himself in "compromising position(s)" with other males. Therefore boasting or not, entrapped or not HE placed himself in the cross hairs. Stop playing the blame game."

There are some other Jamaicans who share the same sentiment:

Dear readers, do you believe that Buju Banton was unfaily convicted based on 'Boom Bye Bye' and the 'Gay Agenda' or by his own actions?


This post has been late (too late) in coming.

In the latter part of 2010 (Dec 3), just days after a popular entertainer registered her call for an end to discrimination at a World AIDS Day event,  a popular cross dresser known as "Charm" was found dead in the vicinity of the Half Way Tree.

According to a secondary source of information, "Charm" was in full drag at the time of her discovery, this was later confirmed by a passer-by from the GLBTQI community who was at the crime scene. The passer-by reported that a crowd had gathered there, among whom were persons jeering and laughing at the news that it was a cross dresser who had been murdered. "Charm" who reportedly had several visible stab wounds on her body was discovered by a woman who apparently took her young daughter to a nearby dark area, for her to relieve herself.

"Charm" may have been the victim of a 'link-up' or cruising gone bad, as she was known to "work" the streets at nights as a sex worker, on the cruising trails in that area.

My condolences go out to her friends and family.
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