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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! 

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