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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Published Response to Peter Espeut

Hey readers as promised, here is the version that was published in the Gleaner.

It's reposted in it's entirety, and can be found at the main webpage which will also have the comments, you can find that by clicking on the name of the article.

Lesbians Do Have Morals!
Published: Saturday | April 16, 2011                17 Comments


Peter Espeut, in his column 'The right to discriminate' (April 8), began his defence against the non-inclusion of a non-discrimination clause against the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Jamaican population by drawing upon the fear of Jamaicans.

A church that does not condone homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality, transgenderism cannot, by any account, be forced to admit these persons into its clergy, as that would be an infringement on their rights. The church is a private body governed by its own rules; the same goes for schools employing openly LGBT persons.

Mr Espeut says that by including a clause of non-discrimination, it may cause "young people ... [to believe] that homosexuality and heterosexuality are equally acceptable 'alternative lifestyles'." Why, Mr Espeut, would anyone choose to live a life that they have heard over and over will lead them to hell, a life that would endanger their life?

anything goes

I do not know, Mr Espeut, if you are saying that "anything goes" is the characteristic of LGBT persons, or if such persons are amoral. If that is what you are saying, may I ask you how many LGBT persons have you met outside the stereotypical profile many have of LGBT people? Let me introduce you to a lesbian who has a moral compass: me. I am a lesbian, a Christian, an overcomer of a sexual crime. I am not amoral, I have values, I have a concept of right and wrong, I have moral principles.

Get it right, Mr Espeut, all heterosexuals aren't party animals and promiscuous beings, neither are all lesbians, bisexuals, gays, and transgenders.

I am, etc.,

Lesbian Christian and Human
Rights Activist

Too Many Deaths for the First Part of the Month

I am currently at a loss for word, I am very much distraught one of these guys was a friend of mine. This is the exact reason we need protection under the charter of rights, and the repeal of Sections 76, 77 and 79 of the Offences Against the Person Act.

Visit my fellow blogger brother's post on the three deaths this week.

The Tragic Loss Of Three Icons In Less Than A Month ……..

The Irrationality of the Existence of the Buggery Law

In 2009 with the sexual offences bill being debated, Ernest Smith, South West St Ann Member of Parliament, made a few comments regarding the characteristics of homosexuals and the severity of punishment for buggery. Smith further called for J-FLAG to be investigated for conspiracy to corrupt public morals. Bruce Golding (Prime Minister) in distancing himself from Smiths’ comments said, "I disagree with the comments he (Smith) made about the rights of persons who advocate for liberation of laws relating to sexual offences, to facilitate, to allow persons the right of choice in their sexual practices" . With this do I start.

If persons have the right of choice in their sexual practices then why does the buggery law exist? The buggery law (sections 76, 77 and 79) of the Offences against the Person Act goes against the very notion of the right of someone to choose what sexual activity or practice they will engage in.

There are two points that are advanced for the validation, of keeping this law on the books. There are:

1. To protect our children. Nonsense. Removal of the buggery law will not increase the possibility of our children being sexual targets. In a sexual offence case recently a JLP minister was charged with buggery. That man should have been charged with rape! Rape is forced sexual activity against someone’s will. The protection of children, women and men should not rest on the continuance of this law. It in fact reduces the sentence of the perpetrator.

2. It is against Christian moral. Now for the people (of which there are many) who seem to have forgotten that Jamaica is not a church state, the reason the buggery law is kept on the books cannot rest on Christian or any other religious argument. The Charter of Rights (section 21) guarantees each person the right to freedom of conscience (which includes freedom of religion); to bind anyone to a law because it is your religious view - that they are wrong and in this case immoral - is a travesty and a violation of that person’s constitutional right.

"If we start to yield; if we start to liberalize in the direction that strong organized lobby would insist that we should, then where do you draw the line?" the prime minister said. Again Mr. Golding like many opponents of human rights for gays, you seem to want to create a link between the human rights and the sexual rights of homosexuals and those in the GLBT(Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered) community, with bestiality and pedophilia. Bestiality and homosexuality are two different things Mr. Golding. I do not condone bestiality. Homosexuality concerns a same-sex, human to human relationship, not human-animal relationship; the same goes for pedophilia; pedophilia “is a psychological disorder in which an adult or older adolescent experiences a sexual preference for prepubescent children” (World Health Organization, Section F65.4). There are pedophiles who are attracted to young girls and pedophiles who are attracted to young boys. Those are different from adults who are attracted to adults of the same sex.

Again the Prime Minister says, "We have a duty to protect people in the country, and therefore, we will never support or condone either the acts of violence or threats of violence or intimidation in any shape or form against persons because of their sexual preferences or lifestyle,” yet it is known that persons are harassed, abused, and been recipients of violence due to their sexual orientations; and the Charter of Rights was recently passed without protection from discrimination for persons of the GLBT community. You have failed Mr. Golding, you and your government have failed at your “duty to protect the people in the country”, including the GLBT community. You need to be held accountable, and don’t laugh it off like you did with Mr. K.D Knight recently (Mannatt/Dudus Inquiry).

Mr. Golding has said that as part of a menu of sexual legislation in the new bill being considered; provision was being made to sentence those persons who engage in buggery carried out in circumstances similar to rape or grievous assault to life. May I advise you Mr. Brilliant Prime Minister, that to be able to effectively bring about that legislation, it means you will need to acknowledge that there are instances where buggery is not committed in circumstances similar to rape or grievous assaults.

"We will never start peeping in anybody's bedroom to see what they are doing within their own privacy. We will never start hounding down people because they may have lifestyles that we would prefer did not exist." As much as many would prefer that other sexual orientations did not exist, Mr. Golding, you do not have any authority to dictate who a person is, what sexual preference they may chose, or what orientation they may be born as. Regarding the ‘ bedroom[s]’, let me make you aware that per section 19(2)(b),(c) and contrary to what you, and many others purport, police and any other such person acting under the authority of the law can kick down your door, or break through your window, for the purpose of defending (as Mr. Smith said) the public morality, or from preventing a crime from taking place (buggery).

One question I will ask to finish off my article is for Mr. Golding, a member of the security forces, and/or an attorney at law. If two persons (male and male, or male and female, or female and female) are engaging in anal sex, and the neighbours break in on them and begin to inflict injury; when that is reported to the police:

1. Will the persons engaging in anal sex be charged for buggery?

2. Will the police only charge the neighbours who broke in and inflicted harm?

3. Will the police charge both sets?

If the answer to the above is #3 then, it means the law is ineffective, discriminatory, and a stumbling block to the access of protection.

What say you?

Monday, April 11, 2011

My Response to Peter Espeut's column ‘The Right To Discriminate’

The following is my response to Peter Espeut's column ‘The Right To Discriminate’ (April 8,2011). I had to edit and shorten it to send it to the editor. The letter that follows is the complete unedited letter. If my letter is published then I will repost it here for you as well.


Mr. Peter Espeut in his column ‘The Right To Discriminate’ (April 8,2011) began his defense against the non-inclusion of a non-discrimination clause against the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Jamaican population, with the fear factor of the Church being forced to admit gays into clergy and schools being forced to admit openly LGBT persons as guidance counselors.

Mr. Espeut and fellow thinkers (including Shirley Richards) draw upon the fear of Jamaicans in furthering their (at times) baseless arguments. A church that does not condone homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexuality, transgenderism, cannot by any account be forced to admit these persons into their clergy that would be an infringement on their rights. The church is a private body governed by its own rules; the rules of the state (so long as there is separation) cannot be forced onto them. The same goes, as it regards schools employing openly LGBT persons. A private school, not funded by the government can set their own rules and chose whether to accept such persons or not. For example, if a school is operated by Seventh-day Adventists, then non-Adventists or even non-Christians will be required to abide by the rules of that school. If however, the school is funded by the government of the land then the laws of the government will also govern how such an institution is run.

“I do not believe that two consenting adults, of whatever gender, should be criminalised for having sexual intercourse with each other in the privacy of their homes”, why then Mr. Espeut should you not support even the very basic call of the removal of Sections 76, 77 and 79 of the Offences Against the Person Act? Those sections can allow persons to be targeted, dragged out of their homes and beaten, and/or jailed. “Personally, I do not think that homosexual relations are wholesome”, I partially agree with you Sir, however I must say that there are many heterosexual relationships out there that are not wholesome; no single side of the fence has completely wholesome relationships.

You say Mr. Espeut, that by including a clause of non-discrimination, it may cause “young people not yet self-actualised, who are still developing a consciousness of themselves and their sexual identity… [to believe] that homosexuality and heterosexuality are equally acceptable 'alternative lifestyles’”. I personally believe that due to music culture many young persons, experiment with sex in all forms (it has always happened), do not confuse that (experimentation) Mr. Espeut with identity/orientation. Why, Mr. Espeut would anyone chose to live a life that they have heard over and over will lead them to hell, a life that would endanger their life? Why Mr. Espeut, would I chose to live a life that has caused me to be the target of a sexual crime? No Mr. Espeut, you need to stop and think it over.

Bestiality and homosexuality are two different things Mr. Espeut. I do not condone bestiality. Homosexuality concerns a same-sex, human to human relationship, not human-animal relationship. Though you have not said both are the same, persons reading your article and persons who despise homosexuals usually love to equate the two, this is the clarification. The same goes for pedophilia; pedophilia “is a psychological disorder in which an adult or older adolescent experiences a sexual preference for prepubescent children” (World Health Organization, Section F65.4). There are pedophiles who are attracted to young girls and pedophiles who are attracted to young boys. Those are different from adults who are attracted to adults of the same sex.

“We can decriminalise homosexuality”, then make the call Mr. Espeut, or is this just talk? Make the call to remove sections 76, 77, and 79.

“Modernist, neoliberal people reject even the idea of having norms and values - and anything goes”, I do not know Mr. Espeut if you are saying that this is the characteristic of LGBT persons, I am not sure, Mr. Espeut, if you are saying that we are amoral. If that is what you are saying, then may I ask you how many LGBT persons have you met outside of the stereotypical profile many have of LGBT people? Let me introduce you to a lesbian who has a moral compass; me. I am a lesbian, a Christian, an over-comer of a sexual crime. I am not amoral, I have values, I have a concept of right and wrong, I have moral principles. Get it right Mr. Espeut, all heterosexuals aren’t party animals and promiscuous beings, neither are all lesbians, bisexuals, gays, and transgenders.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Silent Protest at Devon House (Friday 8,2011)

 More Pictures of the Event Below

From 8:00 to 8:45 a.m. on Friday April 8, 2011, a group of Jamaicans stood near the entrance of Devon House in Kingston to condemn the exclusion of sexual orientation from the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as well as the re-saving of the country’s anti-buggery law.

Noted Jamaican Queen’s Counsel, Lord Anthony Gifford, stated that the views expressed by some that a Charter should only reflect the majority opinion on human rights could have been used to justify the Nazi holocaust. Agreeing with Lord Gifford, Arlene Harrison-Henry, former President of the Jamaica Bar Association said that the role of a Charter is to provide protection for marginalized groups in a society, such as Jamaican gays. Holding a placard with the slogan ‘Golding, Charter is homophobic’ radio talk-show host, Lloyd D’Aguilar argued that the Charter undermines the already fragile civil liberties of the country's vulnerable homosexual population.

Jamaica's 147 year old anti-buggery legislation is futile and dangerous as it has failed to prevent private consenting male same-sex activity and instead provides legal justification for the often violent abuse and extortion of gays. Furthermore, the 2009 UNAIDS report highlighted that the law contributes to Jamaica's HIV epidemic by driving gays underground, making it difficult to reach them with effective HIV prevention, treatment, care and support interventions.

Yours truly,

Maurice Tomlinson

Legal Advisor, Marginalized Groups

AIDS-Free World.

To Shirley Richards

Ahh boi, Ms. Shirley Richards, immediate past-chair of the Lawyers Christian Fellowship has me ranting.

Let me begin by directing you to Ms. Richards’ latest article 'No truth that repealing buggery law will help reduce HIV/AIDS'

Ms. Richards would like us to believe that decriminalizing buggery will not affect HIV incidents among men who have sex with men (MSM), and that decriminalizing buggery would actually lead to an increase in HIV transmission among MSMs. I am not disputing that the rate of infection among MSMs will decrease if buggery is decriminalized; my argument is that keeping the buggery law does not help to reduce HIV transmission. With the buggery law still on the books it makes it more difficult for MSMs to access treatment and prevention services. The rational for this statement rests in the fact that stigma and discrimination is high and that this drives MSMs underground and away from the necessary health services.

I have noticed from reading other articles from Ms. Richards that she seems to take bits and pieces of articles and incidents out of context and use that to fuel fear and resentment in the Jamaican population. If a private organisation or institution is operated by Seventh-day Adventists, then as a non-Adventist or even non-Christian you will be required to abide by the rules of that organisation. So it is with the issue of homosexuality; if a private body does not condone discrimination based on sexual orientation, then no individual can discriminate of such grounds, or they will be subject to sanctions. On the issue of human rights no-one can be forced to do something against their belief, or personal ideals.

Ms. Richards asks “where do rights originate?” Let us turn to the preamble in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which gives us the reason the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) was created. It listed among others that the inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world; it also stated that disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people. Jamaica as a signatory to the UDHR should keep the Declaration in mind when they are (as in the Charter of Rights) formulating the rights to which Jamaicans are entitled.

Ms. Richards, the rights of consenting adult homosexuals to conduct their sexual business in the privacy of their bedrooms is frankly neither the business of you nor the government of Jamaica.

Decriminalizing buggery will not make HIV infections among MSMs go away, it will however, over time lead to an increase of access to and utilization of health services.

Wake up Ms. Richards, policy and law makers, and HIV interest groups. Take your heads out of the sand.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Soulforce » Open Letter: Dear Alan Chambers, My Friends are Gay, Not Broken

Soulforce » Open Letter: Dear Alan Chambers, My Friends are Gay, Not Broken

The following open letter to Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International and those that seek to force gay/trans Christian believers into any program that seeks to “fix” them, was written by Kathy Baldock

Dear Alan,

A group of white, gay, Christian men pose for a pictureI spent quite a bit of time going through most of the pages on the Exodus International website and they are not straight forward (pun not intended) in the message. I am trying to understand what it is that Exodus does, says and promises. It is not clearly stated, so I wanted to come and observe for myself at your June Freedom Conference, but you uninvited me.

I see that Exodus believes that the opposite of homosexuality is holiness. That has bothered me since you wrote that in ”Leaving Homosexuality” on page 23; yes, I read the whole book. I agree that God wants us to be holy as He is holy (I Peter 1:16), but that in no way indicates that holiness is the opposite of homosexuality.

I’ve attached a few pictures from a potluck in Los Angeles this past weekend. Look at the faces of these young gay men, Alan. They are Christian gay men. By your assessment however, they cannot be gay and Christian if they are not seeking in any way to change their orientation.

From the information on your website:

  • If they refuse to acknowledge being homosexual as a sin, their commitment to Jesus Christ is not genuine and it is, in fact questionable. Do you really mean that? They have made personal commitments to Jesus, have had changed lives and exhibit spiritual fruits. This mixing of sexual orientation and ability to reflect Jesus is really a nasty play with words. The opposite on the sexual orientation scale of a strict homosexual is indeed a strict heterosexual, not holiness. You should consider not saying it anymore; it is insulting and wholly inaccurate. Look at their faces. Ask about their lives. Get to know them. I know them; I see Jesus.
  • Change is possible. Are you really talking about sexual orientation? Because no medical or psychological association says re-orientation is possible. None. I do however agree that relationship with Jesus will change any of us.
  • There are underlying issues that lead to their homosexual orientation. Exodus has taken the story of typical family dysfunction and turned it to an equation of A + B + C = “you are gay”. What about the ones who have wonderful, healthy families of origin? Or me, the heterosexual who crawled out of a mired heap of dysfunction and is attracted to men?
  • Exodus can help gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people deal with their “life dominating addictions”. My sexual orientation is not an addiction, and neither is theirs. With addictions, when one stops them, the former addict’s life improves. If you ask a gay, bi, trans person to deny who they are then you get the problems: depression, shame, self-hatred, loneliness, low self esteem, stress, suicidal thoughts, rejection by family, perceived rejection by God. Sexual orientation is not an “addiction”, that is just a silly concept. These young men are not addicted to being gay, they just are gay.
  • Exodus suggests that we that we, who are not gay, should “pray that God reconnect them with His original design and purpose for them as men and women.” I agree that they should be connected to their original design and purpose. So, stop messing with them. Stop trying to tell these young men that they are not acceptable to God and unable to serve Him in the way He created them. If any one of them were my son, I would be delighted; they are wonderful young men. Not broken, not somehow unconnected to Him because they are gay. They actually “live in Him”; I see fourteen verses in my Bible that say they, as believers, are “in Him”. That is pretty dang connected.

I have met over a thousand gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians. They have been on varying journeys in their faith walks. Some have left the faith completely because of pressures to be straight so that they might please God. I think even Exodus can agree that you cannot make anyone straight. Bisexual people can stick with the opposite sex; homosexual people can get married and live as straight people and that does not make them heterosexual; and people can choose to remain celibate. None of these situations means that the person has changed orientation.

We are at a critical point in the Christian church on the issue of acceptance of gay/trans believers. Alan, you and I both know there are gay/bi/trans/queer believers. This is a truth. We can play all the semantics games possible about identity and new identity and new creation. But, we both know there are gay/trans people in relationships that express love sexually and, they are Christians. If our theology does not allow for this and we know it to be true, then the only logical conclusion is: there is something wrong with our interpretation of verses. The people are real; the interpretations are man made.

We are allowing this issue to divide the church. Can you imagine anything more un-Christ-like than people dictating who can come near Jesus? Look at these young men Alan. Look at those faces, those smiles. Do you really see broken, addicted people who need to stop being gay to please God?

I cannot wholly slam Exodus; I know many people who have actually found benefit to their lives from being in Exodus for a time. For some people, it was the first time they knew there were other gay Christians. For others, they got some healing from familial dysfunction (which most of us could benefit from). Although it is very difficult to understand what Exodus actually does, I understand it is essentially a referral agency to other groups that are somewhere on the spectrum of “reparative therapy”. Most of the resources point to “repair”. You told me yourself Alan that Exodus is not in the reparative therapy business, but the resources and FAQ scream it.

I wanted to come to the Conference and meet people for myself that have benefited from and still fully engage in the Exodus experience/way. I know there must be some. People who are married, people with children, people serving in ministries. People who are happy that they are not gay identified, or openly gay or same-sex attracted. My experience is skewed the other way. I hear the horror stories of ex- attendees who invested decades and tens of thousands of dollars, the stories of ex-leaders, of ex-counselors, ex-ex gays, ex-ex lesbians, gays that are so condemned by sexual feelings that they live lonely lives. I need to hear the success stories for myself. I have been to several conferences for the Gay Christian Network and the Evangelical Network where “Exodus sorts” have been openly welcome to all events. I wanted the reverse experience so that the threads of my impressions are more accurate.

I think ultimately, Alan, we both want the same thing. We both want people to enjoy an intimate relationship with God if that is what they want. And you know what, Alan? Gay people are not the one class of people excluded from that intimacy experience. We need to stop this church wide, specifically targeted pressure to change the orientation of gay people. It never was man’s job to do that. It has been our job to reflect and point. We are a really bad reflection to the GLBT community and we point to the curb or Exodus. There are other options. Like reconciled churches, ministries and The Gay Christian Network.

Until gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people find an equal place in the church, Exodus will exist. But, as they make themselves known and as the rest of the church get in relationship with them, all the gifts and qualities of homosexual believers will be seen as equal and as valuable as those of heterosexual believers. It will challenge our man-inspired take on the God-inspired Word. This is happening. It started happening to me ten years ago.

If people want to take the Exodus route to reconciliation of their sexuality and faith, so be it. But, never discount or demean the other routes gay/trans people find to God. Those routes may have nothing to do with sexual orientation; they have everything to do with heart orientation.

Look at these young men again Alan. All of them have been told in varying degrees that they are unacceptable to Him because they are gay. All have been told they need to change their orientation to please Him. Most have hidden their orientation at some point in their lives because being honest meant rejection. All have somehow stepped over the crap the church has placed in the path and still, they found a way to God. All are gay. All identify as gay.

Please Alan and Exodus, be part of the solution. Stop telling my friends they are broken and unacceptable. Neither is true. I don’t know how you will stay relevant in a church that is learning to embrace those we never should have rejected. That is for your board to figure out. I just know the heart of the God I serve is not exclusionary, does not oppress, does not reject and is all for equality. If you really, really believe all sin is equal, then give God the chance to work on the “sin of homosexuality”, that is, if He wants to. I have not seen one example of God changing any person’s orientation to date. Not one. I was hoping to meet people with other views at the Freedom Conference. Some of those success stories, some of those who are now identify as straight.

I know I see Jesus in the lives of my self-identified, not-repenting-for-it, reconciled-to-it, accepting-of-it and sexually-expressing-it gay and trans friends. And that should challenge the rest of us to consider that this God that we say is so huge and not-of-our-ways is, once again, is not defined by our beliefs. This will probably be a non issue in about twenty years, even in most churches, and we’ll wonder why we were so resistant. Problem is, those that have fallen and are falling by the wayside now are of great value to Him and they should be to us. Important enough to be changing the divisive/exclusionary dialogue in our various denominations to figure this out.

Of this I am sure: John, Stuart, Juan, Paul, Wesley, Travis and Josh are loved by God just as they are. No need to not be gay or not be same sex attracted. I have hundreds of pictures of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Christians. I have thousands of stories. You can have seven verses of Scripture. Seven verses that I believe are mistranslated and taken out of context. Better off to stick with the ones we know are accurate. Concentrate on them and let’s stop excluding an entire class of people from our churches and lives.

And if you want to introduce me to some of those Exodus success stories, I am still open to it. I very much want to challenge my own beliefs so that the church, as a whole, might actually look like this irresistible Jesus. I’ve kept that week in June free.

So glad He saved my sorry self,
Kathy Baldock

A color photograph of Kathy Bladock, a white, middle-age woman with shoulder length brown hair. She is wearing a shiny multi-colored blouseKathy Baldock has been an Evangelical Christian for over 25 years, attending conservative congregations and not considering anything more on the issues of the GLBT Community than what she heard from her churches. The challenge to love her gay neighbor became real as she hiked thousands of miles together over a course of years with a Native American, lesbian, agnostic woman and they quickly became friends . Eventually, Kathy transitioned from tolerance to advocacy, blogs, and advocates with and for LGBTQ people individually, in small groups, and from the pulpit.

'Do the Noble Thing' - J-FLAG

In a press release on the 30th March, J-FLAG called "on all Senators to ensure that they capitalize on the present opportunity in the Senate to decisively protect the human rights of all Jamaicans. This call is being made in light of the fact that the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms is presently before the Senate for debate. To let the opportunity pass would signal nothing but a sad day for freedom in our country". The bill, J-FLAG insists, "does not provide sufficiently for the protection from discrimination of a number of vulnerable and marginalized populations".

The Government of Jamaica "has said at the Universal Periodic Review that, ‘Jamaican law [does] not criminalise [sexual] orientation nor does it condone discrimination or violence … and was committed to
ensuring that all citizens are protected from violence’,1 however, the Charter of Rights makes no provision for the protection of gays.

"J-FLAG wishes to remind everyone that this Charter should serve as the basis of human rights recognition for all in a society, where its basic laws are based on the concepts of inclusivity and dignity, and on an appreciation of contemporary science on human sexuality, not on prejudice, fear, habit and misinformation."

The entire press release can be found here.

The Senate is expected to meet for two days beginning the 31st March, to discuss the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms whereby it is expected the Bill will be passed with complete Bi-partisan support.


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