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Sunday, May 22, 2011

Of Rights Violations

I wrote the below letter in response to the column in The Sunday Gleaner of May 22, 2011, Rights Violations and Other Matters. It was submitted to the Gleaner a few minutes before this blog post. If it is published then I'll post the link for you.

Martin Henry’s column, in The Sunday Gleaner of May 22, 2011, Rights Violations and Other Matters, touched on the issues of rights of Jamaican Muslims and HIV pre-employment testing. I would like to expand the issue of rights violations from Jamaican Muslims to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered (GLBT) Jamaicans.

Though many use the religiosity (particularly Christianity), and pseudo-religiosity of Jamaicans as the shield for maintaining the buggery laws, and for the refusal of implementing statutory protection for GLBT Jamaicans, it must not be forgotten that Jamaica is, ‘constitutionally a secular democracy’ (Rights Violations and Other Matters).

As a secular democracy it is constitutionally unlawful and should be against the conscience of Christians, to impose upon the society, laws that reflect the religious views of the majority (in this instance-Christianity). It is good that we (as a nation) feel that we have a moral obligation to lead people in the right way, however dictating what persons can or cannot do is not the way to do it.

Christians want their religious views to be protected and respected, but Christians shouldn’t be taken out as a group by themselves only because they are in the majority. If we are going to talk about respect and protection, then that must be extended to ALL JAMAICANS.

Maintaining the buggery law, encourages, and sanctions discrimination against gay and bisexual men. The perceived illegality of homosexuality, inferred from the buggery law, results also in discrimination against lesbian and bisexual women and transgendered persons. The discrimination faced includes instances of housing, employment, and privacy among others.

We boast daily that Jamaica is a melting pot of cultures (Out of Many One People), and a place of love, but where is the love? Does this love only extend to persons we perceive to be like us, who believe the same things we do? Does our love extend to just Christians, and its many denominations, and do we tolerate the other religions because they too denounce homosexuality and other variants to heterosexuality?

It is time that we respect that there are persons within our country who are not Christians, who are not heterosexuals, and who do not subscribe to the traditional views and understandings of Christianity. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

1st National Survey of Attitudes and Perceptions to Same Sex Relationships (Jamaica)

The results of Jamaica's first ever national survey of attitudes and perceptions of Jamaicans towards homosexuality, was made released and available on J-FLAG's website today (May 17, 2011).

The research team which was headed by Professor Ian Boxill, found that the negative views of homosexuality tended to be greatest among males, non-university educated persons, listeners of mostly dancehall and reggae music and persons in the lower socio-economic groups. 

The study showed 59% of respondents chose negative words to describe their feelings towards homosexuals,  while 51% stated that they learnt of homosexuality at 14 years old and younger, through family and friends (32.9%) and media (31.3%) as the main sources of exposure.

The strongest objections to homosexuality were raised on religious grounds and the need to 'protect Jamaican society from changing its cultural practices for the worse'. 85% said they did not think homosexuality should be legally allowed between consenting adults, using the widely held misconception that it is illegal to be homosexual. 

Interestingly, 30% agree that someone can be homosexual and Christian.

Echoing UNAIDS Executive Director, Mr Michel SidibĂ©, Dane Lewis, Executive Director of J-FLAG noted that “the rise in the number of reports to J-FLAG in the last three months has been significant" underscoring the reality of homophobia faced by many gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender Jamaicans.

With 49% believing that homosexuals experience genuine love and affection, like heterosexuals, in their intimate relationships, and 20% (though a significant minority) choosing positive words (e.g. tolerance and acceptance) when asked to describe their feelings towards homosexuals in spite of the prevailing climate of homophobia, the research offers some hope of movement towards tolerance in the coming months and years. 

The research was conducted using a nationally representative sample of 1007 adults from 231 communities between October and November 2010. The survey was also supported by a qualitative study based on five focus groups conducted across the island between October 2010 and January 2011.

The research was commissioned by the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) with the support of AIDS Free World and Open Society Institute.

A final copy of the survey is available for reading online and/or for downloading at NATIONAL SURVEY OF ATTITUDES AND PERCEPTIONS OF JAMAICANS TOWARDS SAME SEX RELATIONSHIPS

International Day Against Homophobia 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Passing of Dr. Robert Carr

Robert Carr
Mr. Peter Carr and Mrs. June Carr, and the Board of Directors of the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) announce the passing of Dr. Robert Carr.

Dr. Carr was founder of the CVC and acted as its first executive director until his move to Toronto, where he worked as director of policy and advocacy with the International Council of AIDS Service Organisations (ICASO) until his passing. Dr. Carr also served as executive director of the Jamaica AIDS Support from 2002-2005. For more than a decade, Dr. Carr dedicated his life to bringing to public attention issues related to stigma and discrimination against persons living with or affected by HIV and AIDS. In addition, he taught at the University of the West Indies, serving as the coordinator of the Graduate Programmes Unit at the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC) from 2006-2008. As a social worker and academic, he published numerous scholarly articles and made scores of presentations in the Caribbean and internationally on human rights and HIV as well as on the social context that drives the stigma associated with the disease.

Dr. Carr died peacefully in his sleep at home in Toronto. Funeral arrangements will be communicated later.

(information taken from the Caribean Vulnerable Comminities website and can be reached here)

Monday, May 9, 2011

"Coming Out & Seeking Acceptance"

Come join Coach Kerri, myself and a panel of other ladies speak about our coming out process. Tonight at 9 p.m. EST or 8 P.M Jamaica time. Come join the dialogue tonight. See you at Coach Kerri Blogtalk radio.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Stance on the Charter of Rights (AIDS Free World and Allies)

On May 6, 2011 AIDS Free World and Allies took its stance on the Charter of Rights to the streets.

Members of various Human Rights organizations came together and stated “No More”. The groups participated in a 20mins stand in front of Devon House where they held placards and handed out flyers to motorist, passengers and passersby sharing with each person they interacted with the need for the inclusion of sexual orientation as a grounds for non-discrimination in the Charter of Rights and Freedom.

Members such as Yvonne McCalla- Sobers from FAST (Family Against State Terrorism), Carolyn Gomes and Cristine Dalrymple from JFJ (Jamaicans for Justice) also shared the views on the ground with AIDS Free World and its Allies.

The message was echoed through the area as passengers and motorists alike tooted their horns and waved in agreement with the message being shared about the in inclusion of the Non –Discrimination and the repealing of sections 76, 77 and 79 of the Offences Against the Person Act which criminalizes consensual adult males intimacy.

AIDS Free World and its Allies would like to thank its supporters for coming out and sharing in the cause

This report was created by PNT a Jamaican Advocate.
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