Archive for ‘Jamaica’

January 18, 2013

Jamaicans Speak Out Via J-FLAG

Nice to see that Jamaicans are continuing to work to make a change. A series of  videos designed to address homophobia in Jamaica.

To the music of Mackelmore and Ryan who created the wonderful ‘Same Love’ video.

Blabbeando reports that J-FLAG produced a series of videos to address the issue.

J-FLAG Boss Headlines New Human Rights Video Campaign

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Dane Lewis, the executive director of J-FLAG, Jamaica’s foremost gay rights advocacy organisation, is headlining a new a human rights video campaign featuring straight, gay and lesbian Jamaicans.

The campaign, which is called We Are Jamaicans was launched today to raise awareness among Jamaicans about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) identity and community, human rights, stigma and discrimination. We Are Jamaicans is a participatory video campaign hosted on YouTube athttps://www.youtube.com/user/EqualityJA. It features prominent Jamaicans such as Susan and Alexis Goffe and Javed Jaghai.

According to Lewis, “the campaign was developed following recommendations from consultations with LGBT persons, activists and allies to show the experiences of Jamaica’s LGBT community in a more diverse way.”

There is an urgent need to interrupt prevailing discourse on LGBT realities in Jamaica. Opportunities must be created for Jamaicans to see and hear about the experiences of LGBT people so they can understand what it means to be LGBT.

“Regrettably, the diversity and the complexity of Jamaica’s LGBT community is masked by media and advocacy narratives that too often focus on sex, victimhood, crime and HIV. These themes are not identity-affirming and they sometimes further entrench the marginal position of LGBT people in the society,” Lewis said.

Javed Jaghai, an openly gay Jamaican, says that ignorance helps to fuel homophobia and the campaign will be critical for increasing understanding among the Jamaican public about gender and sexuality variance. “By diversifying the stories told about LGBT lives, the complexity of LGBT identities will be made apparent and it will be easier to evoke empathy and secure general support for tolerance,” he highlighted.

The Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC) through its Global Fund Vulnerablised Project funds the campaign. It is expected to lead to greater understanding and help change minds and hearts about Jamaica’s LGBT community. Gay, lesbian and straight Jamaicans are encouraged to use creative ways of sharing their experiences with LGBT issues and join the campaign whether they wish to show their face or not.

Contact: Dane Lewis | Executive Director

P.O. Box 1152, Kingston 8 T: 978-8988 | M: 875 2328 | F: 946-3244

W: http://www.jflag.org | E: admin@jflag.org | T: @equalityJA

Watch the series on http://blabbeando.blogspot.com/2013/01/we-are-jamaicans-campaign-against.html#.UPoNtW99IeX

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November 10, 2012

Javed Jaghai Interview on Jamaican TV

You want bravery and admirable activism well here it is. Javed Jaghai speaking about what it is to be gay in Jamaica. Guaranteed none of the people who go about hating and bashing in Jamaica would have even a tiny percentage of his courage. Now if only I could send the seemingly clueless interviewer that there is a word ‘gay’ and that ‘the homosexual” is only showing she hasn’t attempted to expand her reading horizons much. Maybe I will send her GLAAD guide for Xmas.

“Heterosexuals don’t walk around saying I am heterosexual”  – Oy! Host head slap.

But yes, Jamaica you really are as homophobic as the world thinks you are.

(link via Corve Costa )

November 5, 2012

Brilliant Video Response – UTECH Beating: Jamaicans, Homophobia and Backa Massa’s legacy

Via @georgiap  Needs no comment except to say give this woman a prize.

April 18, 2012

Break The Silence!

A few weeks ago I was privileged to be a consultant to a group started by Jeremy Steffan Edwards and comprised of young people who, spurred by yet another teen suicide in Trinidad and countless others around the world, decided that enough was enough and that they would make a difference. Sitting in that first meeting held at a conference table at the University of the West Indies I looked at the young faces and listened to them emphatically stating that young people being driven to despair because they were lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered or questioning  was not acceptable and I can’t really describe how proud I felt and how full of hope for the future.

Out of a series of meetings the George Kasanjian Foundation which later became The Silver Lining Foundation was born.  Driven by some of the most passionate young people I have met in recent years the group has finally crafted its mission statement and vision statement.

MISSION STATEMENT

The Silver Lining Foundation is committed to facilitating safe access to the relevant psychological, sexual, medical, recreational and media resources necessary to educate, equip and empower youth to deal with difficulties regarding sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.

VISION STATEMENT

To create an environment conducive to respect and self acceptance, and to provide a support system for marginalized youth regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression, leading to a sustainable and functional Life.

It has also embarked on a project that will be a first for T&T – a Day of Silence which will be  observed on Friday. Those participating will tape their mouths and hand out cards to others on campus explaining the purpose of the group. The Trinidad Guardian published an excellent article on the day here.

This might seem like a small act to achieve a very big change – and it is – but it is a start and it will mark  a major turning point in the fight for LGBTQ kids to be given the dignity and respect that they deserve as equal human beings. This is also being done in a country in the English speaking Caribbean – not normally viewed as an especially tolerant environment for such vulnerable kids. In practice T&T is nowhere as unwelcoming as say Jamaica but there are still discriminatory ( though rarely enforced) rules on the books and LGBT people face discrimination on a daily basis simply because of who they are.

2012 will go down as an interesting year for us with this inspiring project by The Silver Lining Foundation and by CAISO  which has embarked on a series of  weekly meetings to push equality onto the national agenda ( I am on the – wait for it – Media Committee).  This could be the start of something really good.

February 16, 2012

ORAM – Organization for Refuge, Asylum and Migration – Video Campaign

ORAM, the organization that works to help LGBTI people life in unsafe countries to find safety elsewhere in the world. On their site they describe their mission:

ORAM provides clients with free legal counseling and assistance, including representation at UNHCR proceedings. We assist refugees through their passage to safety, often until they are permanently resettled in new countries.

Visit their website here.

The organization has released a series of  narration free animated videos telling the  personal stories of what the reality of life is for LGBTI people living in hostile environments. Deeply thought provoking and maddening. The countries featured  in these three videos ( in order ) are Jamaica, Iraq and Iran.  A warning – although they are animated some of the images are disturbing.

JAMAICA

IRAQ

IRAN

December 29, 2011

PNP headed for landslide win in Jamaica.

courtesy Box Turtle Bulletin

As my Facebook friend, author Nicholas Laughlin so eloquently put it a few moments ago :

“To summarise: in Jamaica, widely considered the most homophobic country in the Caribbean, the ruling party runs a gay-bashing general election campaign and loses by what can only be called a landslide.”

Some background on the campaign from the Washington Post here.

According to Reuters as of right now the ruling party is, how do they say this politically again? Oh yes, they are getting a massive dose of whup ass.

(Reuters) – Jamaica’s ruling party appeared headed for defeat in national elections on Thursday, as the Caribbean country’s leading opposition party capitalized on voter discontent over growing economic woes.

Preliminary results showed the governing Jamaica Labor Party, or JLP, winning just 21 of the 63 parliamentary seats at stake in the national election.

With about 50 percent of ballots counted, the opposition People’s National Party, or PNP, looked set to win 42 seats, according to results from the national electoral office posted on the website of the Jamaica Observer newspaper.

The moderately left-leaning PNP is led by Portia Simpson Miller, a former prime minister who became Jamaica’s first female leader in 2006 and now looks set to ride a wave of popular disillusionment back into office.

I would like to be optimistic and think the change of government will make a difference for the LGBT community in what Time Magazine called “The Most Homophobic Place on Earth” but I doubt it will. It will however prove that trying to win an election by stirring up hatred against a minority sometimes comes back to kick you in the teeth.

December 15, 2011

Another milestone in an already hugely significant year.

As the year winds to a close the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has released a report on “Discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity” that is pretty earthshaking by UN standards. Considering that so many countries who are UN members criminalize same-sex activity and/or relationships – in some cases with the death penalty it is almost remarkable that the High Commissioner has taken such an unequivocal stand in the subject.

The report is available online in PDF format and can be downloaded here. It makes the position of the UN very clear:

In all regions, people experience violence and discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. In many cases, even the perception of homosexuality or transgender identity puts people at risk. Violations include but are not limited to killings, rape and physical attacks, torture, arbitrary detention, the denial of rights to assembly, expression and information, and discrimination in employment, health and education. United Nations mechanisms, including human rights treaty bodies and the special procedures of the Human Rights Council, have documented such violations for close to two decades.

The report notes what so many nations have failed to note – that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights also applies  to LGBT people.

The application of international human rights law is guided by the principles of universality and non-discrimination enshrined in article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that
all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and . All people, including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) persons, are entitled to enjoy the protections provided for by international human rights law, including in respect of rights to life, security of person and privacy, the right to be free from torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, the right to be free from discrimination and the right to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action confirms that, while the significance of national and regional particularities and various historical, cultural and religious backgrounds must be borne in mind, it is the duty of States, regardless of their political, economic and cultural systems, to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms.”3

It goes on to point out that though sexual orientation or gender identity might not be specifically spelled out in UN documents as a grounds for protection, like age, marital status and numerous other grounds, they are covered :

The specific grounds of discrimination referred to in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other human rights treaties are not exhaustive. The drafters intentionally left the grounds of discrimination open

The specific grounds of discrimination referred to in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other human rights treaties are not exhaustive. The drafters intentionally left the grounds of discrimination open

by using the phrase “other status. Sexual orientation and gender identity, like disability, age and health status, are not explicitly mentioned among the grounds listed in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights or the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. In 1994, in the case of , the Human Rights Committee held that States are obligated to protect individuals from discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientationThis position is reflected in later decisions of the Committee and in general comments of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the Committee against Torture and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.6

For those who think the argument for protection is purely philosophical, the report documents the disturbing reality that LGBT people lose their lives  simply  for being who they are – including one incident in Jamaica.

Since 1999, the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions has regularly referred to persons being subjected to death threats or killed because of sexual orientation and gender identity.

The current mandate holder recently highlighted the murders of at least 31 LGBT persons in Honduras during an 18-month period, including a transgender person found dead in a ditch, her body beaten and burned, showing evidence of rape and blows to her face from stoning so severe as to render the remains virtually unrecognizable.In Jamaica, a man was allegedly stabbed and stoned to death after police, who reportedly participated in the attack, urged others to beat him because he was homosexualThe Special Rapporteur on violence against women has highlighted the targeted murder of lesbians in South Africa, including a case in which two lesbians were beaten, stoned and one stabbed to death

LGBT persons are also among the victims of so-called
honour killings, carried out against those seen by family or community members to have brought shame or dishonour on a family, often for transgressing gender norms or for sexual behaviour, including actual or assumed same-sex sexual activity. While women are generally the targets of this sort of punishment, these attacks can be directed at individuals of any sex

Reports from regional and non-governmental organizations point to a pattern of targeted violence.

The African Commission on Human and Peoples‟ Rights noted “an upsurge of intolerance against sexual minorities” in Cameroon, and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has repeatedly addressed related concerns in Latin America and the CaribbeanOSCE reported 44 bias-motivated murders of LGBT persons in 2009.

August 30, 2011

Watch “Mista Majah P – Love and Tolerance (Tolerance 2011)” on YouTube

This must be a first for a Jamaican reggae artist.

I  can admit happily I have no clue what he is saying.

February 12, 2011

MTF fireman 66, weds Jamaican lesbian chef 37

I guess Cher might describe this as “a different kind of love story”. Congrats to them.

“A thrice-married former fireman in Britain, who underwent a sex change to become a woman, has tied the knot with a Jamaican lesbian chef he met online.

Kerry Whybrow, 66, formerly Roger Steed, had met Alcia Evans, a mother of one and almost 30-years her junior, through an international dating website.

The 6ft 2in former angling instructor met Evans in 2008 and had spent just a fortnight with the 37-year-old Jamaican before she flew to England to prepare for their “wedding”…

Read the rest on Sify here.

The Daily Mail has even more comprehensive coverage with pictures here.

February 12, 2011

Jamaica- homophobia, asylum seekers and denial

Via CAISO|GSPOTTT

Already viewed by the world as the most homophobic place in the hemisphere, LGBT Jamaicans have taken to seeking asylum in countries where their lives are not in danger .

The Washington Post has an excellent piece by Shankar Vedantam on the experiences of one such person – Andrae Bent. His experiences are, I am sure, a daily reality for many others in Jamaica. The article also notes that the Jamaican government continues to tell the world that they are a caring society in an effort to keep those tourist dollars flowing while the reality belies their PR message.

“From the time he was in grade school in his native Jamaica, Andrae Bent was the target of taunts and attacks.

A classmate once stabbed him near his eye with a pencil for being effeminate. Another time, a man pulled a knife on him and asked if he was “one of them,” Bent said, meaning homosexual. Fearing for his life, Bent denied his homosexuality.

“I was called faggot, gay, batty man, chichi man,” he said. “This would be from classmates, from people on the streets when I was walking home. Wherever I went in Jamaica, it was a nightmare.”

Five months ago, Bent, now 24, won asylum in the United States on the grounds that he had credible fear of persecution as a gay man if he were to go back to Jamaica. He joined what has become a small wave of gay Jamaicans fleeing homophobia in the Caribbean nation.

Despite its image as a laid-back island paradise for American tourists, Jamaica still criminalizes sodomy and has long been regarded by human rights activists as virulently anti-gay…

Read the rest in the Washington Post here.