Posts tagged ‘CAISO’

February 19, 2011

Interesting result from a disturbing question.

Latest poll results @7pm T&T time

There has been a lot of media discussion in Trinidad & Tobago over the last week on the matter of LGBT rights and even ( rather amazingly)  same-sex marriage. This is a result of  a debate in the senate on an unrelated matter (the Statutory Authorities Amendment Bill)  that took a surprising turn when some  senators brought up the subject saying the discussion could lead to same-sex marriage. Since the debate was specifically about people who are NOT married that was patently ridiculous but Government Senator and Minister of  Planning, Mary King took the matter and ran with it indicating that LGBT matters should be discussed in the future. Local LGBT groups, most notably CAISO, have leveraged the discussion through the media and  are getting a great deal of local and regional mileage.

Having interviewed both Minister King and Colin Robinson of CAISO in the last week I can report that the matter is definitely building up some momentum. The question is what will this momentum lead to?   The current government hinted on the campaign trail that the matter of  equality could be dealt with by a referendum – a suggestion so patently silly it is surprising anyone was misguided enough to bring it up. When human rights are involved it usually requires a government willing to ignore a fear of political fallout and do the moral thing.  No one in their right mind would suggest that a referendum be held to give Catholics or left handed people equal rights.

In any case, the Trinidad Express has noted the debate and is conducting a referendum of their own by posting a poll asking “Do you support calls for the government to grant equal rights to members of the gay community?”  This being the developing world  and part of the highly homophobic English Caribbean one would have expected a bloodbath. While members and friends of the LGBT community might certainly leverage the internet to add to the ‘yes’ votes – the same opportunity is available to those who think that all people should not have equality. Being a loud and  generally boisterous group it would have been likely that the anti-equality forces, buoyed by sheer numbers would have dominated the poll. Strangely, this has not been the case. The current result has been holding at 56% ‘yes’ to 46% ‘no .

There may be mitigating factors given that more educated people may be more likely to take the poll, or that large numbers of anti-equality folks may not have internet access or do not bother to read the online papers. There is also another possibility – maybe a large portion of the population actually really does feel that all citizens are entitled to protection under the law. Yes, it is depressing that so many people have voted ‘no’, but in the context of this part of the world it is still encouraging that they are in the minority.

Will anything come of the current discussion in terms of  changing the current legislation? The government would need balls to make such changes  and in this country no government so far has had anything even close  to that.

For background on Trinidad & Tobago’s current laws that omit protection based on sexual orientation have a gander at Lisa Allen-Agostini’s excellent blog post “About those gay rights” here.

Keep an eye on the poll here.

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February 9, 2011

CAISO|GSPOTTT – T&T Govt. not sure if it is opposed to killing gay people.

The good folks at CAISO|GSPOTTT have been trying to get an answer from the Government of Trinidad & Tobago as to why the country abstained in two separate UN 3rd Committee votes. As you may recall the matter revolved around a bloc of African and Muslim countries trying to remove a clause that protected persons from extrajudicial killing ( murder) as a result of their sexual orientation. After the protection was initially removed the United States stepped in and managed to turn the vote around.

What CAISO|GSPOTTT has discovered is that the government seems to be rather confused ( read: doesn’t know its ass from its elbow) on the matter:

Just in: Over the past seven weeks we’ve been following up repeatedly on your calls, emails, faxes and letters to our Min. of Foreign Affairs and United Nations mission. Our country abstained twice on UN votes regarding whether to condemn “extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions” (in more simple terms, murder) based on sexual orientation. We asked them to tell us why. After all, they had promised transparency and accountability in foreign policy.

Well, apparently our new Government isn’t sure whether we are opposed to killing gay people or not.

Read more in their Facebook note here.

As CAISO|GSPOTTT also notes this is the same government whose leader said ( just six days after being elected) :

Discrimination and unfairness does exist in our society but it affects so many rather just one community. It includes, but is certainly not limited to, racial bias.

Discrimination and prejudice is amorphous and has different sources and motivations: it may be based on gender, class, poverty, political affiliation, contact technology or who-yuh-know, locality, sexual orientation, victims of HIV and yes, race.

Read more here.


December 22, 2010

Rwanda explains its vote on adding sexual orientation to the UN resolution on extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions

Rwanda impressed many around the world in its principled vote for the return of  the clause adding protection to LGBT people from extra-judicial killing. Other nations , and most especially her African neighbors, should take note.

Via CAISO | GSPOTTT

United Nations General Assembly, 21 December 2010.

Thank you, sir, for giving me the floor. Rwanda would like to explain its vote on this amendment submitted by the United States.

 

 

Sexual orientation, sir, is a concept which sparks very animated debate in the international level, at the national level, even within our families. It relates to our respective cultures, our way of living, or our religions. This debate generally relates to the definition of this concept of sexual orientation, also the criminalization of such practices, and family rights that have to be granted to people who have a different sexual orientation. This is a complex issue, and no definitive decisions have been taken internationally, and within states or even continents there are very conflicting, seemingly irreconcilable positions. Rwanda feels that sexual orientations of our compatriots is a totally private matter where states cannot intervene, either to award new rights or to discriminate or criminalize those who have such an orientation.

 

But the matter before us now is very different, sir. Here the General Assembly of the United Nations is called upon, not to grant family rights to people with a different sexual orientation, not to give an opinion on the criminalization of such practices, but to decide whether such men and women have the right to life. Sir, in listing specific groups such as national or racial or ethnic or religious or linguistic or even political or ideological or professional groups, the authors of this resolution on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary execution have clearly wished to draw attention to high-risk groups that are frequently the target of murder, assassination or execution. We wish to alert states to the vulnerability of such groups and the reality of the crimes committed against them, and to call for prosecution of authors of such acts. Whether or not the concept is defined or not, whether or not we support the claims of people with a different sexual orientation, whether or not we approve of their sexual practices – but we must deal with the urgency of these matters and recognize that these people continue to be the target of murder in many of our societies, and they are more at risk than many of the other groups listed. This is unfortunately true, and recognizing this is not a call to give them special rights; it’s just recognition of a crime, that their fundamental rights, their right to life should not be refused. But to refuse to recognize this reality for legal or ideological or cultural reasons will have the consequence of continuing to hide our heads in the sand and to fail to alert states to these situations that break families. Believe me, sir, that a human group doesn’t need to be legally defined to be the victim of execution or massacre, since those who target their members have previously defined them. Rwanda has experienced this sixteen years ago indeed, and for this reason our delegation will vote for the amendment, and calls on other delegations to do likewise.

 

October 28, 2010

My friend Alvin marks the birth of a movement.

 

My very close friend Alvin - who is mad as hell.

 

 

We have had this  Ex-Gay minister here for a week and apparently the LGBT  community has reached a boiling point. A second  protest was held today at the University of the West Indies  for this vile and peculiar person to spout his misinformation. I assume that UWI will also be hosting the KKK when they arrive on these shores.

In any case the CAISO group sat there in their protest t-shirts which said:

HOMOSEXUAL AGENDA

  1. Buy Crix
  2. Spend time with family
  3. Work for equality

By all accounts it was all very peaceful.  Unfortunately for them my best friend Alvin was also there. He decided to stand up in the middle of the gospel meeting and ask the strange Pastor questions. I guess the pastor now knows that saying weird things to an audience in this part of the world is not the same as Uganda.

Alvin posted this on Facebook.

Today I witness first hand a “bully” disguised in a blanket called
religion as he tried to influence young folks into believing gay persons
will go to hell and they are Sinners who are the cause of spreading
diseases to mankind.
This former United Airlines flight attendant/homo (talk about flying the friendly skies) whose days living in San Francisco and, one would guess, wearing flowers in his hair; suddenly had a vision one night and the “Homosexual Chains” were broken. Now this brings several questions to mind.

1.Were the chains holding up a sling with you face up on it?

2. Were you doing a David Carradine at the time?

3.Was it a S&M routine gone bad or were you caught with Granma’s pearls again?.

Nevertheless some Bad Romance or Experience has made this poor soul into a self hating homo who is on a relentless pursuit to convince the world that Homosexuality can be cured and he’s living proof of it. Mind you if I was gay and looked like Phillip Lee I would hate myself so much that I also would start wearing polyester shirts and spread hate. Anyhows the born again Pastor not only passed judgment on those whose bedroom business is no concern of his and his flock of fools but went as far as to say that we are all rampant drug users who practice promiscuous sex and are trying to bring down the Church with our forbidden lifestyle.I am trying to find right now at least 1 Anti-Heterosexual group or religion but it seems we “Children Of God” are much too busy just trying to live our lives which may just be a great bother to Pastor’s like Lee and other Men of the Closet..sorry Cloth or just maybe they are missing out on that extra 10% of our salaries to help furnish penthouses for their boytoys and taking them on getaways to Ibiza .

Your rantings are not god’s word u ignorant red neck. And if that is what your ministry believe is salvation then drag me str8 to HELL. The messengers of HATE must not be allowed to spread propaganda to the young minds. Love yourself no matter if you’re Gay/Straight/Black/White/Poor/Rich . Do not ever think you are a Sinner because of who you choose to Love or have Sex with. We are no longer a silent minority ..Let your voices be heard..Be Proud of who you are..This is our time..SPEAK UP.

CAISO has published their own comprehensive take on the minister and his activities here.

October 27, 2010

Interview with Brendon O’Brien of CAISO

This interview with Brendon aired today on ieTV Channel 1 on the FLOW cable network. The group CAISO ( Coalition Advocating for the Inclusion of Sexual Orientation) is the one that held the t-shirt protest against a visiting ex-gay minister on October 20, 2010 – the first such protest in the country. I guess as Bob Dylan famously sang – The Times They Are a-Changin

For those puzzled by the first list item, “Crix” is a  cracker made in Trinidad & Tobago and is widely considered a food staple.

(NEW) on Vimeo as one high quality video

or on YouTube in two parts

CAISO has just posted an entry on their blog about the issue. Read it here.

October 26, 2010

Putting a face to the issue

Brendon O'Brien of CAISO

I conducted an interview today with Brendon O’Brien of the group CAISO ( Coalition Advocating for the Inclusion of Sexual Orientation) . This is the group that conducted a t-shirt protest of a visiting ‘ex-gay’ minister visiting from the US. They attended one of his seminars , making up about half of those present , and asked questions. Afterwards the group went to a local mall for dinner still wearing their t-shirts. In many other parts of the world this would be no big deal but here it was a pretty radical act.

Brendon is only 20 and , being a spoken word poet, very charismatic and a good communicator. His passion for fighting for equal rights was palpable and I think it made for an interesting interview. Heck, just having someone young talking about the subject in these parts is interesting enough. We discussed why there is suddenly a voice on the subject now and how social networking is a powerful tool for organizing young people. He seems very confident that the movement for changing  the society here will grow from strength to strength as he noted that people of all orientations are joining in. We shall see. One thing is for certain the fact the group escaped any violence or verbal taunting puts T&T miles ahead of Jamaica in that regard.

As usual the best part of the chat was with him and the other members of CAISO after the cameras stopped rolling – but what happens after the interview stays after the interview.

The interview will air tomorrow on ieTV at 7pm ( streaming  on Ustream live) and will be on YouTube at the same time. It will be linked here tomorrow.

Addendum – The video has now been uploaded and you can click here to see it.

October 25, 2010

No easy answers

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I have been posting a lot of things about the plight of LGBT kids who are frequently the victims of bullying and who have so much more to deal with as they try to find themselves.  This is , of course, just part of a bigger picture as many adults around the world are also bullied simply because of their sexual identity – who they are. It ranges from overt threats of death as seen in proposed legislation in Uganda to more subtle versions in the US in the form of DADT and DOMA. Even in countries such as the one I consider home, Canada, there are still manifestations of hatred based on ignorance. LGBT  Canadians and their supporters  had a long struggle to bring Canada to a point where a guarantee of non-discrimination is included in the Charter of Rights. I know I was out there marching back in the day.

In Trinidad & Tobago  ,where I am now working and living , there seems to be an emerging consciousness that one group is being deprived of basic rights that everyone should be entitled to. As the link in my last post might have illustrated, there is much homophobia here. It may be related to a high level of  professed religious allegiance and a lower level of  education and exposure to broader ideas – but it exists. There isn’t the overt and disgusting violent manifestation as is seen in Jamaica and, truth be told, there are even  a few very out there characters who escape violence even though they are themselves in public places. They can do so as long as they don’t use the ‘G’ word. If they said “we need Gay and Lesbian rights!”  they would probably be booed or attacked.  The unspoken rule here is that you can be yourself but not if you make it a matter of civil rights. That is just plain wrong. To say that would mean that the rest of society is somehow threatened.

In recent days here we have seen the group CAISO that decided to mobilize against the arrival of an Ex-gay US minister in T&T.  They decided to show up en masse  to one of his lectures wearing protest T-shirts and ask him questions. It might not seem like much but it was a first for this country. Naturally, as has happened around the world, other parts of the LGBT community decided to argue over this action. Some said it was wrong to draw attention to the ridiculous man, others said that it would only cause a backlash from the religious community.  Those points may have validity but to me the fact a group of young people chose to not care about social repercussions and decided to make a statement was important. It reminds me of Dan Savage’s It Gets Better Project and  the fact there was a backlash to that. Never mind he managed to get the US president to speak out on LGBT bullying ( though Hillary did a far better job) . Every little protest action is important in any rights movement. Trust me – I know.

CAISO has complained that they got no media coverage. I can’t speak for the rest of the media, as I have done several news items and interviews on related subjects,  but late afternoon on a weekend is not the best time to hold such a thing as we are all stretched for cameramen. It also didn’t help that the Prime Minister had called a press conference at the same time.  Word of advice send a press release of your intention to every media house.

I think it is time I bring back humor to my blog . The focus will stay but I need to be more myself  and blend it with the issues I care about.

Still reading Simon LeVey’s amazing book Gay, Straight and the Reason Why: The Reason for Sexual Orientation. Everyone should buy it.

October 21, 2010

The ex-human movement

Spirit Day has helped to draw attention to bullying and more specifically LGBTQ bullying but it doesn’t end with just a day. The problem persists and while the attention of the world media has been drawn to the cause it cannot be allowed to just end there.

Every day in a myriad of ways kids growing up knowing that there is something different about them are subjected to taunting and ridicule that too often leads them to give up hope. The pressure on them comes from words of hatred they hear constantly online, in the media and often in their own homes. This drives many a kid to think he or she is  an aberrant freak of nature – an unpleasant thing that just happened and that is inimical to the functioning of society. Kids don’t always know there is a bigger picture and that not everyone thinks the same way. They often just hear the loudest message  and internalize it.

As they try to deal with all the other pressures of a young life this nagging assault on their being can be a significant presence . They often have to spend so much energy hiding their feelings and their essence that it prevents them from realizing all they can be. It affects how they socialize, how they develop their romantic attachments and their self esteem. How wonderful it would be if LGBT kids could just be allowed to blossom and be themselves. Every young LGBT life lost is a possible Alan Turing, Oscar Wilde or E M Forster that the world will never be enriched by.

Here in Trinidad & Tobago where I work and live lately there is both latent and overt homophobia. It is not as bad as it is in other parts of the English Caribbean such as Jamaica but it is a reality. A kid growing up here is constantly aware of the hate. They are probably aware of the fact that if they are caught in any physical act there are laws that can put them in jail. They constantly hear from their churches ( and it is almost a universal message in this multi-religious society) that they are evil and going to hell. Imagine what that does?

Things have been better here in little ways for LGBT people and I suppose that filters down to young people. Now I see that a group  called ( no CAPS for them) his way out ministries is going to be here to spread the message that they can be converted to being straight. Apparently, this deluded group of bigots will be on the island  to tell parents of gay kids and kids that they can change. I am sure they can be ‘changed’ from being heterosexual too. To the extent that they can be turned into fucked up heterosexuals. Like young LGBT kids need another message telling them that there is something wrong with them. I suspect the message of every major psychiatric organization that says being LGBT is not a problem will be unheard here – except for me. And that assortment includes the WHO.

At least I see one good development . The group CAISO plans to protest him. This will be a first for this country. It requires a lot of bravery on the part of the protesters but I suspect they will pull it off. I know at least one friend who will be putting his money and his feet behind them.

The time has come for every LGBT person who has survived the hatred and stupidity to not think “well that is their problem now”. Every LGBT kid who gives in to the hatred and commits suicide is an indictment of every older person who doesn’t speak out – who doesn’t become a role model.

T&T can become a shining beacon to the rest of  the Caribbean that difference can be accepted. Not tolerated – I hate that word. It just takes all the LGBT voices to speak as one for politicians to realize that they have to pay attention.

Speak out!  Do you want to be on your death-bed knowing you sat quietly and let LGBT kids die because you didn’t say a word to make the world a little more welcoming?

If you want to add me feel free to do so at  @globewriter on Twitter and at www,facebook.com/globewriter ( just say LGBT in your message). Let’s expand the global conversation.

October 11, 2010

The sadness that dare speak its name.

Moving tribute to all the kids who lost hope. Let’s see if we can all intervene and stop this ugliness.

Via Pride in Utah a great site that needs support.

On the good side I have two interviews scheduled tomorrow both dealing with bullying and one specifically with bullying based on orientation.

Happy N.C.O.D. to my UK friends ( and that means you M and C)