The Safe House Project 2009 for Displaced & Homeless MSM/Transgender reviewed & more



In response to numerous requests for more information on the defunct Safe House Pilot Project that was to address the growing numbers of displaced and homeless MSM & Transgender persons especially teens in Kingston in 2007/8/9, a review of the relevance of the project and the possible avoidance of present issues with some of its previous residents if it were kept open.

Recorded June 12, 2013; also see from the former Executive Director named in the podcast more background on the project: HERE

Monday, February 23, 2009

Gleaner Editorial - Credit to the PNP in the face of Mr Smith's stupidity

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IT IS not often that Jamaican political parties stand in defence of a larger principle at the expense of the immediately expedient. When the parties confront the dilemma of such choices, their preferred option, usually, is to remain quiet.

So, last week's break from the norm by the Opposition People's National Party (PNP) was not only right, but a refreshingly rare display of courage. It brought into sharp focus the woeful cowardice on the part of the Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) and a crass permissiveness by its leader, Prime Minister Bruce Golding, in the Ernest Smith affair.

Homosexuality, and particularly the male version thereof, is highly offensive behaviour in Jamaica's popular culture. At least, that is the perceived wisdom, given the violence that is sometimes perpetrated against gay people, for no other reason than that they are what they are.

Mustering political popularity

Being anti-homosexual is an easy way, therefore, to muster political popularity, demanding no depth of thought or engagement of ideas, but only an incitement to hate. Which is precisely what we believe was exemplified by Mr Smith, the JLP member of parliament for South West St Ann when, in our view, he abused the privilege of the House of Representatives, with his recent anti-gay diatribe.

In this cheap shot at popularity, Mr Smith claimed gays to be abusive or violent and questioned their right, as against other citizens, to hold firearms and to form organisations. The ridiculous Mr Smith even suggested that the Jamaica Constabulary Force was overrun by gays and suggested that the institution was thereby contaminated. He, subsequently, offered a tepid apology to the police that did nothing to alter a parliamentary intervention that was intellectually vacuous.

But Mr Smith's nonsense, it appears, has no bounds. Last week, in a total absence of shame, Mr Smith, whose day job is as an attorney-at-law, proposed the banning of the gay-rights lobby organisation Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays, J-FLAG, which would clearly be in contravention of Section 23 (1) of the Constitution that affords all citizens the right of "freedom of peaceful assembly and association" and to "associate with other persons and, in particular, to form or belong to trade unions or other associations for the protection of their interests".

Move to incite hate and violence

Thankfully, even as it recognised the cultural aversion in Jamaica to homosexuality, the PNP acknowledged the potential of Mr Smith's gratuitous remarks to incite hate and violence and urged political leaders to refrain from an excess of language. "The physical safety and broader human rights of these citizens should not be undermined by gratuitous grandstanding on this issue," the Opposition party said.

The PNP declared itself "committed to the principle of freedom of association that is enshrined in Jamaica's Constitution".

No room for selective application

We welcome the PNP's declaration because, in a democracy, it is not permissible for there to be a selective application of rights and freedoms. Its silence in the face of an outburst of diatribe from one of its legislators suggests that the JLP apparently does not have a view of that matter.

But what is more worrying to us is the silence of Prime Minister Golding, who, whatever his private views, has a public responsibility for the security and safety of all Jamaicans, which, we feel, was threatened by Mr Smith's display of stupidity.


The opinions on this page, except for the above, do not necessarily reflect the views of The Gleaner. To respond to a Gleaner editorial, email us: editor@gleanerjm.com or fax: 922-6223. Responses should be no longer than 400 words. Not all responses will be published.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Condemn Homophobic Remarks - Human Rights Watch Release

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Prime Minister Should Speak Out Against Violence and Discrimination, Affirm Rights for All

(New York, February 19, 2009) – Jamaica’s leaders should condemn the comments of a governing-party member of parliament who called for gay organizations to be outlawed and demanded life imprisonment for homosexual conduct, Human Rights Watch said today in a letter to Prime Minister Bruce Golding. Citing endemic violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in Jamaica, Human Rights Watch urged the government to repeal the colonial-era law against “buggery” and publicly affirm equality before the law.

During a parliamentary debate on February 10, 2009, Ernest Smith of the Jamaica Labor Party said that “homosexual activities seem to have overtaken this country.” He described homosexuals as “abusive, violent,” and called for tightening the “buggery” law criminalizing consensual homosexual conduct to impose sentences of up to life in prison. On February 16, Smith told a Jamaican newspaper that J-FLAG, the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays, “should be outlawed,” adding: “How can you legitimize an organization that is formed for the purposes of committing criminal offenses.”

“The prime minister should unequivocally condemn public figures who call for denying people their human rights,” said Rebecca Schleifer, advocate for the Health and Human Rights Division of Human Rights Watch “In a climate of violence where homophobia puts LGBT people’s lives at risk, spewing such hatred is inexcusable.”

In recent years, Human Rights Watch has documented extensive violence faced by LGBT people across Jamaica. This includes mob attacks in which gay men have been seriously wounded. In January 2008, for example, a mob attacked four men in Mandeville, surrounding their home and demanding they leave the community because they were gay. The mob slashed the inhabitants with sticks, stones, knives, and machetes.

That attack echoed another in the same town on Easter Sunday, April 8, 2007, when a crowd of about 100 men gathered outside a church where 150 people were attending the funeral of a gay man. The crowd broke the windows with bottles and threatened to kill the mourners. Police were called to the scene, but refused to intervene. Officers stopped gay men from leaving and searched their vehicles, but did not restrain or detain members of the mob who threatened mourners with sticks, stones, and batons as they tried to escape.

Earlier that week, on April 2, 2007, a crowd in Montego Bay attacked three men alleged to be gay who were attending a carnival. Witnesses said the crowd chased the men down the street, slashed one man with knives and beat him with a manhole cover. According to local press reports, at least 30-40 people beat another man as he sought refuge in a bar, tearing his clothes from him and striking him as he bled severely from a head wound.

On February 14, 2007, a mob of at least 200 in Kingston surrounded and attacked four men, including J-FLAG’s co-chair, calling for the men to be beaten to death because they were gay. When police arrived, instead of protecting the victims, the officers verbally abused them and struck one in the face, head, and stomach.

Human Rights Watch wrote twice to Prime Minister Golding about the 2008 Mandeville incident. In April 2008, it urged the prime minister to “express your condemnation of homophobic violence publicly,” adding: “We also hope that your response to such violence will begin a dialogue with human rights groups working to end homophobic violence and abuse in Jamaica and strengthen efforts to protect all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Jamaicans against further such violence and abuse.” However, Golding has not publicly spoken to defend LGBT people’s human rights.

In its letter today, Human Rights Watch pointed to Smith’s call to ban an LGBT group as evidence of the dangerous effects of so-called “sodomy” laws like Jamaica’s, a legacy of British colonial rule, on democratic freedoms. The UN Human Rights Committee, which authoritatively interprets the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), found in the 1994 case of Toonen v. Australia that such laws violate covenant protections for privacy and against discrimination. Jamaica ratified the covenant in 1975.

Jamaica’s Constitution and the covenant both affirm the right to freedom of association. The special representative of the UN secretary-general on human rights defenders has specifically pointed to “those who defend the rights of ...lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) persons” as “defenders who are at particular risk.”

“Jamaica’s buggery law not only justifies hate and provides a legal basis for repression,” said Schleifer. “Smith’s remarks show how such laws can be used to threaten freedoms of association and expression, as well as the work of human rights defenders.”

To read the letter from Human Rights Watch to Prime Minister Golding, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/en/news/2009/02/19/letter-prime-minister-golding

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on Jamaica, please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/en/americas/jamaica

To read the December 2008 Human Rights Watch report, “This Alien Legacy: The Origins of ‘Sodomy’ Laws in British Colonialism,” please visit:
http://www.hrw.org/en/reports/2008/12/17/alien-legacy-0

For more information, please contact:
In New York, Scott Long (English): +1-646-641-5655 (mobile)
In New York, Rebecca Schleifer (English, Spanish): +1-212-216-1273; or +1-646-331-0324 (mobile)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Gays In The Church - Gleaner Letter to the Editor

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The Editor, Sir:

It is ridiculous how much time the Jamaican society spends debating the gay issue when there are so many others in the society and the Church, as a whole, to be addressed.

Why are the churches shunning them? Are they not entitled to hear the word of God? If so, why aren't the adulterers, liars and thieves thrown out? We know there are many of these types of people in the Church who go every week and pretend to be Christians only to go home and continue their sinful behaviour.

The church has no right to try and force change on anyone. It won't work. If a person desires change and looks to God for it and believes God is powerful enough to grant his or her desire, it will happen. No pastor can counsel it to happen; the individual must come to that decision himself or herself.

Reconditioning not simple

I do not feel you can 'recondition' gay people. I'd like to ask these so-called Christians if they would be able to just switch their heterosexual desires to homosexual ones if counselled enough to do so? To believe that homosexuality is a choice is ludicrous. Why would someone choose to be a target for violence in such a homophobic society, to be shunned from churches, disowned by family, lose jobs and lose friends?

God preached compassion towards all sinners. All the people trying to keep gays out of the Church because they believe it is sinful should be pushed out the Church themselves. Since everyone is a sinner, the churches should be empty.

People do not have to accept homosexuality but everyone has the right to live and choose to live how he or she wants, especially if they are not bringing harm to others.

I am, etc.,

STEPHANIE
stephynegril@yahoo.com
Altamonte Springs
Florida

Monday, February 16, 2009

Gays slam Church - Say pastors ignore closet group, fear flock exodus

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HEADLINE
Nadisha Hunter, Gleaner Writer
Church leaders have failed to adequately counsel and interface with homosexuals in their congregations because they fear unpopularity could trigger a membership exodus, gays have claimed.
Marcus Bryan, a member of Sunshine Cathedral Jamaica, a church formed for homosexuals, charged that most clerics were wary of guilt by association and, therefore, refrained from seriously addressing the issue.
"There are ministers who offer one-on-one counselling and other support, but will have to be careful, as it will result in fallout in their congregations," Bryan told The Gleaner.
He said ministers who were prepared to deal with the situation were only aiming to change their sexual orientation.

Bryan is a former Roman Catholic but left that denomination because of the church's doctrinal opposition to homosexuality.
"I couldn't stay at the church because all they do is pray for changes in me and I didn't want to worship in a place where I have to leave my sexuality outside.
"I love my sexuality and it plays a significant part of my life," he stated.
The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG), the island's main sex-minority lobby, said the organisation has been concerned about the treatment of homosexuals by local churches.

"Our clients have over the years expressed their discomfort with many religious institutions which have and continue to make worshipping in that church uncomfortable, as they preach hatred towards gays and lesbians from the pulpit," said Jason McFarlane, J-FLAG's programmes manager.

Fearful of being labelled
He also claimed that clergy who were compassionate towards the gay and lesbian community have often been prevented from offering support because they were fearful of being labelled as homosexuals.
Prominent church leaders from various denominational groupings have called the gays' claims disingenuous.
The Rev Peter Garth of Hope Gospel Assembly has rebuked the gay community, saying that part of the resistance to sex minorities was based on their open promotion of homosexuality and active recruitment of children.
"These persons don't keep this to themselves, they flaunt their behaviour and set to put their lifestyle to others," said Garth. "Even when you send your children to school, they are at risk because these persons will try to address them."
He also argues that homosexuality was not natural, saying, "There is no such thing as gay genes and nobody was born attracted to the same sex," he claimed.
Bishop Delford Davis, head of Power of Faith Ministries, acknowledged that homosexuals faced the possibility of ostracism by fellow congregants. He urged understanding that the same levels of stigmatisation which dogged society existed in the Church.
"It takes a lot of courage to reveal to the public who you are, based on narrow-minded persons in society. It's the same in the Church, there are mature and immature Christians, so they are not motivated," stated Davis.

The bishop said the Church had a policy to refer homosexuals to counsellors to address issues.
Karl Johnson, president of Jamaica Council of Churches, said homosexuality was an emerging concern in the modern church which denominations would have to face head-on.
"No church representative can say they don't have the issue, it was always part of society but has become more rampant in modern society," Johnson told The Gleaner.

No one is perfect
"We try to diffuse any activities which will make the person feel less of a human being. Moreover, if this person shows changes, things will go back to normality, as no one is perfect," said Johnson, who is also general secretary of the Jamaica Baptist Union.
The Rev Al Miller, pastor of Fellowship Tabernacle, said homosexuality was inconsistent with fundamentalist biblical values. He said his church was involved in restorative therapy to alter their sexual urges.
"We try to redeem persons and restore them by establishing a personal relationship with them and God so they can overcome soon," he said.
"A number of homosexuals recover, as the power of redemptive work can break free any barrier. It's a reality and though it's contrary to the word of God, persons have to accept it and deal with it," he said.
nadisha.hunter@gleanerjm.com

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Press Release - Disturbed at MP's Remarks 11.02.09

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Sunshine Cathedral Jamaica (SCJ) is deeply concerned about recent statements made by Member of Parliament for South-West St. Ann, Ernest Smith regarding homosexuals in Jamaica.

Mr. Smith seeks to categorize homosexuals as inherently morally corrupt individuals with violent tendencies and asserts that homosexuals in Jamaica are brazen enough to form themselves into groups. If ‘brazen’ refers to the work of SCJ in providing a safe space for members of the same-gender loving community to worship God then we have no choice but to continue in our ‘brazenness’ by organizing and providing this space for thousands of Jamaicans who do not feel comfortable worshipping in traditional churches.

SCJ is forced to exist because sexual minorities in Jamaica live in an environment of intolerance, hatred and violence. This hatred is often espoused by members of the Christian community who often expel or exclude homosexuals from their worship.

We consider this to be a betrayal of Christian values.

The love of God is inclusive and does not consider man’s inventions of prejudices and bigotry.

As John 3:16 says:

"For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son so that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but have everlasting life."

God says “whosoever” as testament to his love of all mankind that believes in him. He is not subject to the whims of politics and social agendas. His love is everlasting and true.

Mr. Smith’s claim that there are “too many homosexuals in the police force” and further that the buggery law should attract a life sentence is the most ridiculous and backward call made and indicates Mr. Smith’s narrow appreciation of social justice.

Galatians 6:10 says:

“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

This is a directive to humanity to stand up for justice. Our national pledge calls us to stand up for justice, brotherhood, and peace and unfortunately Mr. Smith has betrayed this national duty.

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JFLAG Excludes Homeless MSM from IDAHOT Symposium on Homelessness






In a shocking move JFLAG decided not to invite or include homeless MSM in their IDAHO activity for 2013 thus leaving many in wonderment as to the reason for their existence or if the symposium was for "experts" only while offering mere tokenism to homeless persons in the reported feeding program. LISTEN TO THE AUDIO ENTRY HERE sad that the activity was also named in honour of one of JFLAG's founders who joined the event via Skype only to realise the issue he held so dear in his time was treated with such disrespect and dishonour. Have LGBT NGOs lost their way and are so mainstream they have forgotten their true calling?

also see a flashback to some of the issues with the populations and the descending relationships between JASL, JFLAG and the displaced/homeless LGBT youth in New Kingston: Rowdy Gays Strike - J-FLAG Abandons Raucous Homosexuals Misbehaving In New Kingston

also see all the posts in chronological order by date from Gay Jamaica Watch HERE and GLBTQ Jamaica HERE

GLBTQJA (Blogger): HERE

see previous entries on LGBT Homelessness from the Wordpress Blog HERE

Gender Identity/Transgederism Radio discussion Jamaica March 2014





Radio program Everywoman on Nationwide Radio 90FM March 20th 2014 with Dr Karen Carpenter as stand-in host with a transgender activist and co-founder of Aphrodite's P.R.I.D.E Jamaica and a gender non conforming/lesbian guest as well on the matters of identity, sex reassignment surgery and transexuality.

CLICK HERE for a recording of the show

Newstalk 93FM's Issues On Fire: Polygamy Should Be Legalized In Jamaica 08.04.14



debate by hosts and UWI students on the weekly program Issues on Fire on legalizing polygamy with Jamaica's multiple partner cultural norms this debate is timely.

Also with recent public discourse on polyamorous relationships, threesomes (FAME FM Uncensored) and on social.


What to Do .....

When Arrested and taken to a Police Station you have the right to:

a. Make a phone call: to a lawyer or relative or anyone
b. Ask to see a lawyer immediately: if you don’t have the money ask for a Duty Council
c. A Duty Council is a lawyer provided by the state
d. Talk to a lawyer before you talk to the police
e. Tell your lawyer if anyone hits you and identify who did so by name and number
f. Give no explanations excuses or stories: you can make your defense later in court based on what you and your lawyer decided
g. Ask the sub officer in charge of the station to grant bail once you are charged with an offence
h. Ask to be taken before a justice of The Peace immediately if the sub officer refuses you bail
i. Demand to be brought before a Resident Magistrate and have your lawyer ask the judge for bail
j. Ask that any property taken from you be listed and sealed in your presence
Cases of Assault:An assault is an apprehension that someone is about to hit you

The following may apply:
1) Call 119 or go to the station or the police arrives depending on the severity of the injuries

2) The report must be about the incident as it happened, once the report is admitted as evidence it becomes the basis for the trial

3) Critical evidence must be gathered as to the injuries received which may include a Doctor’s report of the injuries.

4) The description must be clearly stated; describing injuries directly and identifying them clearly, show the doctor the injuries clearly upon the visit it must be able to stand up under cross examination in court.

5) Misguided evidence threatens the credibility of the witness during a trial; avoid the questioning of the witnesses credibility, the tribunal of fact must be able to rely on the witness’s word in presenting evidence

6) The court is guided by credible evidence on which it will make it’s finding of facts

7) Bolster the credibility of a case by a report from an independent disinterested party.

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What I am reading at times ......

Thanks for your Donations

Hello readers,

thank you for your donations via Paypal in helping to keep this blog going, my limited frontline community work, temporary shelter assistance at my home and related costs. Please continue to support me and my allies in this venture that has now become a full time activity. When I first started blogging in late 2007 it was just as a pass time to highlight GLBTQ issues in Jamaica under then JFLAG's blogspot page but now clearly there is a need for more forumatic activity which I want to continue to play my part while raising more real life issues pertinent to us.

Donations presently are accepted via Paypal where buttons are placed at points on this blog(immediately below, GLBTQJA (Blogspot), GLBTQJA (Wordpress) and the Gay Jamaica Watch's blog as well. If you wish to send donations otherwise please contact: glbtqjamaica@live.com or Tel: 1-876-8134942 (leave a message just in case)




Activities & Plans: ongoing and future

  • To continue this venture towards website development with an E-zine focus

  • Work with other Non Governmental organizations old and new towards similar focus and objectives

  • To find common ground on issues affecting GLBTQ and straight friendly persons in Jamaica towards tolerance and harmony

  • Exposing homophobic activities and suggesting corrective solutions

  • To formalise GLBTQ Jamaica's activities in the long term

  • Continuing discussion on issues affecting GLBTQ people in Jamaica and elsewhere

  • Welcoming, examining and implemeting suggestions and ideas from you the viewing public

  • Present issues on HIV/AIDS related matters in a timely and accurate manner

  • Assist where possible victims of homophobic violence and abuse financially, temporary shelter(my home) and otherwise

  • Track human rights issues in general with a view to support for ALL

Thanks again
Mr. H or Howie

Tel: 1-876-8134942
lgbtevent@gmail.com








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