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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Response: LGBT tolerance growing in Jamaica, push to repeal of anti-gay law (Reuters Article)

Protester in NYC
The article titled – ‘LGBT tolerance growing in Jamaica, push to repeal of anti-gay law’[1] dated January 18, 2014 published on Reuters by Aileen Torres-Bennett is misleading, ambiguous and irresponsible. The notion of an increasing atmosphere of tolerance towards LGBT individuals living in Jamaica, so strongly advocated by the writer is nothing but a theoretical assumption posited by a privileged few in Jamaica.

The conspiracy theory of ‘growing LGBT tolerance’ in Jamaica is unfounded and there is no evidence to prove otherwise. The continuous opposition to rid Jamaica of its punitive laws against same-sex intimacy and sexual intercourse by the church, and the society on a whole, as well as the constant human rights abuse and loss of lives faced by LGBT Jamaicans, benign the essence of the writer’s arguments.

The article failed to demonstrate the existence of ‘growing LGBT tolerance’, by not providing the reader with plausible evidentiary support or arguments. I must concede that the acknowledgement of LGBT individuals by the Jamaican Prime Minister – Portia Simpson-Miller represent progress, however, this should not be misconstrued as a growing tolerance towards gays in Jamaica.  The Prime Minister did not argued for a repeal of the buggery law as indicated in the article but simply responded to a question posed during a televised political debate leading up to the General Elections in 2011.

Portia Simpson-Miller is of the view that the Buggery Act should be brought to the House of Representative where after consulting with their constituents all MPs should vote based on their conscience.[2] Yet unfortunately, the reluctance of the Jamaican government to stem mob attacks, beatings and killings of Jamaicans perceived or known to be LGBT is alarming.

The writer failed to give an account of the numerous crimes against LGBT persons in Jamaica and ignored the significance of the 25-year-old gay man – who moved to the United States from Jamaica in November 2012 and now has a job raising awareness for LGBT asylum-seekers.  The article quoted the young man saying, “My cousin was murdered on suspicion that he was gay. A friend of mine was stabbed to death.”

According to the IACHR  2012 report, “discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression is widespread throughout Jamaica, and that discrimination against those in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and intersex (LGBTI)  communities  is  entrenched  in Jamaican  State  institutions.    Those  who  are  not heterosexual  or  cisgender face  political  and  legal stigmatization,  police  violence an inability to access the justice system, as well as intimidation, violence, and pressure in their homes and communities.”[3]

There have been numerous reports of homophobic violence in the past year which contradicts the writer’s suggestion of ‘growing tolerance toward LGBT Jamaicans’. In the year 2013:
§  A homeless young gay man was set on fire and thrown into a gully to burn on the 24th of January,[4]  
§  Dwayne Jones, 16-year-old transgender woman was murdered on July 22nd ,[5]
§  A mob called for the head of an alleged gay constable on July 31st in Kingston,
§  On August 1st, two homosexual men were mobbed and wounded in St Catherine,[6]
§  On the 10th of August police rescued a transgender woman after a mob gave chased in Portmore,[7]
§  On August 22nd , five gay men were trapped and barricaded by an angry mob in Green Gully Manchester,[8]
§  On August 23rd, two men were trapped by a homophobic mob for ‘appearing ‘gay,[9]
§  On August 27, 41-year-old gay man was murdered and burnt by unknown assailants,[10]
§  House Occupied By Gays Firebombed on the 8th of October,[11]  
§  A large patrol of police officers beat and pepper sprayed a group of homeless gays as well as set their belongings on fire in Kingston Jamaica on the 15th of October,[12]
§  31-year-old Keshema Tulloch, an openly gay woman and otherwise known as ‘Royal’ was shot by a Police Officer on the 25th of October,[13]
§  And 22-year-old Jason Reid (a.k.a Jason Jahson Reid on Facebook) ̶ a Bisexual Christian young man was brutally murdered on the 19th of December.[14]

In addition to the list above are several alleged reports of ‘corrective rape’ carried out against perceived or known lesbians. Most incidents of attack and abuse often go unreported due to fear of future attacks. Also, for those that are reported, Jamaican based organizations, as well as government officials continue to down play the severity of extreme intolerance toward gays, in an effort to promote a Pro-Gay image of Jamaica.

Furthermore, the Constitutional Court in Jamaica thrown out an application challenging the refusal of three television stations to air an advertisement promoting tolerance for homosexuals in November 2013, based on a sad fact that the Jamaican Charter of Rights does not afford protection from discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

The National Survey of Attitudes and Perceptions of Jamaicans towards Same Sex Relationships 2012 study shows the persistence of strong negative views towards same sex relationships across all sectors of society. Most respondents disagreed with amending both the buggery law (76.7%) and the Charter Fundamental Rights and Freedoms to protect the rights of those who are part of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community (65%). 85% of the respondents felt that homosexuality is immoral.[15]

Finally, a political promise of a conscience vote to review Jamaica’s Anti-gay punitive laws three (3) years ago from the Prime Minister should not be considered as a measure of tolerance, especially when the political appetite to change the Buggery law among government representatives, backed by the church and many aspects of civil society is lacking. I strongly support Javed Jaghai Aajri lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Jamaica's Buggery Law which violates all gay men  rights to privacy under Jamaica's Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms.



References:

[1] LGBT tolerance growing in Jamaica, push to repeal of anti-gay law http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/18/us-jamaica-lgbt-idUSBREA0H0BI20140118
[2] PNP Clarifies Buggery Law Statement http://jamaica-gleaner.com/latest/article.php?id=34079
[3] Inter-American Commission on Human Rights: 2012 Report on Jamaica http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/docs/pdf/Jamaica2012eng.pdf
[4] CVM TV News Report (starts at 00:51 sec) http://www.cvmtv.com/videos_1.php?id=662&section=watch
[8] CVM TV NEWSWATCH http://www.cvmtv.com/videos_1.php?id=1747&section=watch (starts at 13:36 mins
[14] 22-year-old Jason Reid  ̶ a Bisexual Christian young man brutally murdered  http://on.fb.me/1kMGfGz
[15] National Survey of Attitudes and Perceptions of Jamaicans Towards Same Sex Relationships 2012 study http://bit.ly/1aCbuNi


Friday, October 25, 2013

Lesbian Harassed And Then Shot by Jamaican Police

31-year-old Keshema Tulloch, an openly gay woman
31-year-old Keshema Tulloch, an openly gay woman and otherwise known as ‘Royal’ was shot by a Police Officer earlier today, October 25, 2013, around 10 a.m. after being bullied and physically attacked by an anti-gay man in Half Way Tree, Kingston.

According to the victim’s father Winston Tulloch, “Royal got into an altercation with a man who called her a ‘sadomite’ (anti-gay slur) and punched her in the face. She then proceeded to chase her attacker with a knife. The man ran to a police officer at the Texaco Gas station. While running towards the police officer and her attacker, the police officer shot her in her arm and she fell to the ground. The police then opened fire and shot her a second time in her chest.”

He further stated that, “the man who physically attacked her was pressured by the police officer to pursue criminal charges (Attempted Assault) against her.”

Royal is currently hospitalized in intensive care at the Kingston Public Hospital and was formally charged with attempted assault at 5:00 p.m. She is under police guard while being treated.

For the past three years Royal has been targeted and abused by police officers for her sexual identity, ‘a lesbian’ and her manly demeanor. In March 2011, at the Pavilion Mall in Half Way Tree, Kingston, she was brutally beaten by a few police officers. An anti-gay slur such as ‘Sadomite’ was hurled at her and she was mocked for appearing as a man before the attack began. It is believed that she sought help from the Jamaica Forum for Lesbian, All-Sexuals and Gay (J-FLAG) as well as reported all incidents of abuse and other attacks, however, no help was received from the local LGBT Advocacy organization, J-FLAG.

Recently on October 15, 2013, at 7:00 p.m, a large patrol of police officers beat and pepper sprayed a group of homeless gays as well as set their belongings on fire in New Kingston Jamaica.[1] Royal’s family is deeply worried that the police officer is going to kill her and put her away for a crime she didn’t commit.

Gays in Jamaica, or those suspected of being gay, are routinely victimized by all forms of ill-treatment and harassment by the police.[2] J-FLAG continues to report serious human rights abuses, including assault with deadly weapons, “corrective rape” of women accused of being lesbians, arbitrary detention, mob attacks, stabbings, setting on fire, harassment of LGBT patients by hospital and prison staff, and targeted shootings of such persons.[3]

The abuse, discrimination and shooting of lesbians living in Jamaica should not be tolerated by Jamaica’s security force.  We are urging the government of Jamaica to step in and free Keshema Tulloch, as well as charge the police officer for attempted murder. It is time for Portia Simpson-Miller to protect the lives of lesbians and gays. Enough is enough!


JUSTICE FOR KESHEMA TULLOCH


31-year-old Keshema Tulloch, an openly gay woman

31-year-old Keshema Tulloch, an openly gay woman

31-year-old Keshema Tulloch, an openly gay woman



31-year-old Keshema Tulloch, an openly gay woman

31-year-old Keshema Tulloch, an openly gay woman

31-year-old Keshema Tulloch, an openly gay woman


























Citations:


[1] CVM TV News Watch (From 12:42-13:33) mins http://www.cvmtv.com/videos_1.php?id=2065&section=watch
[3] U.S.A Department of State. June 21, 2013. Travel Advisory to Jamaica: Special Concerns for LGBT Travelers http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1147.html




Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Jamaica's Anti-gay Former Prime Minister Bruce Golding Speech Disrupted By Gay Activists In New York: Protest

Tuesday night (October 22, 2013) in New York a dozen queer activists from Jamaica Anti-Homophobia Stand protested a speech by Jamaica's anti-gay and authoritarian former Prime Minister Bruce Golding at the Schomburg Center of. 

Golding’s talk was part of the Caribbean International Network Lecture Series sponsored by the Jamaica Observer, First Global Bank, Golden Krust, Jampact and Bejamins. Yes! These are the sponsors of state terrorism in Jamaica. 

Chanting,“Bruce, your wanted! Unrepentant murder!” and “Gay rights are human rights!” the protesters lined the sidewalk outside the Harlem institution for over an hour and received comments from supportive and non-supportive bystanders.

In May 2010 under Prime Minister Bruce Golding's watch, over 73 Jamaican residents were massacred in Tivoli Gardens by Jamaica security forces. No one has since been held accountable.

Famously, Golding is also symbolic of Jamaica's homophobic culture. He publicly announced his opposition to gays serving in his Cabinet on BBC Hard Talk in 2008 and has since made other vitriolic homophobic statements.

Jamaica Anti-Homophobia stand feels strongly that Bruce Golding must be held accountable for the human rights offenses he oversaw during his tenure, including the Tivoli Gardens Massacre and the perpetuation of anti-gay attacks.






















Sunday, October 20, 2013

Jamaican Police Officers Attacked Homeless Gay Men Inside Road Drains

Gully/drains where homeless Gay Men live in Jamaica: Photo (Courtesy of Maurice Tomlinson)
Gays in Jamaica, or those suspected of being gay, are routinely victims of ill-treatment and harassment by the police, which occasionally leads to torture by the same force that is to serve and protect.[1] The latest of such attack occurred on October 15, 2013, at 7:00 p.m, when a large patrol of police officers beat and pepper sprayed a group of homeless gays as well as set their belongings on fire in Kingston Jamaica.

According to CVM TV News Watch, “St Andrew Central police launched a crackdown against youths  who they said are unruly gay men, in new Kingston. Several items of clothing as well as utensils and belongings to the men were burned in a gully where some of them lived near Trafalgar road. The men fled on the approach of the security team but slowly return to see their belongings going up in smoke. The youths could be heard pleading and begging for urgent assistance.”[2]


20-year-old Marlondo, a homeless gay man and one of the victims assaulted by the police, reported that,” I was inside the gully with about twenty of my gay colleagues when I heard one of them shouted Police! Police! I was naked and I did not believe that Police was there until I look up and see the blue flashing lights, so I hastily put on my clothes and was about t climb out of the gully when I saw the police jumped out of the vehicle so I turn back and ran inside the gully. The police cornered me at the opposite side of the gully between Scotia building and Island Car Rental on Trafalgar Road where they used pepper spray on us, as well as beat two (2) of my friends.” Similar stories of arbitrary detention and harassment by police officers are often not investigated.[3]

Anika Gray, an Attorney-at-law, was shocked at the hostility the police displayed towards these men, three of whom were brave enough to show up at the police station the following day to file a report. “The officers flatly refused to take the report of the alleged attack by the other officers claiming that it had to be handled by the Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM),” said Miss Gray.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has received information which indicates that in some instances, police are also perpetrators of violence, threatening and beating individuals suspected of being gay.  Police abuse has reportedly led to mob killings or other violence, and there are accounts of men who are suspected of having sex with men who have had to flee their homes out of fear of being attacked after police abuse prompted violence by private community actors.  Police violence not only reaffirms the message to the gay community that there is no recourse to justice and gay men can will get no protection from the state, but it is often a catalyst for further violence and abuse from the rest of the community.[4]

For several years, young gay men who have been, beaten and chased out of their communities by their families and neighbors have been living inside the city’s drains, gullies and underground tunnels, where sewage and waste water continuously flows. Underground sewage plants and drains are no place for human domicile. With no help from the government and the wider society, homeless gay men rely on each other to survive.

These young men are constantly hiding underground to avoid prosecution from state security forces that threatens to beat and arrest them for loitering within the corporate area of Kingston. A recent incident within the corporate area, saw homeless young gay man was set on fire then thrown into a gully and left to burn by unknown assailants January 24, 2013.[5] Without any collaborative evidence, the police superintendent concludes that the victim attackers were his gay peers.

The insistent harassment and constant violence against persons based on their sexual orientation by armed police forces goes against any human’s rights as a citizen of his or her country. The freedom from arbitrary detention, torture and other cruel inhumane treatment by the government and its agents are non-exist within the LBGTQ community living in Jamaica.

How long will the United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights  continue to watch Jamaica and its ruling government breach international human rights laws by beating, terrorizing, and arbitrarily detaining suspected and known homosexuals?


Gully/drains where homeless Gay Men live in Jamaica:Photo (Courtesy of Maurice Tomlinson)

Gully/drains where homeless Gay Men live in Jamaica:Photo (Courtesy of Maurice Tomlinson)






































Citations: 


[2] CVM TV News Watch (From 12:42-13:33) mins http://www.cvmtv.com/videos_1.php?id=2065&section=watch
[3] Country Report on Human Rights Practices (2011) http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/186737.pdf
[4] Inter-American Commission on Human Rights: 2012 Report on Jamaica http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/docs/pdf/Jamaica2012eng.pdf
[5] Homeless Gay Youth Set Ablaze in Sleep And Left to Burn: Jamaica http://www.minority-insight.org/2013/09/homeless-gay-youth-set-ablaze-in-sleep.html  




Thursday, October 10, 2013

House Occupied By Gays Firebombed: Jamaica's Prime Minister Remains Silent

Dwayne Jones dressed in a black tank top and shorts at the said
house with friends, 2 months before he was murdered by an anti-gay mob
The reluctance of the Jamaican government to stem mob attacks, beatings and killings of Jamaicans, identified or perceived to be homosexual resulted in another mob attack on four gay men and firebombing of the domicile where they were taking refuge on October 8, 2013.  

According to the Western Bureau cited by  The Jamaica Gleaner News Report, “Four homosexual men, who captured a house in Porto Bello, St James close to two years ago and had been residing there ever since, were put to flight early Tuesday night by an angry mob.  Shortly after 7 p.m., one of the men went outside the house, where he was confronted by a mob comprising some 14 men. They immediately attacked him and in the ensuing commotion, the men had to flee for their lives. The house was subsequently firebombed.[1]

The report also claims that “the house was the last place where 16-year-old Dwayne 'Gully Queen' Jones, who was killed by a mob in St James earlier this year[2], lived. The men who were attacked on Tuesday night were said to be his friends.

Recently, Jamaica Anti-Homophobia Stand Protested outside of UN General Assembly in New York City, calling on Jamaica’s Prime Minister Portia-Simpson Miller to protect homosexuals from violent mob attacks and discrimination. In response, the Prime Minister blew a kiss at and wave to the protesters.[3]

UN Protest against Jamaica's Anti-gay Laws on September 26, 2013

Since the brutal murder of Dwayne Jones, 16-year-old transgender woman on July 22, 2013, a mob called for the head of an alleged gay constable on July 31st in Kingston. On August 1st, two homosexual men were mobbed and wounded in St Catherine. On the 10th of August police rescued a transgender woman after a mob gave chase in Portmore. On August 22, 2013, five gay men were trapped and barricaded by an angry mob in Green Gully Manchester. On August 23, 2013, two men were trapped by a homophobic mob for ‘appearing ‘gay. And on August 27, 2013, 41-year-old gay man was murdered and burnt by unknown assailants. Dean Moriah was stabbed several times before the house was set on fire with him inside.[4]

Interestingly Jamaica is a signatory to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (1948) which state that “all are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection by the law.”[5]  In this regard, the Jamaican government has failed to comply with their commitments to uphold fundamental human rights. Widespread torture, beating and unlawful killings of homosexuals by Citizens and the police in some cases persist.

During December 2011 electoral campaign, the current Prime Minister, Portia Simpson-Miller, stated that “no one should be discriminated against because of their sexual orientation”, and that the “government should provide protection” for LGBTI people.[6] Where is the Protection, madam Prime Minister?

A conscience vote on whether to repeal Jamaica’s Anti-gay laws (Buggery Law) is not a guaranteed promise or attempt to assure equal rights and protection for gays citizens. Your silence on this issue is callous and is a demonstration of how insignificant dyer issues gays and lesbians facing in Jamaica are to the government.

Recommendations to Jamaica’s PM
  1.  Publicly condemn mob attacks and the killing of persons suspected or known to be homosexual.  Call for tolerance and respect of homosexuals through your address to the nation and community base forums.
  2.  Draft and implement laws to protect and guarantee equal rights and protection for LGBT Jamaicans. For instance, include sexual orientation as a clause under the constitution as it relates to discrimination and repeal the Buggery law.
  3. Ensure that Anti-gay crimes committed against homosexuals are thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice by the justice system.
The Jamaican constitution (1962) explicitly outlined that, “the state has an obligation to promote universal respect for, and observation of human rights and freedoms for persons in Jamaica.”[7] It is time for Prime Minister Portia-Simpson Miller to do her job and ensure that all Jamaican citizens are treated equally and fairly under the law. End the human rights abuse of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.



Citations 



[3] Jamaica Anti-Homophobia Stand Protests Outside Of UN General Assembly In NYC http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/09/27/jamaica-antihomophobia-stand-protests_n_4003835.html?utm_hp_ref=gay-voices
[4]A Decade Of Hate And Homophobia In Jamaica: Country Conditions http://www.minority-insight.org/2013/08/a-decade-of-hate-and-homophobia-in.html
[5] The Universal Declaration on Human Rights http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20011001/news/news3.html

Monday, September 2, 2013

Homeless Gay Youth Set Ablaze in Sleep And Left to Burn: Jamaica (VIDEO)


Homeless Gay Youth - Eye witness
A homeless young gay man was set on fire then thrown into a gully to burn by six men while sleeping among other men near Musgrave mews off lady Musgrave road in an open lot in St Andrew, Kingston on January 24, 2013. In response to the incident, political representative, Kari Douglas, councilor for the area from the People's National Party (PNP) led by the Prime Minister of Jamaica, called for the implementation of stern legislation to prosecute homeless gay men culpable of swatting.

According to CVM TV News Report, "common scenes of homeless homosexuals walking in clusters in the business district at nights. They have come under attack for their divergent sexual orientation, but on Wednesday night it was an attack of unusual nature. One of the men was allegedly attacked while sleeping in an abandon lot which have become a point of controversy over the last few months, over this time around the man was said to be set on fire by six men and then thrown into the nearby gully. The man was admitted in critical conditions."

An eye-witness (homeless member of gay community) mournfully uttered, “we were bawling for help, and no help. The police came and watched the guy in the gully burning, and all of us had to run for our lives. J-FLAG (Jamaica Forum for Lesbian, All-Sexuals and Gays) not helping us, nobody. They just have the little boy them. They have to leave their community to come on the road to survive because they (members from their communities) are burning them up and killing them in the ghetto, and it is the same thing here and the police not defending us."

video
CVM TV News Report (January 24, 2013 via GLBTQ Jamaica

Also, as far as the attempts at refuting and disregarding the eye witness account of the incident, the Police Officer theorized that the victim was attacked by members of his own group. “a member of the sexual diverse group was set ablaze by another member. There was a dispute involving the group and one member was set ablaze while he was sleeping," said SSP Fitz Bailey (Head- St Andrew Police Division).

As it relates to the alleged lewd public behavior and swatting habits of the homeless young gay men, Kari Douglas, Councilor for Trafalgar division in Kingston expressed that "they are very disruptive and this is the reason why persons tend to want to abuse them or disassociate themselves from them. So we should prosecute them as long as they are occupying lands that does belong to them."
Based on the eye witness account, the young homeless gay man was attacked because of his sexual orientation. He pleaded for help for many other homeless homosexuals who were hosted/ excommunicated from their homes and immediate community for being gay, now on the streets struggling to stay alive.

The common theory and motive for the killing and abuse of homosexuals often used by police investigators and from member of the Jamaican society is one in which all homosexual- victims perpetrators are of the same sexual orientation and the act tends to result from a gay domestic dispute. It is true that gay on gay crimes exist in Jamaica, but not to the extent where the erroneous narrative "gays are the ones killing gays in Jamaica" is being used to substantiate questionable killing of gays when circumstantial and empirical evidence suggests otherwise.

When heterosexuals are killed in Jamaica, the sexuality of their perpetrators is a non-issue. However, when an identified gay individual is killed, the entire country and police in all cases speculated, theorized and concluded that the perpetrator is also gay; "his lover killed him". These sentiments rings as facts throughout the entire populace, except for the victim's family and friends who strongly insisted that their love ones were attacked or murdered for being gay.

Unfortunately, the said theory "gay on gay crime" seemed to influence SSP Fitz Bailey (Police Officer) premature decision to conclude that the motive for this attack without proper probing and eye witness accounts.

While many are quick to vilify, demonize and prosecute the over flowing pockets of homeless gay men in Jamaica, especially in Kingston, even calling them "rowdy" according to J-FLAG, we must never forget Dwayne Jones,  who was murdered at the age of 16 on July 22, 2013. He was kicked out of his home and community at 14-years-old. As a homeless young man, Dwayne bears several scars and stab wounds from numerous anti-gay attacks. During an interview a few weeks before his death, he recounts his struggle for survival, while occupying an abandon government building. He was threaten and harassed my police officers.

Jamaica's gay on gay crime theory did not coincide with the brutal murder of Dwayne Jones, because when he was mobbed, stabbed, shot and beaten to death, his body was found in the bushes clothed in female clothes which suggested he was gay or a transgender woman. With that said, the police have yet to report that Dwayne Jones was murdered because of his gender identity or sexual orientation.

Instead of addressing the issue of homelessness of young gay children, the government solution is to prosecute them. This is not right! Forsaking and attacking our children because they are gay needs to stop. The government funded agencies, such as, The Children’s Registry and The Children’s Advocate needs to live u up to their mandate to protect and serve all Jamaican children regardless of their sex, gender identity and sexual orientation. It is time to act.

Homeless Gay youth leaving the scene of the attack on one of their members
  













Police response team/units 
















References: