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Kingston, Jamaica

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Anti-Homophobia Protest at Jamaica Consulate in New York City

Dwayne Brown & Randy Malcolm Standing up for Gay Rights at Jamaica Consulate in NYC

Stand Up! Against Homophobia in Jamaica 

On Monday, November 19, 2012, a group of LGBT Jamaican Activists and Allies held a peaceful protest in front of the Jamaican consulate in New York to condemn continued human rights abuses against LGBT Jamaicans.

This latest protest action was precipitated by a savage attack against a gay student at one of Jamaica’s state run universities, the University of Technology, Jamaica. A video of the attack has gone viral and shows 2 security guards taking turns slapping, kicking and punching the unarmed youngster while an angry mob of students hurled homophobic insults at the young man and demanded that he be released so they too could join in the “fun” of beating him.

Two of the four guards who were caught on tape during the attack have been dismissed and taken into police custody.  The other guards who stood by and did nothing remain employed to the security company contracted to provide security at the university. 

Since January 2011, the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) which is largest LGBT organization on the island recorded fifty-one incidents of attacks against LGBT including, home invasions, physical assaults and mob attacks.  In June 2012, members of the Jamaican LGBT community reported that eight gay men had been murdered in the prior three months.

During her December 2011 election campaign, Jamaica’s new Prime Minister, the Most Honorable Portia Simpson-Miller promised to call for a Parliamentary conscience vote to review the country’s 148 year old anti-sodomy law.  This law, imposed during the period of British colonization, imposes a 10 year prison sentence at hard-labor for even private acts of consensual adult same-sex intimacy.  The Prime Minister also said she would appoint an LGBT individual to her cabinet, breaking with the anti-gay stance of her predecessor, Bruce Golding who in 2008 that he would never allow gays to form part of his government.  Partly as a result of her courageous stance in this notoriously homophobic country, Mrs. Simpson-Miller was selected as one of TIME Magazine’s top 100 most influential persons for 2011, ahead of U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham-Clinton.  However, nearly a year after her promise, the Prime Minister has not taken steps to bring the issue of the law to the floor of Parliament.

Fundamentalist religious groups in Jamaica with strong ties to North American evangelical associations have strongly opposed a repeal of the law, claiming that it will open the door to marriage equality.  At the same time the website of the country’s Ministry of Health calls for a repeal of the law in order to aid the fight against HIV and AIDS. 

The Anti-Homophobia Stand goals are to highlight the anti-gay violence and inhumane treatment of LGBT persons in Jamaica; hold the Government of Jamaica accountable for failing to protect LGBT citizens from discrimination through policy legislations and crime fighting measures; and urge Jamaica's Prime Minister Portia Simpson to end the discrimination and inhumane treatment of LGBT Jamaicans.

It is time for the Government of Jamaica to protect and preserve the human rights of LGBT Jamaicans. We the people will continue to stand and speak out against homophobia until the civil rights of LGBT Jamaicans are protected.”

Sunday, November 4, 2012

University Beating: The Ever-Growing Problem of Homophobia and Hate in Jamaica

By: Dwayne Brown

The rights and dignity of young gay and lesbian students continue to be trampled in Jamaica. On November 1, 2012, a gay student was attacked by a mob of students and then beaten by Marksman security guards at the University of Technology (UTech). It was alleged that the victim and another young man, were caught expressing sexual gestures, and as a result, one of the accused was caught and beaten, while the other flee for his life.

The disheartening attack was captured on a students cell phone. The video revealed students storming, breaking windows and stoning the building where the victim was being held by security guards. The students chanted, “Kill the BattyMan/Gay”, “Beat him”, while at the same time, the victim received several punches, kicks and slaps by two enraged campus security guards, while another stood and watched.

Honestly, I was not surprised by the actions of the students and security guards. Far too often, one too many incidents where gay students were beaten and bullied, continue to be ignored by staff members. Many school administrators failed to reprimand the aggressors and implement proactive policies to protect the rights and safety of all students (Straight or Gay). A matter a fact, the constitutional stance on homosexuality encourages intolerance and homophobia to strive within the fabric of our society, and UTech is no exception.  

Based on my observations, UTech is not an institution of higher learning; it is an institution of vigilantism. In fact, it is a mini garrison, with thugs and gang members called students. Its mob culture and history of vigilantism speaks highly of the quality and decorum of the type students UTech pour into our broken society on an annually basis. For instance, in the year 2003, a young man, part of a gang breaking into cars at night on the grounds of the university was caught and killed by students; and in May 2011 an angry mob of students inflicted several wounds on a man who was allegedly caught attempting to steal a laptop computer from a dormitory.  These kinds of acts are reprehensible, and are reflective of the moral decay in the society.

Moreover, the promotion of homophobia is very profound in every institutional structure within Jamaica, which fosters intolerance towards the homosexual lifestyle. The promotion of intolerance is very subtle and distinct, for instance, the Minister of Education Rev. Ronald Thwaites in response to Jamaica’s Health and Family Life Curriculum which mentioned homosexuality as part of the human sexuality spectrum, he posits, “I wish to make it quite clear that in the rewrite of that particular aspect of it, however it came to be, we are not going to be promoting homosexuality in this country. We're just not going to do it." Minister Thwaites then suggested that “the homosexual lifestyle is inappropriate and schools will only promote healthy heterosexual relationship.” Sorry Rev. Thwaites, the function of our schools is not to promote and advance a particular sexual orientation inferior to another.

What does this kind of rhetoric from the head of our education system say to the thousands of gay and lesbian students in our school system? You are not welcome, is that it? “Someone like Rev. Thwaites who have raised more than one gay son, should promote nothing less than equality and tolerance in schools. Human sexuality should not be censored,” said a anonymous source, a science teacher at a local school in Kingston. I find this to be very disturbing.

The Minister of Education and the University of Technology have not yet condemned the violence and intolerance towards gay and lesbian students, because in retrospect such utterance would indicate the promotion of homosexuality to the wider society. Furthermore, the two television stations, CVMTV and Television Jamaica (TVJ) refused to air a paid advertisement promoting tolerance for homosexuals in Jamaica and are currently being sued by Maurice Tomlinson, an attorney-at-law.

According to Professor Ian Boxil 2012 study “persons 35 years old and under are more likely to be tolerant, accepting, supportive, admiring and appreciative of LGBT persons.” I strongly disagree with his assumption. I believe his findings were based on hypothetical interpretations and perceptions of Jamaica’s modernized society, rather than employing a wider range of methodologies and sampling methods, as well as adding the views of common Jamaicans’. Clearly, a vast majority of the students from UTech who were involved in the attack do not concede with the findings from Professor Boxil study.

The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) daily incident reports from victims of homophobia undermined the credibility of Boxil’s research. Since January 2011, J-FLAG reported that Fifty-one incidents, including mob attacks, physical abuse, home evictions, and discrimination were reported with forty-seven of these meted out to males, and in June 2012, members of the LGBT community have reported to J-FLAG that eight gay men have been murdered within the prior three months. This current incident at UTech unequivocally indicates that tolerance is a mere myth for many gay Jamaicans’.

Therefore, Jamaican leaders’ futile attempt to implement reforms or lack thereof to curve the violence towards homosexuals is a serious concern shared by the United Nations. The government should be held accountable for failing to protect the fundamental human rights of gay and lesbian Jamaicans. However, while many may condemn the attack shown in the video, more intervention remains to be done. A few concerned parents questioned why university students, who should be the most educated students and the next generation of leaders, are perpetuating "acts of barbarism". Jamaicans’ attitude towards  homosexuals need to be changed.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Professor Claude Montgomery Packer: Tyranny at The Mico University College

Professor Claude Montgomery Packer: Tyranny at The Mico University College

By Dwayne Brown

Many are appalled at the lack of moral integrity, the act of cronyism and nepotism, as well as despotism demonstrated by Professor Packer, the president of the Mico University College in Kingston. In spite of, the institution's vision to make the university college one of many choices in the Caribbean for persons pursuing degrees in Teacher Education, the president has abused work ethics and has carried out atrocities that are in violation of the labor laws set out to run all public Education organizations in Jamaica.

An administrative staff member who worked at the institution for several years, wish not to be identified by name, said, “my job security has been threaten, because of my utterly vocal opposition to the president’s colonial method of divide and rule style of leadership to this day.” A big problem in Jamaica’s work force is that there are no job opportunities for young professionals and college graduates, because retired workers are holding those job positions hostage and the practice of despotism forces many out of a job.

For instance, the president only employ retirees from other institution who are loyal and will support his decision be it good or bad, in fact, he himself is a retiree (74 years of age). This is a public institution and not a private one. Anyone who challenges the president, his/her tenure will be terminated, be it lecturer, support staff or administrative staff.

During my investigation, I have learned that on several occasions the excessive abuse of power by the president has resulted in staff members being unduly fired, and lives being threaten. For example, in May 2011, the former Director of Communication & Marketing  Miss Totlyn Oliver, who has contributed immensely to the institution and overall education system was inhumanely escorted from the campus by security, based on false allegations.

Similarly, in November 2010, Nurse Owen,  was relieved of her job no more than twenty four hours after she was attacked at home. She was robbed, gun butted, and subsequently hospitalized after the attack. Her termination letter was delivered by the president's personal security. It was believed that, the nurse discovered serious and questionable discrepancies in monitory engagement of the University by the president which raised several questions and alarms. Hence, her services were no longer needed.

Additionally, in August 2010, Mr. and Mrs. Barette were lecturers (married couple) who served the institution with integrity. One in history and Social Studies, and the other in Library Education department.  Their jobs were terminated against the background that both have abandon their jobs. The actual reason for terminating their jobs was based on the premise of constant challenges posed by Mr. Barette to the president tyranny which he pointed out in several staff meetings. These challenges were not taken lightly by the president. However, at the same time, the practice of nepotism was rife within the institution. For example, the president's daughter and son-in-law were employed at the institution, as well as both individuals were never interviewed for the positions that was never advertised in the first place.

According to the Ministry of Education, there should be transparency in the operation of all public education institutions, questions must be asked and answers given. How can one individual be made to run a public government institution with such subjectivity? Is this individual autonomous? Doesn't he answers to a board or to the Ministry of Education? This is an institution with a vision & mission to serve Jamaica, but if placed under serious scrutiny would be found wanting.

Furthermore, Professor Packer's mismanagement of The Mico University College affairs were highlighted when NewsTalk in late September 2012 reported “Decision by Principal and Board of Mico University College to terminate employment of lecturer to go before Judicial Review.” The lecturer, Mr. Alvin Lawson, was unjustly terminated in August 2011, due to a  failure in communication between the Ministry of Education and the College Board to retain his job. The Judicial Review, is an actual lawsuit  filed against Professor Packer and the Board by Mr. Lawson. 

For an institution that has been contributing to at least 65% or more of the teaching fraternity each year, to be mired in all of these discrepancies and ethical violation, will it not have a negative impact on those who are being prepared to go out and contribute to the education system? 
I must ask against the background of all these issues that the Ministry of Education begin an investigation into learning institutions that are given public funds to contribute to nation building, however, have used government funds selfishly and for personal gains.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Emprezz “Talk Up Yout” TV Show is Irresponsible and Reckless

After reviewing  and analyzing the content of Television Jamaica new TV show called “Talk Up Yout”  hosted by Emprezz on January 31, 2012, I found the topic (Transactional Sex) to be misleading, as well as the underlining  tone of the conversation continues to re-enforced the stereotype  that all homosexuals are harmful predators, contagions and pedophiles.  

A matter a fact, using an emotionally battered, abused and confused ‘Ex-gay’ young man as a guest on her show was utterly irresponsible, and extremely narcissistic.

Child abuse in Jamaica is alarming. According to a gleaner report on November 5, 2011, Mr. Grieg Smith the Executive Director at the Office of the Children Registry (OCR) stated that “ more than 20,000 cases of  child abuse that the office has received since 2007, close to 6,000 occurred since the start of the year 2011. Also women are the main perpetrators.” Pedophilia is one form of child abuse, carried out by adults, especially those who are close to us, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. This callous and anus act on the lives of our children should be reported and the perpetrators be punished under the full force of the law.

Kevin (Enprezz guest) was a victim of Pedophilia and an Ex-Transactional Sex Worker. In helping this young man to overcome his past atrocities, coming out on local Jamaican TV was considered to be a automatic death sentence or perhaps a suicidal attempt by concerned citizens. Just recently, Jamaica’s prominent Gay Rights Activist Maurice Tomlinson fled Jamaica due to receiving several death threats. Sadly, even members from the police force advice him to leave the country to preserve his life. Now! Will Emprezz and TVJ going to protect the life of Kevin a non-gender conformed, effeminate ‘Ex-gay’ young man from being attacked and killed in Jamaica? Regrettably, if any harm comes to this young man for coming out on this TV show, TVJ and Emprezz should be held accountable for endangering the young man life.

Therefore, instead of demonizing and portraying homosexuals as pedophiles, which will only inflame intolerance and the promotion of homophobic attacks on gays within our society, the host Emprezz could have dealt with the interview more impartially, sensibly and responsibly. She should have taken measures to conceal the young man identity, while he shares his story. His life will never be the same. Child abuse is everybody business in Jamaica, so let us stem this cultural epidemic and stop the demonizing pronouncements

Monday, January 9, 2012

BIGOTS Will Not See The Face of GOD

The policing and persecution of Sexual Acts between consenting adults by Bishop Wesley Blair is totally absurd.  For the purpose of knowledge and clarity, I want the uneducated and misinformed people in Jamaica to note that homosexuality is not illegal in Jamaica, the act of anal sex (Buggery Act) is.

Failing to accept and endorse one’s sexual orientation and gender identity by the masses, does not make it lawfully illegal. However, in the Jamaican society, the customary resentment, persecution and the imprisonment of gays caught in compromising positions, makes homosexuality culturally illegal, which is one of those unwritten laws enforced by the people. Rosario (2002) defines homosexuality as the “sexual attraction to or sexual relations with members of the same sex.”  Additionally, Dixson (2010) highlighted that the so-called abnormal/unnatural tendency of “homosexuality is also displayed within the animal kingdom.” Clearly, homosexuality is not unique to humans.

On the other hand, the act of buggery defined as “anal intercourse between a man and another man, a woman, or an animal,” (The Offences against the persons Act, 1864), which evidently affects heterosexuals who engage in anal sex intercourse. Hence, in a civilized and democratic country, why is it prudent to have laws which prohibit sexual acts? And why is it an ordained mission by God to ensure that Jamaicans’ are imprisoned up to ten (10) years for practicing anal sex? Thus, the Buggery Act is inhumane, unconstitutional and it violates the fundamental human rights of our people.

Furthermore, I have logically drawn the conclusion that Christianity and Bigotry is the NEW form of Nazism. Years ago, Jews and homosexuals were killed and put into gas chambers by Nazis. Presently, in the 21th Century, church leaders such as Bishop Wesley A. Blair, Rev. Al Miller, and Bishop Herro Blair are viewed as Christian Nazis.  In a Gleaner article Wesley A Blair protested his hatred for homosexuals by suggesting that “gays should be beaten in the square of Half Way Tree in Kingston,” (Henry, 2007). Moreover, he recently urged the Prime Minister “not to BOW to gays.”

Reverent Al Miller quoted in an Observer news article cautioned Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller by suggesting “If we remove the buggery law, then we might be opening the floodgate for sexual anarchy and allowing gay Jamaicans to serve in her cabinet would be a moral depletion;” and also Bishop Herro Blair during the 2011 election pronounced that “we have to stop it in its bud, you are going to have to kill it in its bud.”

Therefore, the Nazi mentality and utterance of death and condemnation towards homosexuals is unbecoming of a Christian. A lot of Christians and bigots will never see God's face. Christianity has become a chronic narcissistic religion. 'Nazi Christians' and Bigots have forgotten what it means to show love and compassion. They show no empathy for the anomaly and for those whom they considered to be abnormal. Yet still, it is believed that they will go to heaven for being a heterosexual (a so-called prerequisite) and a homophobe.