Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Bahamas: Chief Justice predicts that equal marriage will be addressed in court soon

The Bahamian Chief Justice has said that he believes that courts will address the issue of equal marriage soon in the country.

In an optimistic address, Sir Michael Barnett predicted that the issue would come to the courts in the Bahamas, and said that he would be looking to other countries for reference when considering the issue.

“I have no doubt that it is only a matter of time when the courts of The Bahamas will address the issue of same sex marriage,” he said on Friday

“I also have no doubt that in deciding the issue we will have respect for the decisions that emanate not only from the Commonwealth countries like Canada and Australia, but also from decisions of the courts of the Unites States of America.

“But our references to the views of justices of the United States are not limited to referring to those decisions in our own judgments.”

He went on to say that similarities with the US due to its close proximity to the Bahamas would play a role in how possible legislation would take shape.

“Based on its proximity to the United States, commerce, trade and tourism link our respective economies,” he said.

“More and more citizens of both our countries are finding it necessary to resort to the courts of our countries to resolve the disputes that inevitably arise.

“Ours is an ever shrinking global village. The problems that affect the lives of our citizens and the residents of our respective countries have more in common than there are differences.

“Our respective countries both have written constitutions that protect our human rights. Our citizens and visitors look to us, the justices of court, to protect these rights. Little justice is served by reinventing the wheel.

“Our task as justices is helped by looking to our colleagues of different countries to see how they have considered and dealt with the problems.”

He went on to say that the internet made it easier to research similar cases around the globe.

Two weeks ago in the Bahamas, Anglican Bishop Laish Boyd recommended that the constitution be amended to rule out the possibility of discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Boyd presented his recommendations to the Constitutional Commission on 1 February, and did go on to say, however, that he did not support equal marriage.

While civil unions and equal marriage both remain illegal in the country, some same-sex Bahamian couples have travelled abroad to marry.

The Bahamian Chief Justice said that he thought equal marriage would be addressed in court soon

European and German high courts rule same-sex couples are regular parents

Today two high courts in Europe ruled in favour of same-sex couples adopting children. Both judgments make clear that lesbian and gay couples provide children the same safety and stability as heterosexual couples do.


In the first decision, the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rightsconsidered the case X and others v. Austria. The court deemed that

the Austrian Government had not provided any evidence to show that it would be detrimental to a child to be brought up by a same-sex couple or to have two mothers and two fathers for legal purposes.

The court’s highest chamber ruled that since unmarried different-sex couples could adopt one another’s children under Austrian law, there was no valid reason to prohibit same-sex couples from adopting one another’s children.

In today’s second decision, Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court came to the same conclusion, decreeing that successive adoption ought to be open to same-sex couples under the same conditions as different-sex couples (although joint adoption remains unavailable).

Ulrike Lunacek MEP, Co-President of the LGBT Intergroup, commented: “These timely rulings confirm what we have known for decades: LGBT people already live in families and have children, and are equally good families in comparison with heterosexual couples. Our children are loved, and grow up in stable families.”

“They do, however, remain victims of society’s intolerance towards their parents. Today’s court cases will lead to a better life for families with lesbian and gay parents in Germany, Austria, and the rest of Europe.”

In recent days, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ had announced Turkish diplomats would be asked to retrieve Turkish children placed in same-sex families in European countries.

In reaction, Vice-President of the LGBT Intergroup Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP declared: “These rulings should help put Mr Bozdağ’s mind to rest: gay and lesbian families are just the same as any other families.”

“Same-sex couples have been legal parents for the past 12 years in the Netherlands, and of course in twelve years there has been no conclusive evidence that this harmed children in any way. I hope more EU countries will now follow suit.”


Germany's highest court has extended gay adoption laws to bring them in line with rules that apply to heterosexual couples. Judges ruled that existing laws were discriminatory.

The Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe overturned a ban on Tuesday on so-called "successive adoptions" for gay couples in civil partnerships.

Under the ruling, if one partner has adopted a child, the other partner now has the right to become the adoptive mother or father of that child as well. Until now, they could only adopt their partner's biological child.

This aspect of adoption law had previously only applied to heterosexual couples; a distinction which the Karlsruhe court said went against Germany's basic law and was therefore unconstitutional.

It ruled that same-sex couples could provide for a child as well as couples in a traditional marriage.

"In marriage as in a civil partnership, adoption provides the child with legal security and material advantages in terms of care, support and inheritance law," presiding judge Ferdinand Kirchof told the court.

The ruling followed a legal challenge from a woman who was forbidden from adopting a Bulgarian-born child whom her female partner had adopted.

Tuesday's decision does not alter legislation, however, which forbids same-sex couples jointly adopting a child. They may still only adopt the same child on an individual basis.

Germany legalized civil partnerships in 2001, but in spite of recent rulings in Britain and France, has not yet moved to allow same-sex marriage.

ccp/kms (dp
a, AFPD)

Monday, February 11, 2013

The difficult task of separating drag culture from transgender identity .......

A long standing tense relationship between transgender activists and some popular cross dressing or drag queen icons continue and with an egregious error made recently by a JFLAG representative at a symposium on identity where they lumped transgender individuals as drag queens, the invisibility issue with local transgender persons has been an issue for me as LGBT is conveniently used as the call letters for the struggle but the actual inclusion is far from happening just yet in all the years of pressing on-wards.

I thought it appropriate to post this entry from leading African American trans blogger Monica Roberts, where she wrote:

Trans Womanhood does not equal drag

TransGriot Note: My guest post that is up at the NBJC blog commenting on Monica Beverly Hillz's recent trans coming out announcement

With Monica Beverly Hillz coming out as trans onRuPaul's Drag Race on February 4, it was seen as a good news, bad news moment by much of the trans community.

While we celebrate our trans sister taking such a huge step in her life, the irony of the moment wasn't lost on many of us in the trans community.

She was coming out as trans on a show in which its creator has a contentious relationship with the trans community, and has repeatedly uttered problematic transphobic comments..

The trans community also has a love-hate relationship with the drag community as well for the rampant transphobia and misogny in elements of that world.

That's why many of us in the trans community (myself included) refuse to watch or support Drag Race. But I also realize there are enough people who do regularly tune in to the show to where it has now survived on LOGO for five seasons.

So taking it into account Drag Race has a large viewership who could use a little Trans 101 education, it's time for the trans community and our allies to take this opportunity Monica's coming out presents us to put a major dent into the long held myth that drag queens and trans women are exactly the same and far too often conflate the two..

So lets start with the major difference between an trans woman and a drag queen.

A trans woman is someone born in a masculine body at birth with a feminine gender identity and expression that lives full time in the feminine gender role. They may seek gender realignment surgery, counseling, hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and other medical procedures to facilitate the process.

That is light years difference from a drag artist who generally loves everything about being in the masculine gender role, blanches at the thought of genital realignment surgery and have no desire to present as female except on stage.

There are and have long been trans women like Monica who perform in the drag world for various reasons. Some do so because they simply enjoy the experience of being on stage and the confidence boost it provides. Some do so because it's a job that helps them earn the money to pay for their hormones, other medical procedures to perfect their feminine presentation and eventually get to the point where they can have genital surgery.

Trans women who are on that drag stage when the performance is over wipe the excess stage makeup off their faces, hang up the beaded gowns and gaudy costumes and head outside the club in their regular clothes and stripped down makeup to live their everyday feminine lives in a world that is indifferent and in many cases hostile to them. And far too often some of that hostility directed at trans women comes from people in the same gender loving (SGL) and cis communities. It also manifests itself in terms of discrimination and off the charts levels of violence and death aimed at us. 

image not included in original article

It has long been an irritant to African-American trans women that cis people will easily let the 'she' pronoun slide off their lips for a RuPaul, Madea or any assorted drag queen but can't bring themselves to do the same for a transwoman in their midst who is living her everyday life in the female gender role.

Trans woman does not equal drag queen. It's past time for people to get that fundamental point and give trans women the love, respect and codified human rights as members of the community they deserve.

University of Technology launches Tolerance project post gay student abuse

UTECH launches tolerance and respect project for students and staff (TVJ video above)

Go HERE for the original post on Gay Jamaica Watch on that matter and the related video

A sensitization project  on respect and tolerance was this morning launched  at the University of Technology (UTECH).  The project "Promotion of Respect, Tolerance and Diversity" was developed in response to the November 2012 assault of one of the university's students who was accused of being a homosexual. Partly funded by the European Union, the sensitization efforts which will be undertaken throughout 2013 will address issues related to respect and tolerance particularly as it affects the rights of 
minority groups such Lesbians, Gays, Bi-Sexual and Transgender (LGBT).  

The respect and tolerance project though mainly focused on students and staff at the University is also intended to reach the wider society. It will feature sensitization sessions at each of the University's six locations, public forums, a qualitative research and national survey, essay competition among all tertiary students across the island, debates organized by the Students' Union and the purchase of CDs and print materials to be used throughout the project. The University has also committed to modifying its curriculum for the academic year 2013-2014 to address issues of respect, tolerance and diversity. 

Addressing the launch, President of UTECH Professor Errol Morrison pointed out that following the well publicized incident several measures have already been put in place and that the project comes as a well needed support to ensuring that change. "Despite some of the negative publicity which occurred some three months back we are only so happy that we are now moving on to a new threshold…We are not only attempting to reach out to the University community to create that better understanding and appreciation of difference but to reach out to the  wider society trying to engender that softer accommodating society." 

Ambassador Paola Amadei, Head of the Delegation of the European Union to Jamaica commended the efforts of the leadership and administration of the University to undertake such a programme adding that only when all Jamaicans are guaranteed equal rights and freedom will it unlock its true potential.  

"Discrimination based on sexual orientation will be a specific focus in this project, as individuals still face significant obstacles to full participation in public life, hindering their ability to work, study and integrate in society without discrimination and exclusion. The great diversity of the Jamaican population is aptly represented in its motto "out of many one people". To live up to this motto members of society who are considered "different", should not be  discriminated against and to the contrary should be able to exercise the full gamut of their rights in society. "

Contact- Jodi Brown-Lindo 
Delegation of the European Union to Jamaica,  
Belize, Turks and Caicos Islands, Bahamas and the Cayman Islands 
Tel: 1 876 924 6333 

As part of its Respect and Tolerance Initiative, the University of Technology (UTech) has developed a special course targeting security companies.

Michael Steele, head of the Joan Duncan School of Entrepreneurship, Ethics and Leadership, said the course would focus on conflict resolution, values and ethics, customer service and human rights.

The course and wider initiative are a response to an incident at the campus last November where a student, accused of being gay, was allegedly beaten by two security guards after he took refuge in the guard post after being chased by students.

Two of the security guards involved are currently before the courts on various charges.

"Coming out of the incident, there were various calls for action against the security company. Some people thought we should fire the company right away," said Steele.

"We felt, as an institution, that we should take the higher road, and we should try and inculcate a certain level of tolerance by training," he added.

open to all security companies

A separate set of courses addressing issues of tolerance, respect and diversity will be inserted in the curriculum for the 2013-2014 academic year.

"We put everything in a series of short courses and have it open to all security companies," said Steele. He noted the university had started marketing the course and had sent its proposal to over 30 security companies across the island.

"We have got one or two responses but we are more or less waiting on the full response before we start the course," he said.

Steele said of the few to respond, their attitude was favourable but they were worried about the cost.

"It's a short course, so the cost is not that high but any additional cost is going to be, for some companies, a cause of concern."

He suggested companies look at the returns of investing in the training rather than just at the cost. He said the course would be available at all UTech campuses.

The Respect and Tolerance Initiative is funded by the European Union at a total cost of €9,950 or J$1.21 million.

Professor Rosalea Hamilton, UTech's vice-president of Development and Community Services, led the discussion among staff and students to form the initiative.

Hamilton noted various viewpoints were gathered from the informal sessions on the November incident, and about similar events across Jamaica. She felt participants had a better understanding of their differences and learned how to respond to some of the complex issues arising from the incidents.

Hamilton warned that not everyone will change their point of view and we would have a renewed look at what 'one love' and 'nuff respect' really mean.

"As we expand the limits of these phrases, we believe that enough of us will conclude (like Marcus Garvey) that we are all children of one God, one aim, one destiny. One love."
meanwhile feedback came from some students via a report on Radio Jamaica, RJR's newscast recently:

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Discrimination Stance Creates Split, Dancehall Promoters' New Rules Not Welcomed By All

Davina Henry, Staff Reporter of the Gleaner wrote on Sunday last the article below, trouble is the supposed clauses are not really new as is reported in the piece but were not really enforced until recent times as pressure has been brought to bear on artists as promoters follow suit from their international counterparts. Have a read of the article below:

While some artistes have come under fire for openly discriminating against certain groups, promoters are now joining the cause through formal agreements. GT Taylor is one of those promoters to have taken a stance against intolerance.

GT Taylor

"The world has changed. Live your life and let others live their lives. Entertainment is for the general public, so I don't think artistes should be on stage and be inciting violence against other groups. I don't think they should bash groups for their way of life. I put in the contracts that discrimination and indecent language are banned," Taylor told The Sunday Gleaner.

When prompted as to what punishment would be meted out to artistes who did not adhere to the contract, Taylor stated that the police would step in from there.

But Dexton Ennis, the promoter of the popular Follow the Arrow event, has put in place more stringent measures to dissuade artistes from discriminating.

"I am banning discrimination against any group, sect, or race at my event. Dancehall is already getting a beating and Corporate Jamaica is already pulling sponsorships from our shows," he said.

He further added that although corporate sponsorship was just one of the reasons he had taken this stance, he also had a responsibility to all his patrons.

"Bashing over the years has not changed anything! I have stipulated in my contracts that I will not tolerate indecent language or discrimination. Any artiste who breaches this contract will not be getting the remaining 50 per cent of their balance! It will instead be donated to the St Mary Infirmary," Ennis said.


But while promoters are clamping down, some artistes are not welcoming the change.

According to I-Wayne, he has always been one to "bun out" discrimination, but at the same time, he cannot condone some things.

"We haffi burn wrongs. What is right is right, and what is wrong is wrong."

He added that if approached by a promoter to do an event with a contract that stipulated no discrimination, he would still perform at the show.

"I would do the show, but we burn filthiness same way. It all depends on how you deal with it. Discrimination is wrong, but if a man a burn out wrong, den dat is fi him ting," I Wayne said.

Ninja Man was much more vocal in his stance to decline shows banning discrimination.

"What they call discrimination a wha some people call the truth. Jamaica has gone to a stage where people a call dem self demon, gays a walk up and dung inna New Kingston, and people a cut off baby head. A nuh dat we come from. A nuh our culture dat. Mi nuh know wha di country gone to.

"No promoter cyaah sign contract wid me bout dat. Nobody cyaah stop me from bun destruction. Don't try stop people when dem a talk the truth. Stop force the artistes over the edge. Mi a one artiste whe a talk di truth, and who nuh like it can come defend it," Ninja Man told The Sunday Gleaner.

But while some artistes are not pleased with the new stance, Dane Lewis, executive director of J-FLAG, sees the move as positive.

"We know the influence music has on shaping society. This comes across as a very responsible and positive move by promoters. I am happy that they have taken a stance that will promote love, tolerance, and respect for equality," Lewis said.

I-Wayne in the meantime has been consistent with his so called "bun out" stance I last reported on his release via this blog called "Bun Out Sodom which was an album track from his Lfe teachings CD.

The track sought to hit out at gay adoption, likening gay men to paedophiles and presenting a strong anti-homosexual stance overall.

Excerpts from the lyrics are clear what this song is about of course when one sees the words "Burn" and "Sodom" or "Fire" in the same sentence be they in song, written or the spoken word then look out there is bound to be trouble for same gender loving people. Lyrics on top/Translation immediately below.

Dem a drop dem fadda back, people good good pickney dem adopt
They are erasing their bloodline, not having own children but instead adopting other children (hinting at homosexualiisng children)

Baybylon you wrong you wrong you can't live long then
Babylon you're wrong you cant live long then (suggesting finality for gays)

Wicked promote the freaky girls and nasty man dem
The wicked are promoting freaky girls (lesbians) and nasty men (gays)

But righteous youths risen and hang them
But righteous youths rise up and hang them (risen is used instead of the present tense "rise in the rasta lexicon)

Burn out Sodom, I nuh cater wid dem wicked and dem nasty behaviour
Burn out Sodom I don't cater with their wicked and nasty behaviour

No slackness I nuh inna, forward I-press Itrina pon life scene yah
No slackness/lewdness I am not into, come in empress (rastafarian name for a woman or wife) Itrina on this life scene here

Burn down Sodom we a keep dem straight yah bugger dem caan escape yah
Burn down Sodom we're keeping it straight yes the buggers can't escape yeah

Peace and tolerance

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