Friday, March 22, 2013

South Korean Court Rules Trans People Can Change Gender Markers Without SRS

Some positive news on the international trans human rights front coming out of South Korea.

On March 15 the Seoul Western District Court ruled in a case brought by five trans masculine individuals that trans individuals could change their legal gender status without undergoing genital surgery

With court ruling, surgery to alter genitals is no longer necessary to change one’s legal gender status By Um Ji-won, Park Hyun-jung, staff reporters of hankyoreh 

A court ruled on Mar. 15 that transgender individuals can change their legal gender status without undergoing genital surgery.

Seoul Western District Court ruled in favor of accepting requests from five female-to-male transgender individuals to have their family register listing altered to be classified as male. None of the five has undergone operations to surgically alter their sex organs.

The five filed their request in December, arguing that the demand for surgery to conform to the changed gender status constituted the main barrier to approvals and violated the spirit of the legal gender modification system, which is to guarantee the Constitutional rights of transgender people.

One of the five, identified by the initial "K," was born with a female body, but started identifying as male when he was a teenager. In the 1990s, he underwent surgery to remove his breasts and uterus and began taking male hormones, leaving him with a thick beard, deep voice, and stocky build. He has lived with his wife for the past two decades, but he has not gone through the final step of the sex change, namely surgery on his genitals. Not only is the procedure dangerous, with a high risk that it will require multiple operations, but it also costs the equivalent of tens of thousands of dollars.

K looks like a regular male, but his resident registration number begins with a "2," which indicates legal female status (male registration numbers start with 1). He cannot go to work at companies that demand a career history with a resident number, so he does deliveries and other temporary jobs. When he has gone to hospitals and government offices in the past, the employees there have looked at his ID and said, "This can't be you." Going to vote is out of the question. He and his wife have not filed a marriage notice.

K and others like him ended up left out in the cold even after the Supreme Court rule in 2006 that transgender people could alter their legal gender status. According to guidelines for approval the Court drafted the following year, individuals have to possess "external genitalia of the opposite sex" from their biological one.

According to the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Legal Research Association, an organization of attorneys and activists for the human rights of sexual minorities, no country but Japan is known to require genital surgery as a condition for altering one's legal gender status. Countries like Great Britain, Germany, Spain, and Argentina do not even require surgery to remove reproductive capabilities. The US federal government does not demand any operations at all for gender status changes on passports and immigration documents.

Last January, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health sent an opinion to Seoul Western District Court arguing that genital surgery should not be a requirement because it is not medically necessary and is a difficult procedure with a strong risk of side effects and other negative consequences.

On hearing the news that the request was granted, an excited K said it was "almost revolutionary for members of sexual minorities like us."

"Once I've altered the gender on my family registration, the first thing I'm going to do is announce mine and my wife's marriage," he added.

Han Ga-ram, an attorney with Korean Lawyers for Public Interest and Human Rights, which represented K and the other transgender individuals, said that with no Supreme Court rulings or laws existing to reflect the latest decision, calls for changes to the law were likely to intensify.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

The European Parliament wants to outlaw homophobic crime and speech in the EU

Today the European Parliament adopted a non-binding resolution on strengthening the fight against racism, xenophobia and hate crime

The text calls on the European Commission to add homophobia and transphobia to the list of EU-sanctioned hate speech and violence.

Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of Justice, discussing the resolution

Since a 2008 Framework Decision, the European Union foresees specific, higher penalties for racist and xenophobic speech and crime. These measures are now in force in all 27 Member States and Croatia, due to join the EU on 1st July this year.

The European Parliament has today repeated previous calls to include homophobia and transphobia in the list of grounds covered by the next version of the 2008 Framework Decision, due for review this year.

Today’s resolution was exceptionally authored by all six main political groups, who agreed that ”expressions and acts of anti-Semitism, religious intolerance, anti‑Gypsyism, homophobia and transphobia” should be punished by EU law, something the Parliament had already asked for.

The final text also calls on the Council to unblock the anti-discrimination Directive, blocked by Germany and conservative Member States for the past five years.

RaĆ¼l Romeva i Rueda MEP, Vice-President of the European Parliament’s LGBT Intergroup, commented: “Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people face the same type of threats, violence and crimes across the EU. Racist and xenophobic crimes deserve specific punishment, and so do homophobic and transphobic ones: they target an entire group, rather than individuals.”

Sophie in ‘t Veld MEP, also Vice-President of the LGBT Intergroup, added: “Together with the Commission, we’re waiting for the results of the largest-ever survey on LGBT people’s lives in the EU and Croatia. Once these results are published, it will be up to Viviane Reding to translate them into effective change across EU policies.”

“I’m expecting the survey’s 93,000 respondents will have underlined how much hate they face, encouraged in some countries by political and religious leaders.”

The Fundamental Rights Agency will publish the results of its LGBT survey on 17th May, the International Day Against Homophobia.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Should prisoners have conjugal visits?

Continuing a conversation I was in on Facebook with persons about a Star News story a couple days ago I am still on the fence with this issue on one hand it would be ideal for the sake of lessening the rage in our culture of violence but given a recent story that female warders are also allegedly granting sexual favours to selected members of the male prison populations albeit conjugal visits are not only for sexual contact but also enhancing family life and personal contact.

Chad Bryan, STAR Writer penned this story below given the recent controversy with a man who reported got a woman pregnant while allegedly in custody but it has turned out that the time that the supposed intimate contacts were to have occurred he was not incarcerated.

Prisoners should be allowed to have conjugal visits or, by extension, have sex with their spouse, noted attorney Dr Paul Ashley believes.

It is a view shared by head of the Department of Correctional Services Lieutenant Colonel Sean Prendergast.

Ashley posited that there is a well-known fact that homosexual men in some penal institutions are separated from heterosexual males.

"Implicit in this is that sex takes place among homosexuals in prison. My view, therefore, is that there should be conjugal visits with specific guidelines," he said. "One is presumed to be innocent not celibate, and if you are clothed in the presumption that you are innocent awaiting trial, why should you be denied sex since you are innocent until proven guilty?"

Ashley also added, "enforced celibacy is not a part of one's punishment. Even if it was, what are you then saying to homosexuals in prison who are given condoms?"

Prendergast explained that, as it stands, a conjugal visit for the purpose of sex is not allowed, but he would welcome the idea.

"Currently, the policy is that it is not allowed. My personal view is that I would like to see the day that it can be allowed. I would use it as a tool of control just like family visit. If we allowed conjugal visit, we would have well-behaving inmates. At current, the department does not have the facilities for that," he said.

Corporate Area pastors Reverend Peter Garth and Bishop Rowan Edwards dismissed the idea of allowing prisoners the right to sex while incarcerated.

"I am not certain that that should happen. It is a part of the punishment and, as such, should not happen," Garth said.

Echoing Garth's sentiments, Edwards said, "no, totally wrong. If they have violated the law, that's a part of their freedom they have given up. I'm not in agreement with that."

However, Pastor Carla Dunbar advanced another opinion.

"I would not have a problem with it, because of the reality in our society. That can be used to influence behaviour. If they are going to be there for a long period of time, that can be allowed once per month," she said.


however the homosexual contact or behavioural bisexuality in prisons is of concern and the present ban on condoms listed as contraband thought they do find their way in via various means and men have been found to be HIV positive after entering the prison system which begs the question what is really going on behind closed bars in this case?

For the sake of bisexuals I would imagine sexual contact with the opposite sex may help relieve sexual tension (my unqualified opinion) but as for same sex urges maybe the system if ever getting to forward thinking consenting adults could be allowed time together with condoms supplied but the correctional services may never let this happen and we would never hear the end of it.

In an older post from sister blog Gay Jamaica Watch on Male Rape I hinted to the then correctional figureheads and their unease with the suggestion of male rape in prison. There was a story in 2011 also that spoke to molestation in a bathroom of a male prisoner by other prisoners, see HERE there was a short documentary on the issue of male rape as well but the issue has since died down somewhat.

In 1997, Lieutenant Colonel John Prescod(left in photo), then Commissioner of Corrections, suggested that condoms be distributed in the prisons as a means of stopping the spread of HIV. The suggestion sparked a riot that claimed the lives of 16 prisoners, some of whom were accused of being homosexuals and as it turns out many who died weren't actually gay but prior rivalry and a golden opportunity for a disturbance led the way to the attacks. The National AIDS Committee had recommended again in 2000 to the then Peoples National Party administration launch Mandatory medical examinations for all inmates, segregation of HIV positive inmates, legal conjugal visits, a health education programme for the prison, and permission for terminally ill patients to be allowed to die at home, were also among the recommendations made to the Government which were ignored.

Dr. Raymoth Notice (right in photo above) medical expert then in the penal system had said at the time, "...We recognize that the incidence of HIV is increasing in the general population and not only that, studies have shown that the incidence of AIDS in prison is six to 10 times greater in prisons than in the general population," also he continued "the level of homophobia and ignorance as well as the lack of resources have hampered the education process a whole lot. Before we even get to the condom issue it is important first and foremost to educate the population about AIDS. But everyone has been too afraid to do anything since the riots. There is no analysis being done, no reliable data, inmates are leaving with the disease and taking it back to their communities."

Lambert Brown, the UAWU's the then first vice-president, had said that although he was still opposed to condom distribution in prisons, he had nothing against the other recommendations made.

"The fight against AIDS is not based solely on condom distribution," Mr. Brown said. "Those who are promoting condoms in prison are using the back door to promote homosexuality which is illegal." here suggesting fear.

see the 1996 documentary here:

The prison wife phenomenon, multiple partner and the religious issues are looked at in the clip.

Peace and tolerance


Monday, March 11, 2013

Vatican embarrassed as €23 million property investment includes Europe’s biggest gay sauna

by Joseph Patrick McCormick of the Pink News wrote the following piece and I find it funny but given how much land the church also holds in Jamaica as was revealed in recent times since the call of churches to start paying property taxes one wonders why these holier than though institutions find themselves owning so much assets yet the poor need assistance. 

Makes us wonder what the church is really all about as an absolute monarchy?

The church bought a €23 million share of the apartment block housing the gay sauna, back in 2008

Following several recent scandals, it has now emerged that the Catholic church has bought a €23 million (£21 million) share of an apartment block in Rome which houses the biggest gay sauna in Europe.

Just a day ahead of the papal conclave to elect the next Pope, this latest development has caused embarrassment to senior Vatican figure Cardinal Ivan Dias, who stays in a 12-room apartment on the first floor of the building, just above the ground-floor entrance to the sauna.

The 76-year-old is due to take part in the election at the Sistine Chapel tomorrow, but has been left red-faced following the revelation that the entrance to his apartment is just yards from the entrance to Europe’s biggest gay sauna, Europa Multiclub.

As well as Dias, who is widely considered particularly conservative, there are 18 other apartments in the block, many of which house priests.

An Independent report questioned whether the former archbishop of Bombay may have offered spiritual guidance to attendees of the sauna, given that in the past he has said that gay and lesbian people can be “cured” of their “unnatural tendencies” through the “sacrament of penance”.

Since resigning on 28 February, Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica published an article claiming that Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to quit was in part finalised by a Vatican report showing that the Holy See was affected by outside influences, including a “gay lobby”.

La Repubblica newspaper has now noted that the presence of “Italy’s best known gay sauna in the premises [as] an embarrassment”.

In other embarrassment for the church, in a statement issued by the Catholic church in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O’Brien addressed allegations made against him by five priests within the church, and admitted that his “sexual conduct” has been “below the standards expected” of him.

The sauna’s website promotes a bear night, with a video in which a man strips down before changing into a priest’s outfit. It says Bruno, “a hairy, overweight pastor of souls, is free to the music of his clergyman, remaining in a thong, because he wants to expose body and soul”.

Readers on Italian gay websites made jokes at the cardinal’s expense. One person said: “’Oops, I took the wrong door, I thought it was the chapel.’…If you can’t go to the gay sauna for fear of being seen what do you do if you have millions of Euros stolen from Italians? You buy the apartment block with the sauna inside.”

The purchase of 2 Via Carduccio reportedly went through in 2008.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Another LGBT Group launches with a mature lesbian focus ...........................

Another LGBT entity has joined the growing number of groups in Jamaica taking on more on the ground or frontline issues we hope making the number of such groups to 7 in my last count.

Aphrodite's Pride another lesbian focused entity with emphasis on bisexuality as well also celebrated its first year on February 14th as founded by Laura Garcia, Sheronette Mercurious and yours truly with other volunteers. Now comes a fellow blogger turned out lesbian Angeline Jackson with her charge head on to the issues, I wish her and her team all the best in their resolve. Have a read of a recent interview with her

Angeline Jackson

Angeline Jackson is a lesbian activist in Jamaica, one of 76 countries around the world where being gay is illegal. Last summer, she attended the Spirit of 76 meeting in Washington, D.C., where she came away inspired to do more for the LGBT community back home.

Jackson returned to Jamaica and founded Quality of Citizenship Jamaica (QCJ), which “recognizes that the concept of citizenship cannot be subjected to personal biases.”

Angeline Jackson speaks with SDGLN Contributor the Rev. Canon Albert Ogle about LGBT rights in Jamaica, what life is like for LGBT Jamaicans, and her vision for Quality of Citizenship Jamaica. She represents the next generation of LGBT activists in countries where life is dangerous for sexual minorities.

Albert Ogle: What was it like for you growing up in Jamaica knowing that to come out as a lesbian would instantly make you a criminal?

Recently while speaking with some students from Boston College, it dawned on me just how growing up as a lesbian in Jamaica has affected me. Being a lesbian isn’t criminalized in Jamaica, but so many other things happen. A few years ago I was sexually assaulted at gunpoint, an event which several other women had experienced. All of us had one thing in common: We were all same-gender-loving women; though it was never stated by the police or the court that the crimes were motivated by our orientation, I as well as the other women have come to that conclusion.

When I was younger, I suffered many periods of depression and states of suicidal tendencies, which resulted mostly in the development of cutting habits. When it seems as though the whole world is against you, you’re not considered a full citizen, and your country indirectly affirms that you aren’t deserving of being called a Jamaican or living freely in your home country. It really is a damaging feeling especially with no one to talk to. Unfortunately I still suffer states of depression.

Albert Ogle: What are the differences and similarities for gay men, gay women and transgender Jamaicans?

Gay men face more direct and regular instances of abuse, be it physical or verbal. Gay men also face greater discrimination in terms of employment, health care and housing.

Lesbians and bisexual women also face levels of stigma and discrimination. However for women, though, we face potential physical abuses, we are oftentimes more likely victims of sexual abuse, and employment discrimination in the form of coerced sexual favors for advancement in the workplace. Though J-FLAG attempts to collect information on this population, the statistics are, in my opinion, woefully incomplete.

Transgender persons also face discrimination; unfortunately the transgender community in Jamaica is not very visible and as such it is difficult to understand theirs situations.

It should be noted that though Jamaica has an anti-sodomy law on the books, which directly affects gay men, that same law is used as the basis for discrimination against the entire LGBT population, and there is no law that protects specifically on the basis of sexual orientation.

Albert Ogle: You attended the Spirit of 76 meeting in Washington last summer. How did that event help you and reshape your work in the LGBT community?

Attending the various meetings in Washington, D.C. during the summer 2012 showed me that many people were around the world supporting and working to help those of us in countries where homosexuality is illegal or where same-sex sexual activity is prohibited -- this became a reality in my mind for the first time. My meetings motivated me to be more active and more vocal in my work here at home, and gave me different perspectives and new ideas. I particularly remember one meeting, where the term “quality of citizenship” was used in speaking about the way lesbian, bisexual, gay and transgender citizens of some countries are unworthy of being classified as full citizens.

Albert Ogle: Tell us about QCJ and what you hope it will grow into in the next five years?

The name Quality of Citizenship Jamaica (QCJ) came out of the meeting which I spoke about earlier. The idea for QCJ came out of the need for an organization which specifically works on issues surrounding lesbian, bisexual and other women who have sex with women. QCJ will primarily be a research and education organization with scope for further activity as it develops. QCJ recognizes citizenship as a legal status, defined by civil, political and social rights, and that by virtue of Chapter Two of the Jamaican Constitution, persons born in Jamaica and persons born outside Jamaica to Jamaican parents have an automatic right to Jamaican citizenship.

QCJ recognizes that the concept of citizenship cannot be subjected to personal biases; to blatantly deny a person or group of persons their citizenship would directly violate both international treaties and the Jamaican constitution. Though human rights is part of the concept of citizenship, it can be made subject to cultural biases as aptly illustrated in Jamaica by the Attorney General’s declaration that he has no intention of abiding by the Constitutional requirement to interpret human rights according to standards found in other free and democratic societies, stating that Human Rights will “not be interpreted by international human rights norms, but rather to use Jamaican situations to determine the extent of rights.” (“Human Rights, Sovereignty and the Politics of Truth,” Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship, Jamaica, World Human Rights Day Symposium, Dec. 10, 2011).

Quality of Citizenship Jamaica (QCJ) is committed to improving the lives of young and aging lesbian, bisexual (LB), and other women who have sex with women (WSW). QCJ is also dedicated to working with LGBT youth. We aim to do this particularly through research into health issues, matters on sexuality, sexual violence, and sexual and reproductive health issues among our constituents. QCJ is steadfast in helping to create a health system that is responsive to the needs of the LB, WSW and general female population in Jamaica.

Our constituents are lesbian, bisexual (LB) and WSW youth (16-29) and the aging lesbian population (QCJ’s working definition of aging is 40 and older).

In the next five years I see QCJ as being the go to organization on issues of LB and WSWs within Jamaica and the Caribbean. I see QCJ providing the well needed statistical data on matters that touch and concern our constituents, training young leaders who understand themselves and who want to make the world a better place during their lifetime.

Albert Ogle: What role can religion play for good in the Jamaican situation for LGBT people?

Jamaica is a very religious society; arguably we are socialized in Christianity. Religion is one of the main driving forces behind the discrimination meted out to LGBT people, and our existing anti-sodomy laws. Religion which focuses on unity, love and tolerance can be good in the Jamaican situation. There are existing faith communities which focuses on these principles, these communities can speak up, with and for the LGBT Jamaican people. They would become a voice that does not currently exist and can help in shaping religion to play a good part for the situation of LGBT people in Jamaica.

Albert Ogle: How are you connected to other activists and organizations and what do you see as an underlying theme globally for all you are doing?

I must say, Jamaican Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays has agreed to be QCJ’s fiscal sponsor, per our request until we develop the capacity and no longer need that support. QCJ has been introduced to other local organizations all of whom has indicated a willingness to work with us; QCJ has also been introduced to Jamaican activists. Internationally I have begun informing activists I met during my visit to DC, and Bali, and also those who have visited Jamaica, about QCJ and how we may work together.

Albert Ogle: How can readers help you and QCJ achieve your goals this year?

QCJ is currently run by volunteers, and has a balance of $0. This year QCJ’s major goals are: to register as a non-profit organization under Jamaican law; participate in International Women’s Day; conduct an IDAHO event of a rainbow flash; and conduct two workshops, one with lesbian, bisexual (LB) and WSW youth, and one with the aging lesbian population.

Also, QCJ is in need of office stationary and marketing material. Finally, in our first year, QCJ would like to begin one of our pieces of researches into issues affecting our constituents. QCJ happily welcomes any and all donations, whether they are cash or kind donations, we also are happy with donations of time and online training.

More information on Quality of Citizenship Jamaica can be found on our website HERE.
I can be contacted at:, or 1-876-317-2227.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Cross-Dressers Not Deserving Of Sympathy? (Gleaner article)

The long standing issue to do with the homeless msm in New Kingston and its environs for almost four and a half years since the closure of the Safe House Pilot project in 2009/10 has been getting alot of attention again given the crackdown on the activities of the men after being accused of a vicious attack on a popular supermarket among other things.

Pity the author of the article is limiting his critique to just the realm of transvestism but there was some balance where he mentioned the welfare issues in some sense, this piece came after my podcast highlighting the actions taken by some of the owners of the lands who have hired guard dogs and armed security details to protect their lands now. The long awaited shelter that was banded about by JFLAG is not forthcoming and the agency along with their parent Jamaica AIDS Support for Life and all other tenants on the landspace have been given eviction notices as the property is said to have been sold.

here is the podcast as recorded February 23 after a visit to a section on New Kingston where the men congregate:

Here is the article however ...........

Robert Lalah wrote:

People living in the Golden Triangle area of St Andrew have been complaining about a rowdy band of gay men who congregate at an unoccupied house near Hopefield Avenue after hours and raise ruckus.

The police have had a hard time dealing with the noisy trespassers and struggle with balancing their duty to enforce the law, with their responsibility to protect offenders from being harmed in lock-up. After all, men who behave effeminately might not fare well among other detainees who tend to believe that lawbreaking should be done in a more manly way.

Recently, some unruly men had to be rescued by police when they were pounced upon by a group of people who were fed up with their girly gallivanting. Both The Gleaner and STAR ran striking photos the next day of the men dressed in women's wear.

Many people were shocked by these photos. It's not every day we see men dressed like this. And that they showed no embarrassment, even though this happened in the middle of the day in a heavily populated area, was alarming.

I wondered what would become of the men after the police took them away. It didn't appear that they were trespassing on property or breaking any other laws when they were cornered by the group, so they wouldn't be charged with anything. They apparently have no home, so taking them there wasn't an option. What were the police to do? Take them to Cross Roads and let them off? That would be a case of jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

I guess the police know how to handle these situations.

Last week, I was out for a morning run in the area and passed by the house where the men used to gather. I noticed about five security guards with mean-looking dogs there. Not even the most emphatic heterosexual would dare trespass. Problem solved, I thought to myself.

But a few chains down the road, I was confronted with stark proof that the problem was, in fact, far from being solved. There's an empty lot near Vale Royal that's fenced off, even though there's nothing there but bush. As I passed by in the early morning, I glanced over, and, to my surprise, saw one of the men I'd seen in those photos. He had on the same clothes he did then and was walking through the bushes looking at the ground. I would have just continued running if the sheer sadness of the scene hadn't stilled my legs.

No difference

There was this man, this human being no different from you and I, walking around like a hungry dog searching for food. He looked more like a wild beast than a man. As the sun rose above him, he looked up and saw me staring. He stuck out his hand as if to ask for money and I gestured that I had none to give. With that, he shrugged and went back to walking around looking at the ground.

I've been bothered by that moment since then. Why didn't I help him? I had a few hundred dollars with me and could have spared it. I felt ashamed when I got back home because I knew that my own selfish pride got in my way of helping someone desperately in need.

I didn't want to engage with this man dressed in women's clothes or risk being seen giving him money, and that stunted my instinct to help. I know that if he hadn't been dressed in women's clothes, I'd have given him the money. The fact that I didn't, because of his appearance, is wrong.

In that moment, I had the opportunity to be the change all of us want to see in Jamaica. Every day people write letters to the editor and phone call-in programmes saying they want a better country. Aside from grand economic and social strategies, the way we achieve this is by changing the way we relate to each other in our everyday interactions. I let pride and selfishness influence my conduct with a fellow Jamaican, and that will get us nowhere.

I've been back to the area, seeking to right this wrong, but now there's a sign on the fence stating that the property is protected by a guard and attack dog. Another 'problem solved' for a landowner.

The man I saw there has moved on and will face discrimination and hatred from all corners. My hope is that somewhere along the line, he'll meet up with someone whose willingness to help won't be compromised by selfish concerns. People like that have the power to make this country better.

Robert Lalah, associate editor - features, is author of the popular Tuesday feature, 'Roving with Lalah'. Email feedback to and

also see: 

Street MSM stone JFLAG's Office

And we continue to reap the world-wind for not addressing homelessness when it was manageable

Homeless MSM make news again for all the wrong reasons

Certainly persons like myself and others who were part of the various consultations and groups such as GLABCOM who in years in the making came to set up the previous Safe House that was closed under dubious circumstances feel so hurt how things have played out, the least amongst us are just that it seems "THE LEAST" but hope remains while company is true however as persons are seeking other ways to deal with this once and for all excluding the politics that makes advocacy in this country. The other populations outside of Kingston due to their docile nature and introverted mannerisms however are not mentioned for any interventions for a shelter of at the very least street based frontline work, I guess we always have to wait until one of us dies or is badly beaten or attacked for them to be used as a public relations magnet to the issue.

Prevention is better than cure I say.


A Clovis cartoon from the Jamaica Observer depicting the supermarket drama some time ago which highlights the continued belittling of the group of homeless men.

Peace and tolerance

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