Thursday, August 21, 2014

Misinterpreting Marley's 'Who the cap fit' .......... Man To Man is So Unjust as Anti Gay

Blakka Ellis 

Hear wha mi a say today. Call me a nerd, or whatever, but I have a fascination with literary analysis and lyrical interpretation. Yes, exploring the meanings, themes and ideas in poems, songs and stories was probably the single most enjoyable aspect of my life as a student. Mi kinda weird, doh? Yeah, man, and that also was the most fulfilling part of my work in a former life as a teacher of high school Literature.

So when one of my nephews sought to engage me in a conversation some years ago, about the meaning of the lyrics in some of Bob Marley's songs, I was pleased as punch and ready to reason.

The pleasure soon evaporated though, when the youngster reluctantly accepted that although my arguments and explanations made sense, he still held on firmly to the view that Marley actually spoke out against homosexuality in his music. And the example he cited was 'man to man is so unjust, you don't know who to trust' - the opening lyrics from the song Who The Cap Fit.

Well, I felt that such a gross misinterpretation of Marley's lyrics was probably forgivable in the case of my nephew because he, admittedly, had never, ever yet 'read off a whole book' yet, and didn't pay much attention in school.

It was much harder to forgive an educated man, MP Dr. Dayton Campbell, who used the same flawed interpretation when he quoted Marley in a twitter rail against American singer Frank Ocean after his performance on the Grammy Awards show last year. According to news sources at the time, the MP tweeted "Frank Ocean man fi have ooman pon dem mind. How di hell man end up on your mind massah?? 

Bob done tell you say man to man is so unjust!!!"

Of course, the tweet lit up a mini firestorm about the politician's perceived anti-gay stance, and appropriateness of his comments etc. with biting remarks and fighting words coming from both attacking and defending poles. But that area is not my focus. My issue is with the literary analysis and what I see as misinterpretation of Marley's words. And guess what, I'm now discovering that Dr Campbell and my nephew are not alone in their 'misconscrewed' view. Well, students, teacha say a never dat Bob mean by 'man to man is so unjust'. No hyah!

OK, I can stretch my brain enough to maybe imagine how the idea of 'man to man is so unjust' could vaguely possibly be about sex and sexuality. Here's how. Like, for instance in the case of say, some lonely heterosexual women now, who could understandably be justified in feeling that it's unfair or 'unjust' for men to be going with other men, when they are there willing, able, available and horny, but unable to get men to go with them. But that's a hell of a stretch. I don't think Mr Marley was singing from that standpoint.

Anyone who attempts a serious interpretation of the song [one that takes into account the other verses and chorus] would agree with me that those initial lines are referring to the unfair and [bad mind] ways in which human beings deal with each other. And although the word used is 'man', the song is clearly [as in the case of plenty biblical references] using man to refer to all human beings.

Di song a talk about people generally, woman, man and 'others', and how dem wicked and deceptive. Marley was reminding unnu say 'your worst enemy, could be your best friend and your best friend your worst enemy', so watch some a dem, how dem 'eat and drink with you, then behind dem su-su pon yu'.

Is that kind of unjust way, how man deal wid man, Bob Marley did a pree! So stop twist and mix up the words of the Gong. 


Who me a talk? 

Who di cap fit!

Dancehall Act Stylysh says Lesbians Linked her on Instagram after Secret Lovers' Song Controversy ....... Video Shoot to Commence

Dancehall artiste Stylysh will be shooting a video for her 'Secret Lovers' single, featuring Ishawna, sometime this week to next according to sources close to her camp.

"The buzz around the song has been incredible so far. The whole lesbian rumours were a bit crazy and, after the STAR published a story, a lot of lesbians began to link me up on Instagram and started saying some really crazy things to me, but mi just laugh it off because ah just entertainment, and people got the wrong idea. But, at the end of the day, everybody ah live dem life, and what dem do behind closed doors is their business. I love all my fans," she said. 

It seems the hype surrounding the lesbian bit has worked in making the song popular in certain circles at least as some artistes do anything for sales and hype these days, was it a purposeful risk by her management and Ishawana? seeing that lesbianism is not so frowned upon as male homosexuality.

Secret Lovers is a take-off of the 1985 hit single by R&B group Atlantic Starr."The video is going to have a few surprises. The fans are going to love the twist at the end," Stylysh said.

The video will be directed by Marshall Artz studios.

She has been on a promotional tour over the past few weeks, doing interviews on MD TV, CVM's Da Wrap, HYPE TV, RE TV and Swagg TV.

"This major promotional push has paid off because of the response I have been getting from fans in the streets. My Instagram page and Twitter pages have more followers, and I am getting more spins on radio for Gypsy and Secret Lovers," she said.

She recently recorded a new single called It Nuh Easy (Jailhouse Drama). She will be releasing If Mi Man A Gimme Bun for Seanizzle Records later this week. Other upcoming projects include songs for Chase Mills Records, Building Block Records and UIM Records.

photo from urbanislandz 
Pamputae's infamous lesbian kiss

As I said in my previous post on this I only hope this is ethical and not a pretend not to be a lesbian to gain hype for the song then the truth comes out, we have seen other female dancehall acts land themselves in not water such as Pampatae's "lesbian kiss" and her career seems to have stalled since with very little output or appearances on shows.


Ishawna dolled up from eliteja

We can safely say then that Jamaican entertainment has crossed some lines somewhat and is now serving same gender loving women subjects more but is it on a honest end is my query, yes the sex industry via strip clubs are or have been there already in terms of live or simulated lesbian sex on stage (even by non lesbian dancers or performers) as Jamaican men lap it all up pegged on a fantasy to be with more than one woman.

Also see: 
We're not lesbians - Stylysh clarifies song with Ishawna .......... And So What if They Were?

Peace and tolerance


Thursday, August 14, 2014

Tobacco plant be the key to HIV Prevention via Microbicidal Gel?

HSC communications and marketing

Researchers from the University of Louisville will lead an international effort to utilize tobacco plants to develop a gel containing a specific protein that will prevent the transmission of HIV. The project is being funded by a five-year, $14.7 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.

Kenneth Palmer, PhD, is leading research into using tobacco plants to help develop a gel that would prevent HIV.

“Our researchers are looking to solve problems that affect the world,” James Ramsey, president of the University of Louisville, said during an announcement of the research Aug. 4. “Globally, more than 34 million people are HIV positive. The development of a low-cost method to prevent transmission of HIV certainly is something that is desperately needed and the use of tobacco plants as a method of carrying the vaccine appears to be key in the process.”

“Approximately seven years ago, UofL and Owensboro Health created a joint venture to develop a world-class plant pharmaceutical program that would have an impact globally,” said David L. Dunn, MD, executive vice president for health affairs at UofL. “Today’s announcement, coupled with the announcement we made in May about the Helmsley Charitable Trust providing funding to our research into two other cancer vaccines utilizing tobacco plants, demonstrates that the vision is becoming a reality.”

Kenneth Palmer, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology and toxicology and director of theOwensboro Cancer Research Program of UofL’s James Graham Brown Cancer Center, is leading a team of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, the Magee-Women’s Research Institute in Pittsburgh, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden, the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, the University of Maryland, Baltimore and Kentucky Bioprocessing Inc. and Intrucept Biomedicine LLC in Owensboro.

The team is working with the carbohydrate combining protein Griffithsin (GRFT), which is found in red algae. In laboratory work, the protein has shown to have broad-spectrum activity against HIV. GRFT binds to the dense shield of sugars that surrounds HIV cells and prevents these cells from entering other non-HIV cells. The team plans to develop a gel containing the protein for use during sexual intercourse by people at risk for HIV transmission.

To develop the microbicide, Palmer’s team takes a synthetic copy of the protein and injects it into a tobacco mosaic virus, which carries the protein into the tobacco leaves. After 12 days, the researchers harvest the leaves and extract the mass-produced protein for development into the vaccine.

“Our goal is to optimize the delivery system of the protective agent, which in this case is a gel, and determine its safety and estimates of its efficacy, leading to a first-in-humans clinical trial,” Palmer said.

“People may question why a cancer program is conducting research into HIV prevention,” said Donald Miller, MD, director of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center, a part of KentuckyOne Health. “In fact, cancer can be a result of every major disease that we know about, and HIV infection is no exception.”

Overall, the grant contains three significant projects – The Critical Path Project; Preclinical Testing Project; and Clinical Trial Project.

The critical path project involves manufacturing the microbicide active ingredient, ensuring quality of the microbicide and the formulated gel product and production for actual use. This process is in collaboration with two Owensboro-based biotechnology companies (Kentucky Bioprocessing Inc. and Intrucept Biomedicine LLC), and Lisa Rohan, PhD, at the University of Pittsburgh and Magee-Women’s Research Institute. Rohan has significant experience developing delivery systems for similar medications.

The preclinical testing project is a collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta to use an animal model to ensure that the vaccine is safe and to determine that it actually provides protection from infection.

The clinical trial project involves developing the application to conduct a clinical trial for the Food and Drug Administration, as well as conducting the first-in-humans testing.

Defend Orashia Campaign Launched to Stop Removal from the UK by Home Office

In a follow up to a case I carried here in January of this year of a bisexual man who is Jamaican but is facing a possibility of being removed from the UK even after some ten years residing in that country is in fear of retribution if he is returned as the case has gotten some major press as of late. At one point he was made out to be a liar in a bid to get his stay in the UK and the authorities seem to also have bought into the line as well as he is not effeminate or "camp" as some other successful applicants are and are judged by.

A Facebook campaign has been launched entitled Defend Orashia led by No Border Leeds who have managed to convince persons as to the veracity of the story (including me) they have been on an aggressive public education drive since the matter broke.

Their latest post alongside their petition reads as follows(Aug 1):

"It's likely that the Home Office will try once again to issue removal directions shortly so please be ready to contact the airline.

In the meantime, check for how you can support & join our bloc at Leeds Pride tomorrow.
Press release-
Orashia's campaign gets support from Leeds Pride
Legal challenge continues as Orashia remains in detention

Leeds Pride Sunday 3rd August 12pm Millennium Square

The ongoing campaign by Orashia Edwards, a Jamaican bisexual fighting for asylum in Leeds, will be mentioned at the keynote speech during Pride tomorrow. Family and friends will march together to highlight the case of Orashia, who's currently in detention for the 3rd time this year. The march will also call for a complete review on how lgbti asylum seekers are processed as it is incredibly intrusive and currently 98% of people are denied asylum.

Orashia is currently in Colnbrook detention centre where his mental health has deteriorated dramatically but he cannot access the care he needs due to conditions there. Due to an intervention by his solicitor, he was able to see a psychiatrist who reported 'acute mental distress'. Obviously this condition cannot improve until he is released and campaigners will continue to focus on this.

His application for bail was denied on Friday 1st August as the Home Office hope to try and issue removal directions shortly. However Orashia's legal team will keep on fighting until he receives the protection he needs. Both a Judicial Review and a new bail application will be applied for on Monday."


Orashia Edwards, pictured left

The Petition can be seen and signed HERE

The Group says:

If he is forcibly removed by the Home Office, his life is in severe danger in Jamaica. All is family are settled in the UK and he would be completely isolated and in hiding. His case has gained mass media attention and support in the past months and he has become well known both here in the UK and in Jamaica. This means that the danger his life is in, because of his sexuality, has increased and he was recently victim to a homophobic attack here in Leeds where he lives. This cannot be tolerated and if the British government and the Home Office say they stand for human rights and equality then they need to release Orashia from detention now.

In 2013 a Home Office spokesman said: ”We have changed our guidance to ensure that we do not remove individuals who have demonstrated a proven risk of persecution on grounds of sexual orientation.'' ( Why is this then happening to people like Orashia?

Orashia is an amazing person who has the ability to shine so much more than he has been given a chance to here in Britain. He is a faithful friend and does what he can to help and support others going through similar issues to him. He has a close family, many friends and is involved in various groups and organisations around Leeds. His situation has meant that life is a daily unknown battle for himself, his family, especially his mother who works overtime on order to support him, and those closest to him. Please sign this petition and demand Orashia be given a fair chance at a real life now and not be punished for his sexuality.

You can watch a short documentary about Orashia's story called State of Limbo here:

Another documentary called Judgement Day about Orashia's court hearing on 30th June can be watched here:

Impossible for Intersex People to be Cisgender?

Dr. Cary Gabriel Costello

"Is it impossible for intersex people to be cisgender because it is impossible in society to live completely as in intersex person with no male or female legal checkbox?"

In my experience, what you find when speaking with intersex people about this is an interesting split based upon gender identity. Intersex people who do not identify with the binary sex they were coercively assigned at birth tend to see all intersex people as forced to live trans lives. Intersex people who do identify with the binary sex label they were given at birth instead generally see themselves as cis people, and only frame as trans gender those intersex people who gender transition or who assert a nonbinary gender identity.

Personally, as an intersex gender transitioner, I fall into the camp that does not view intersex people living in our society as cis gender, even if their gender identity matches their assigned sex. Intersex children are born neither male nor female, but are forced into a binary sex category by a contemporary social ideology that says this is mandatory. Many are then subjected to infant sex assignment surgery to try to make their bodies conform to their assigned sex. What is that other than a forced sex change? Just because a person grows up to identify with the sex they were assigned at birth does not mean they will feel surgeries they were subjected to were appropriate. Loss of potential fertility and loss of capacity for sexual sensation are prices that they may not consider worth the result of a somewhat-more-sex-conforming body--note that many people who gender transition by choice choose not to get genital surgery. Thus, I believe, framing medical interventions into the reproductive organs and genitals of intersex people as trans interventions, not "corrections," is important, as it will force doctors to give us agency over what is done to our bodies, and prevent them from removing the very sexual features we may most identify with.

The problem with my framework politically is that a majority of intersex people today do live in their assigned binary sexes, growing up as we do in a society in which that is the norm. The percentage of us who mature to gender transition or assert a nonbinary gender identity is much higher than is the case for nonintersex people, although we don't know the exact degree of the difference because doctors are emphatically not collecting data on us, their sex-assignment "failures." Still, a majority do live their lives in their assigned sexes (often completely in the closet about being born sex-variant, as doctors have urged parents to train their children to be). And most such people do not identify at all as "forced to live a transgender life." That is, they identify as cis gender.

If someone says, "I was assigned female (or male) at birth, and I identify as female (or male)," then we usually call such a person cis gender. So intersex people who understand themselves as cis gender have a very valid basis for framing themselves that way. Certainly this is the way the medical field treats the situation, in claiming to assign us to what they used to call our "true" sex, and now call our "best" sex. Doctors view themselves not as imposing sex changes upon unconsenting infants, but as revealing our "real" binary (cis) sex.

I feel that understanding all intersex people who have been assigned a binary sex (which, in the US today, is all of us) as trans is useful, because it gives us a way to oppose unconsented-to infant genital surgeries. I view those intersex people who are happy in their assigned sexes as no different from people who are not intersex, but gender transition by choice and are happy as a result.

At the same time, I don't feel I have a right to tell an intersex person who identifies as cis gender that they can't do that. After all, as trans gender advocates note, every person is coercively assigned to a binary sex at birth. A person who grows up to identify as genderqueer, or with the binary sex they were not assigned, is forced to struggle with medical and legal and social forces to have their identity recognized, whether sex variant by birth or born with a body considered normative. So, viewing all cis people as coercively assigned to the sex with which they identify makes calling intersex people who identify with the sex they were assigned "cis gender" reasonable, from a trans-affirming perspective. (Of course, many people are not trans-affirming, and transphobia can motivate rejection of being labeled trans gender. But I do not believe it is either charitable or necessary to assume that an intersex person who identifies with their birth-assigned sex and rejects being labeled as trans is motivated by bigotry.)

I just feel that labeling anyone who is medically altered to change the sex characteristics of their body as trans makes the most sense, and is useful from an advocacy standpoint.


I've done some additional thinking about this topic, and would like to have people consider approaching gender identity in intersex people by acknowledging that we can never address intersex experience well through binary terminology. What we may really need to do is to introduce another term.

what I would suggest doing is adding to the terms "cis" and "trans" another term often used in scientific terminology. In chemistry, which gives us the language of cis and trans isomers, there are chemicals based upon a ring structure, called arene rings. When a chemical substitution is made in the same place on the ring, this is referred to as "ipso" substitution.

If we were to add the term "ipso gender" to trans and cis gender, we could perhaps describe intersex experience more accurately. A cis gender intersex person would be one with an intermediate gender identity, since that "matches" their birth sex. An ipso gender intersex person would identify with the binary sex they were medically assigned (the social sex substituted for their intersex birth status being the same as their identified sex). And a trans gender intersex person would be one who identifies with the binary sex other than the one they were assigned by doctors.

This terminology solution is not without its drawbacks. Usually people who are genderqueer in identity are considered to fall under the trans umbrella, but in the case of intersex people, they'd fall under the cis heading, which could prove confusing. But it's also possible that confusion would itself prove productive.

It's certainly worth considering.

Dr Costello is an academic and scaler of boundary walls, intersex by birth, female-reared, legally transitioned to male status, and says he is pleased with his trajectory

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Indian Ministerial Committee Considers Granting Third Gender Status to Transgender Persons


The government has constituted an inter-ministerial committee to pursue implementation of the recommendations of an Expert Committee, seeking "third gender" status for transgenders, Lok Sabha was informed today.

Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Sudarshan Bhagat(above), in a written statement in Lok Sabha said the key recommendation of the Committee formed by the government was that the transgender should be declared as third gender.

He said the other recommendations include access to health-care, educational opportunities at all levels without stigma and discrimination, formulation of umbrella schemes and others.

The Supreme Court in its judgment had directed the Centre and state governments to take steps for framing various social welfare schemes for betterment of transgender persons, take proper measures to provide medical care, hospital and others.

"The expert committee has recommended a state level authority duly designated or constituted by the respective states/UTs on the lines of Tamil Nadu Transgender Welfare Board.

"An Inter-Ministerial committee has been constituted to pursue implementation of Expert Committee's recommendations," Bhagat said.

The minister said the Court has further directed to examine the recommendations of the Expert Committee based on legal declaration made in its judgement and implement them.

Replying to another question, he said that "keeping in view the socio-cultural-economic and technological developments in the last decade, the National Policy on Older Persons (NPOP), 1999 is being revised by the department of Social Justice and Empowerment to include promotion of measures to create avenues for continuity in employment or post retirement opportunities for senior citizens".

Bhagat said the NPOP, 1999 recognizes that 60 plus phase of life is a huge untapped resource and proposes that facilities be provided to senior citizens so that their potential is utilized.

To carry forward the spirit of the policy, various programmes like computer training for senior citizens, school programme for inter-generational bonding are being carried out.

Transgenders celebrate with a cake after the Supreme Court'­s verdict recognizing third gender category, in Mumbai, India, April 15, 2014.

Transgender folks celebrate with a cake after the Supreme Court'­s verdict recognizing third gender category, in Mumbai, India, April 15, 2014. Rajanish Kakade/AP

India’s Supreme Court had issued a landmark ruling in April that allowed hundreds of thousands of transgender people to identify themselves as a third gender. Human rights groups are lauding the decision as historic and groundbreaking.

“It is the right of every human being to choose their gender,” the court wrote.

“Recognition of transgenders as a third gender is not a social or medical issue but a human rights issue,” Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan, one of the two head judges on the Supreme Court bench, told the court.

The high court has ordered the government to allocate public sector jobs to transgender people, known as “hijras” and include them in welfare programs.

The court ruling is a result of a petition filed by a group of transgender people that argued their community was marginalized both economically and socially. Arguing that their non-legal status has led to further discrimination, hate crimes, and lack of access to jobs and education, the petitioners asked the government to grant them formal recognition for the first time in India’s history.

“Transgenders are also citizens of India,” said the court in its order. “The spirit of the Constitution is to provide equal opportunity to every citizen to grow and attain their potential, irrespective of caste, religion or gender.”

Federal and state governments will need to recognize the third gender on birth certificates, passports and driving licenses. The government will also consider transgender individuals a minority to help fill quotas in jobs and schools.

One of the petitioners in the case, transgender activist Laxmi Tripathi, told reporters outside the Delhi courthouse that the court’s decision will advance equality in India.

“Today, for the first time I feel very proud to be an Indian,” Tripathi said.

While India now recognizes the transgender community as a third gender, the ruling only applies to transgender people and not gays, lesbians or bisexuals. In December, the Supreme Court reversed a 2009 court order that decriminalized homosexuality, reinstating a ban on gay sex.

Jamaica’s Multi-Media Artist, Yrneh Gabon Brown, for major exhibition at California Museum

Jamaica’s flag continues to be carried high all over the world . And while the country is known for its excellent performances in the areas of sports and music, Jamaicans are shining and achieving in many other areas as well. Now comes news that Jamaica’s multi-media artist, Yrneh Gabon Brown, has secured his first six month solo exhibition and sale of his work at one of California’s leading museums, the California African American Museum.

The exhibition will run from August 29 2014. This is a great achievement for any artist in a competitive environment where only the best gets rewarded with even a second glance in Hollywood’s fast pace jet-set world of the arts and entertainment. .

Yrneh’s exhibition is being presented under the theme ‘Visibly Invisible’ and tells the stories of his personal journey and awakening while researching and documenting the devastating effects of prejudice, ignorance and violence inflicted upon people affected with albinism in Tanzania, Jamaica and even the United Sates .

As a special aspect of his exhibition, Yrneh has invited his mentor, well known Grammy and Emmy-nominated actress and visual artist, C.C. Pounder, to exhibit a piece of her work which ties in with the theme of his show on albinism. ‘C.C Pounder who is known for her roles in ‘ER’, ‘X Files’ and the movie ‘Avatar’, has been a strong supporter of my research on albinism in Africa and it was through her involvement and support that I was even able to undertake the research and to travel to Tanzania’, noted Yrneh. 

Through videos, recorded in these locations, and artwork created in various media, (photography, collage, assemblage, sheet metal, cast bronze and ceramic sculpture), Yrneh will share his inspirational trips and heart-felt devotion towards children and adults living with albinism.

“I first saw the prejudices against people with albinism as a child in Jamaica and this has inspired this exhibition ,” he noted.

Yrneh is an artist dedicated to a cause, which in and of itself is not a unique quality but according to those who have helped him to hone his craft and creative skills, what is rare is the depth of his devotion to it, and rare also are the creative ways he champions it. Yrneh believes that his artwork must have a real impact in the world and must create change. He believes that art has power. While undertaking his studies at the Roski School of Art and Design at the University of Southern California, Yrneh saw his work as active in the larger social and political fabric. Yrneh is focused on building his audience and his means of support and educating the world. He envisions his work as being fully integrated into the social sphere in a way that few other artists do.

In his work to be displayed come month-end, Yrneh presents the history of and contemporary conditions surrounding albinism in areas of Tanzania, where human body parts are sometimes used as ingredients for the practice of magic. The belief persists that these magic practitioners can make their customers more powerful, personally, economically, and sexually. These practitioners prey on people with albinism even to this very day, mutilating or killing them for their body parts.

Beyond the big story, Yrneh makes artworks that tell the stories of individuals with albinism, so that the whole terrible practice becomes personal. Through his exhibit, he intends to educate and to bring about change.

Yrneh Gabon Brown was born in Kingston, Jamaica. He has lived and worked in the United States, Europe and the Caribbean and now resides in Los Angeles, California. Before migrating to the USA, Yrneh won gold and silver medals in speech and drama festivals from the Jamaican Cultural Development Commission. In 1988, he won the grand finals in the Tastee talent contest, then the leading talent contest in the Caribbean.

Yrneh has worked with several television and film studios such as, New Line Cinema, Disney, Mupheduh, Paradise Films, & Television, Lorimar, ABC’s 20/20, HBO T.V, Channel 4 Brazil, T.VJ Jamaica, and CVM-TV (Jamaica). In 2006 Yrneh Gabon Brown took the brave step and returned to school where he pursued a degree at the prestigious University of Southern California, Gayle Roski School of Fine Arts (USC ) graduating with honours.

‘I’m excited about this solo exhibition and am putting the final touches to the pieces which will be finished and fully installed for the opening come August 29.”Yrneh added.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Ugandan gay pride parade despite legal challenges ....... third in succession

ENTEBBE, Uganda (AP) — Scores of Ugandan homosexuals marched through sprawling botanical gardens in the lakeside town of Entebbe on Saturday, their first pride parade since a Ugandan court invalidated a controversial anti-gay law.

Many marchers wore masks, signaling they did not want to be publicly identified in a country where homosexuals and their supporters face severe discrimination.

Although organizers had expected more than 500 people to attend the event, fewer than 200 turned up, said gay activist Moses Kimbugwe, who noted that many were afraid of possible violence following a court's decision earlier this month to jettison an anti-gay law that had wide support among Ugandans.

"We are here to walk for those who can't walk, who are afraid to walk," said Kimbugwe. "We are here to celebrate our rights."

Uganda's Constitutional Court ruled last week that the anti-gay law enacted only five months ago was illegal because it was passed during a parliamentary session that lacked a quorum. Some lawmakers have pledged to try to reintroduce the same legislation when parliament emerges from a recess later this month. They said they would try to pass the same law in parliament since it had been invalidated on technical grounds and not its substance.

A transgender Ugandan poses in front of a rainbow flag during the 3rd Annual Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride celebrations in Entebbe, Uganda, Saturday, Aug. 9, 2014. (AP PHOTO/REBECCA VASSIE)
On Saturday, activists held up placards saying they would not give up the fight for gay rights in this conservative East African country of 36 million people. Some waved rainbow flags as they danced and frolicked on a sandy beach on the shores of Lake Victoria, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the capital, Kampala.

This was the third annual gay pride event, organizers said. The first one, in 2012, turned violent after local police tried to break it up, said Ugandan lesbian activist Jacqueline Kasha. This time they had been given assurances by the police that they could go ahead with the march, she said.

"We are a group of people who have suffered enough," she said. "We are Ugandans who have the right to gather in a public place ... and we are going to have fun."

Some among the marchers said they had initially planned to hold the event in Kampala but were warned by police that such a move would be provocative and possibly dangerous.

Homosexuals face threats including evictions by landlords and many have fled to neighboring countries such as Kenya, where the anti-gay sentiment is less pervasive, according to Ugandan rights activists. Many homosexuals are victims of extortionist campaigns by people who threaten to reveal their homosexuality to the police, said Kasha, the lesbian leader.

copyright (AFP Photo/Isaac Kasamani)

Homosexuality had been mostly a taboo subject in Uganda until a lawmaker, saying he wanted to protect children from Western gays, introduced a bill in 2009 prescribing the death penalty for what the bill described as serious homosexual offenses. The bill was revised to remove the death penalty and instead have jail terms of up to life for convicted homosexuals. 

Watchdogs groups and some Western governments condemned the bill as draconian and unnecessary in a country where homosexuality had long been a criminal offense.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Jamaica's National Flower Lignum Vitae Found to Have Bio-activity to Fight HIV

Jamaica’s national flower the Lignum Vitae has been found to contain properties that could be used to treat persons living with the Human Immune Virus, HIV, the virus that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, AIDS, by depleting the immune systems of infected persons the researchers who worked on the discovery were led by noted Jamaican scientist and entrepreneur Dr Henry Lowe, the research team noted that the Lignum Vitae has potent bioactivity that could work against HIV.

The study outlined in part:

Aim: Jamaica is rich in medicinal plants. Guaiacum oficinale is the “National Flower”, with reported uses in folk medicine for the treatment of various conditions including inflammation. In our search for plants with anticancer and anti-infective properties, we evaluated Guaiacum oficinale for activity against HIV-1.

Methodology: The leaf, seed and twig extracts of G. oficinale were screened for anti HIV-1 properties in primary peripheral blood mononuclear cels (PBMCs) infected with the reference HIV-1 BaL strain.

Results: Al the tested extracts inhibited HIV-1 p24 production by infected cells, with EC50 concentrations of 2.35µg/ml, 23.42µg/ml and 25.04µg/ml, respectively for the leaf, seed and twig extracts. As comparison, Betulinic acid had an EC50 value of 27.50µg/ml. The tested extracts had IC50/EC50 selectivity index (SI) values of ≥ 3, which compared favorably to Betulinic acid SI value of 1.09.

Conclusion: The results of this study suggest that extracts of G. oficinale may provide leads for the discovery of new drug agents against HIV-1.

Dr Henry Lowe

A statement from Dr Lowe’s Environmental Health Foundation, EHF Group of Companies said that although known from last year test results were repeated several times to ensure data accuracy it says since then the findings were published April 2014 issue of the prestigious European Journal of Medicinal Plants, according to the statement since publication a significant amount of data has been developed, the work of Dr Lowe and his research team has been lauded by Dr Joseph Bryant of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland Medical School where the global viral network is located. Dr Bryant said Dr Lowe and his researchers need to be recognised and commended for bringing a gift of a major potential magic bullet from a Jamaican tree to the potential management of HIV.

The EHF Group says it is currently pursuing potential drugs from the Lignum Vitae in collaboration with the US based National Products Division of the Research Triangle International which is known for its discoveries of anti HIV drugs, based on this collaboration the EHF Group believes it is one the verge of discovering a potent major anti HIV drug from the plant, Dr Lowe who is the founder and the scientist at the Kingston based Biotech R & D Institute plans to do further research on the isolates of the Lignum Vitae this in order to develop a treatment that could be used alone or as part of a cocktail for the management of HIV/AIDS.

In the interim a nutraceutical product is being developed the EHF group says a US patent has so far been filed in order to protect this vital intellectual property.

The tree is found almost everywhere and in even dry rocky conditions, it is also available in the United States and the Caribbean but as different varieties and is a home remedy for tonsillitis by soaking the bar until the water turns red then gargle or drunk for fever, in the Virgin Islands it is used for fish poisoning and in other parts of the Caribbean for even abortion when specially prepared, it seems this plat we have here and I have no doubt many others have properties that we must explore and unearth. Some parts of Latin America use the leaves for tea to treat stomach aches or as an energy booster when soaked overnight and drunk unsweetened. It is also said to have anti bacterial properties in a subsequent interview with Dr Lowe on Nationwide radio.

He said in that interview also that it could be a potential foreign exchange earner for Jamaica.

Another household use in Jamaica is that of a makeshift broom when a few branches are tied together and is an excellent insect repeller in kitchens in a similar bunched set of green leaves and used to chase away flies and such from meats and fruits. It is rested and amongst fruits, tubers and other foods to supposedly slow down drying out of them when stored in a container or typical food basket and also chasing away fruit flies, moths that feed or surround the aforementioned. During Christmas it attracts thousands of butterflies to its purple flowers and said thousands of caterpillars can be seen on its trunk and branches as they feed prior to pupating.

the trunk often used to make a tea or broth or bark is stripped off and used separately

It seems this plant has some properties just by its natural use and the attraction or repulsion of insects and so on. Not to mention its use as a disciplinary tool for whipping but cut in very slim stick strips as it does not break easily.

Hope we can find the active properties and develop on this as an alternative for the other manufactured and still expensive antiretroviral and highly active antiretroviral therapies available and given the push on PrEP as treatment cheaper drugs are needed as Truvada locally is not so cheap and is partially distributed via the free national system.

Download the PDF file on the research HERE written by Dr Henry Lowe

Peace and tolerance


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Human Rights Protect Us From Each Other

Firstly Happy Independence Day Jamaica and hope we do reflect on our struggle as a nation and not just the usual handing out of Order of Jamaica and Festival or Grand Gala celebrations without some deep thinking on where were are now especially on rights which is timely for discussion given recent events.

The following is a column from a member of Jamaicans for Justice's membership given the recent meltdown and constitution of an interim board.


The protection of universal human rights and the separation of Church and State are foundational for a robust democracy. As a normative framework, a human-rights approach to law and governance, by design, protects the rights and freedoms of all groups - including Christians. Contrary to the divisive rhetoric coming from Jamaican religious leaders, the human-rights movement is not a war against the Church.

It has been argued that Jamaica is a majority-Christian country and as such, a Judaeo-Christian world view should dictate law, particularly in the context of Jamaica's buggery law. This is not new. Oftentimes, groups in positions of superiority find it difficult to consider the plight of disadvantaged groups. They either cannot identify with minority causes, have no real reason to care, or have an incentive to perpetuate thestatus quo.

In Jamaica, an archaic, strict majoritarian vision of democracy has been advanced as a solution to resolving social tensions. That is, the interests of minorities are unimportant because of their minority status. This approach is exclusionary.

The dangerous implications become clear when, in alternate cultural contexts, the roles are reversed, and these groups experience widespread discrimination and persecution at the hands of some other majority. They clamour for equality, human rights, and an end to the same discrimination they exhibit when they are in comfortable majority settings.

The pervasiveness of discrimination across societies demonstrates that discrimination, as a phenomenon, does not discriminate. Depending on the context, minorities, of any identity group, face the prospect of prejudice. Political systems should, therefore, be designed to protect against the tyranny of the majority. They should be secular, creating a neutral public sphere in which all people can exist on equal terms. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

This is why Steve Lyston's recent column, 'Religious freedom and global economy' (Gleaner, July 28, 2014), is so bizarre. Lyston was decrying the persecution of minority Christians in Iraq, Syria and Egypt, urging Christians to be vigilant. Lyston, a biblical economist - whatever that means - blasted the media and human-rights groups for remaining silent on the persecution of Christians, claiming, "Their only focus is 'freedom of sexual choice' - so sexual choice has now taken precedence over religious freedom."

He said:

"In light of what is happening, if the Caribbean believes that Christians are safe in this region, think again! ... If the Caribbean and the other Western nations are not vigilant, very shortly we will see our schools being infiltrated and freedom of choice will be taken away! ... Bibles will be banned and only Qur'ans will be in the schools."

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Discrimination against any group is tragic and inexcusable. This holds true for Muslims in Myanmar who face persecution at the hands of a majority Buddhist population; the Roma, a minority ethnic group who face displacement in parts of Europe; Christians and Buddhists, who face criminal sanctions for organising or preaching in North Korea - considered a threat to 'North Korean values'; and the LGBT community in Jamaica who live under discriminatory colonial laws. When there is a clash of values, only a system of universal human rights can limit the capacity for abuse.


Christian advocates such as Lyston and those who gathered in Kingston to protest a loss of religious rights cannot, in one breath, decry the discrimination against Christians in minority settings and then, in another breath, advocate that Christian majority status gives them the right to call the shots in Jamaica. That is special pleading - having your cake and nyamming it, too.

Also, accepting the ability of differing world views and lifestyles to exist does not equate to support or endorsement for them. It simply recognises that diverse interests can coexist without 'the majority using criminal code to suppress others - even if they find each other absolutely disgusting.

Because such a system, when normalised, poses an inherent risk of injustice, and because no society is perfectly homogeneous across religious, ethnic and sexual lines, a secular, human rights approach to navigating differences is necessary.

The religious lobby is correct; LGBT rights must never stifle freedom of speech of Christians. In the same way, religious freedom cannot infringe upon the sexual rights and the right to privacy of LGBT people. We cannot become so entrenched in our positions that we become polarised.

When the only thing that (usually bickering) Christian denominations can find to unite around is the fight against 'the gay lobby', our priorities are warped. This national paranoia has led to division, when engagement and discourse are needed.

Let's re-evaluate the type of political system we desire - one that will protect, not subordinate, the interests of all.

Rodje Malcolm is a director of Jamaicans for Justice(JFJ. The views above do not necessarily reflect those of JFJ. Email:


also see:
Don't Mix Religion With Politics & The Ugandan Antigay Law Overturn

Ian Boyne on "Do Gays Threaten Free Speech?"

Monday, August 4, 2014

We're not lesbians - Stylysh clarifies song with Ishawna .......... And So What if They Were?

Dancehall artiste Stylysh has denied that her song 'Secret Lovers', which features Ishawna, is intended to be a pro-lesbian record.

According to the deejay, critics have misunderstood her concept and have drawn the conclusion that she and Ishawna were serenading each other.

"The song is for anybody who has a secret lover, and it clearly did not state a gender. It's not a lesbian song. I was vibing the concept, and I thought Ishawna was the best person to collaborate with; no lesbian thing," Stylysh said.

Stylysh admitted that the wording to the lyrics can be misleading, but was adamant that her intentions were pure.

"I think people are drawing that conclusion because we are two females, and the way wi a flow di lyrics. is when I upload the song on YouTube, and people start comment sey it sound like we are singing to each other, mi realise sey it can be misleading, but the truth is that wasn't intended. I was talking about my secret lovers and she was talking about hers. But I guess because the world is changing so much, people are reading into everything they listen to," Stylysh said.

Secret Lovers was produced by Hitmaker Music productions. The ladies are aiming to film a music video for the song in coming weeks. Stylysh also says the promotional flyer, which shows her hugging Ishawna from behind, is an innocent photo.

"Girls hug all the time, and that nothing to read into". She said. Ishawna recently ended her relationship with DJ Foota Hype.

Fresh off her successful live band show at The Gentry, Stylysh is turning her attention towards the promotion of her music video for Gypsy, the single released on the Punjabi rhythm for UIM Records.

"The feedback on Gypsy has been very good on the streets; a lot of disc jockeys are playing it,"

She will be releasing If Mi Man A Gimme Bun for Seanizzle Records this month. Other upcoming projects include songs for Chase Mills and UIM records.

Known for her breakout hit, Mi A Wife, for So Unique Records two years ago, Stylysh has continued to hone her craft one stage show at a time. She has forged links with indie label Guzu Musiq and done several singles with Tommy Lee.

The matter was first reported on ZIP 103FM from as early as July 29th but it never really took off until recently but so what if they were, the song has been getting some promotion on the sex club scene in my area in St Catherine as strippers use it to make that buck and entertain all too eager males who find lesbian typed shows all too exciting. Lest we forget Diana King is now out and lesbianism doe snot get the kind of flack or resistance as male homosexuality does.

I hope though that this denial is not a public relations stunt to promote the song only for it to be true that would not help anyone in the end.

Peace and tolerance


Former 'ex-gay' leaders publish open letter saying conversion therapy is damaging

Firstly I hope the folks at Jamaica CAUSE, Lawyers' Christian Fellowship and Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society are reading this or have heard the news, sensible persons have now realized that this business of conversion is a misnomer instead they insist on carrying out their brand of it locally while creating mass hysteria on maintaining an old buggery law while preying on the public's ignorance. They also intend as espoused in a press conference some time ago to block any attempt to make discrimination due to sexual orientation become so in the Charter of Rights or any other law of such, so much for true tolerance and embracing the outcast as it were. Now comes this news:

Source Christian Today

Some former leaders of the so-called ex-gay movement, that believes that change in sexual orientation can be brought about through faith, have come out in opposition to the controversial conversion therapy, acknowledging the "terrible" emotional and spiritual damage it can do.

They include Jeremy Marks, founder of Courage UK, which was an ex-gay ministry but is now a pro-gay evangelical movement re-christened Two:23 Network.

Other signatories include Michael Bussee, Brad Allen and Yvette Cantu Schneider, of Exodus International, the ex-gay organisation that ceased its activities in June last year and apologised to LGBT people for the harm it had done.

In their open letter, published on the website of the National Center for Lesbian Rights in the US, they explain that conversion therapy, also known as "reparative therapy", "ex-gay therapy," or "sexual orientation change efforts", professes to help lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people to change or overcome their sexual orientation or gender identity. They say that majority of those who practise this "therapy" often do so with little or no formal psychological training, operating instead from a strict religious perspective, believing homosexuality to be a sin.

"At one time, we were not only deeply involved in these 'ex-gay' programs, we were the founders, the leaders, and the promoters," they continue. Together they represent more than half a century of experience. They say that few can be more knowledgeable about the "ineffectiveness and harm" of conversion therapy.

"We know first-hand the terrible emotional and spiritual damage it can cause, especially for LGBT youth. We once believed that there was something morally wrong and psychologically 'broken' about being LGBT. We know better now. We once believed that sexual orientation or gender identity were somehow chosen or could be changed. We know better now. We once thought it was impossible to embrace our sexual orientation or sexual identity as an intrinsic, healthy part of who we are and who we were created to be. We know better now."

They explain that they were simply teaching what they had been taught, that their identity needed mending. "We grew up being told that being LGBT was disordered, sick, mentally ill, sinful, and displeasing to God. We grew up being told that loving, same-sex relationships were shallow, lust-driven, deceived, disordered, and impossible."

Condemning conversion therapy as "ineffective and harmful", the leaders say they are now aligning themselves with every major mainstream professional medical and mental health organisation in denouncing attempts to change sexual orientation or gender identity. "We beseech the church to accept, embrace, and affirm LGBT persons with full equality and inclusion."

Mr Marks told Christian Today that in 1965, at the age of 13 when he first began to be aware of feelings that he was attracted to the same sex, there was no doubt in his mind that this was a terrible thing. "As a young man growing into puberty, I felt a deep sickening paralysing fear over my sexuality. I definitely did NOT want to be gay. So for at least the next 40 years of my life, I made every conceivable effort not to be."

This meant being born again, Christian discipleship and the way of the cross – crucifying the flesh. Hence he founded Courage in 1988, with the full backing of his local church.

"It took us about nine years to realise that all our efforts weren't achieving anything other than disillusionment with the process and disappointment with the long term results. But to change our theology to accommodate same-sex partnerships was absolutely out of the question. It took a further four years to realise that to doggedly pursue the same path was doing far more harm than good. It was not until about 1999 that I finally realised we must have got something terribly wrong and needed to start accepting loving committed same-sex partnerships – the only healthy viable way forwards that was demonstrating good fruit."

When he published his conclusions in 2000 he was expelled from Exodus International, his membership of the Evangelical Alliance was withdrawn, and, he says, was welcomed nowhere among the churches that had been his community since 1973 when he gave his life to Christ.

"Since then, gradually, I have been vindicated. Today I am proud to stand united with many fellow gay Christians and ex-ex-gay Christian leaders who have walked that same tortuous journey towards discovering that God simply makes some of us differently."

Tracey Byrne, chief executive of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement, welcomed the letter. "While the letter claims it's not an apology, it's hard not to be struck by the humility of the writers and by their powerful witness to the heartbreaking reality of these discredited and damaging programmes," she said. But she said there could be no cause for complacency. "Our mainstream churches, whenever they deny the identities, relationships and ministries of gay and lesbian people, wherever they demand celibacy or tell us were not quite what God had in mind, are playing into exactly the same culture which made reparative therapy, 'ex-gay' ministries, seem respectable and sensible responses."

Rev Sally Hitchiner, founder of Diverse Church, a movement for young LGBT people, said: "We are happy to read that so many respected Christian leaders have realised that trying to change someone's sexual orientation is neither safe nor effective. Many young people in our movement experienced prayer and counselling to change their sexual orientation and have suffered serious consequences for their mental health and relationships with church and family members who encouraged this. When it hasn't worked it has left the young people feeling they have to give up on God or sometimes even life. Whatever we may believe about gay relationships, accepting our young people as they are and looking for how God might want to use this for the wider church enables them to live a hope filled life with Jesus at the centre."

also see: Discredited ‘Ex-Gay’ Therapy Group, NARTH, Undergoes Major Rebranding Effort

Haiti, The Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination & related forms of Intolerance, other countries cowardice

By Tiffany Barry

Tiffany Barry is the Social Change Coordinator at the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD), based in Georgetown, Guyana.

The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen passed by France’s National Constituent Assembly in 1789 is one of the cornerstone documents in the history of human rights. It is the philosophy of this document declaring in essence that all people are created free and equal and have the right to life, liberty, and free will which guided the Haitian revolutionaries as they held steadfast to this ideology which eventually led to the creation of the first black state in the Western hemisphere, Haiti, on January 1, 1804.

In the history of the Caribbean, Haiti has always been viewed as an inspiration and example, a leader despite its struggles, whose resilience as a nation and as a people continues to shine bright. Haiti continues to lead the way for its Caribbean counterparts as it prepares to host the 2015 General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) for the second time in 20 years. On June 25 of this year, Haiti also broke new ground, becoming the first Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member state to sign the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and related forms of Intolerance and the Inter-American Convention against all forms of Discrimination, without any reservations.

The signing of these two conventions are monumental because Haiti has once again shown leadership in the pursuit of ensuring the protection of the human rights of all its citizens, and signalling to all other Caribbean states that they are prepared to address the issues which may be seen as taboo and to take a stand for what is right and just. The only other Caribbean country to have signed on to any of the conventions is Antigua and Barbuda which only signed the Inter-American Agreement against Racism, Racial Discrimination and related forms of Intolerance in 2013.

By acceding to both human rights treaties, Haiti is signalling that the state is committed to protecting the rights of all its citizens from violence and discrimination based on age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, language, religion, cultural identity, political opinions, social origin, socio-economic status, educational level, disability, genetic trait, mental or physical health condition.

To date, no other Caribbean state has signed these conventions. Rather, some have all footnoted their reservations to the 2014 Resolution on “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity and Expression” – a resolution which condemns all forms of discrimination, acts of violence and human rights violations based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. This is because in these Caribbean states, there are still laws maintained from the colonial era that criminalise same-sex activities between consenting adults in private, and in the peculiar case of Guyana, cross-dressing.

Recognising that all persons are entitled to the protection of their human rights regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity is an important step in protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people from human rights violations, and allows the community to live with dignity, without fear of targeted violence and discrimination which oftentimes results in them becoming a marginalized, vulnerable and impoverished group. President of Guyana, Donald Ramotar recently indicated that his administration will not demonstrate leadership in the protection of its LGBT citizens by removing laws which criminalise them because the majority of its citizens are not “ready” to recognise the human rights of LGBTI Guyanese. But world history teaches us that people are often never ready for progressive change. The world was not prepared for the signing of the Declaration on the Rights of Man, yet it was signed; the majority of the British and American public were not in favour of the Emancipation Declaration, yet it was delivered.

The OAS has over the years taken measures to ensure that the rights of LGBTI citizens throughout the hemisphere are recognized and protected and that discussions pertaining to the development of the region do not exclude the region’s sexual and gender minorities. This year’s OAS General Assembly amply themed “Development with Social Inclusion” held in Asuncion, Paraguay, in June, was an ample opportunity for our Caribbean leaders to show leadership and to break away from many of the old ideologies imposed upon us during the colonial era by proving that they are committed to inclusive development – development of and for all people – which is not possible if all its citizens are not provided with an equal platform to contribute to the development of the Americas.

Instead, many foreign ministers while being open to discussing the issues affecting its LGBTI citizens, and acknowledging that they should not suffer discrimination, fell short of demonstrating leadership to ensure that these sentiments become a reality. The resolution on “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity and Expression” requires member states to eliminate barriers to equal access for LGBT persons with regards to political participation and other areas of public life as well as eliminate interference in their private lives; adopt public policies against discrimination that help prevent violence against LGBTI persons and ensure equal judicial protections for the victims of violence motivated by sexual orientation and/or gender identity; research and publish statistics on violence motivated by homophobia and transphobia; ensure adequate protection for human rights defenders; and ensure adequate protection for intersex people and to implement policies and procedures, as appropriate, to ensure the conformity of medical practices with recognized human rights standards. The resolution was passed with a record number of reservations by some Caribbean states namely: Guyana, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Jamaica and Suriname.

The overarching sentiments for footnoting there reservations to this resolution were that the concepts of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression are not understood within these Caribbean states and that these nations embrace, or are “consulting” on, punitive laws, which therefore prohibits their endorsement of the resolution which commits states to take actions against violence and discrimination.

Participating in this year’s General Assembly provided an opportunity for SASOD to engage Caribbean foreign ministers and ambassadors to the OAS on issues hindering the advancement of human rights protection for LGBTI persons. Many of them were quite open to dialogue; in fact, the Foreign Minister of St. Lucia made it a priority to speak with civil society representatives from her country working for the protection of LGBTI persons there. The Foreign Minister of Belize approached our Caribbean contingent and engaged us in an hour-long conversation about the struggles of the region to recognize LGBTI citizens as equal and deserving of recognition and protection. In fact he included two other dignitaries from the Belizean delegation in the conversation to show that they are open to discussing the LGBTI issues. I was unable to engage the Guyanese delegation in any formal discussion. Guyana is pushing for Ambassador Bayney Karran to become OAS Assistant Secretary General when the post becomes vacant next year. But he is up against another Caribbean contender, Belize’s US Ambassador, Nestor Menez. LGBTI issues have become very prominent on the OAS agenda in the last seven years with annual resolutions on “Human Rights, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity” being passed by the General Assembly since 2008. This year, Commissioner Tracy Robinson from Jamaica, who is also the Rapporteur on the Rights of LGBTI Persons, became the Chair of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. It would also be smart foreign policy for Guyana to be more open to dialogue on meaningful support – not just lip service – to LGBTI issues, both at home and at the OAS.

Today, political leaders of so-called independent states in the Caribbean continue to hold steadfast to some laws imposed upon us under colonialism. This contradiction begs several questions: Why are the minds of supposedly free people still being controlled by colonial ideology? Why are they so afraid to extend the fundamental principles that our foreparents fought so hard for to all our citizens? The time has come for all free men and women to release the shackles of mental slavery and to realize that as a region we will not develop fully if we keep excluding sections of our populations. The enjoyment of civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights should be extended to all Caribbean citizens, including sexual and gender minorities.

Guyanese President Ramotar also stated that he does not discriminate against persons based on their sexual orientation and gender identity. Other government ministers have also publicly expressed similar sentiments. However, the reason they are in office is to lead. They have an important role to play in creating, amending and repealing laws. Good, people-centred laws are created to protect citizens and promote equality. Why then is it so difficult to create laws that protect our LGBTI citizens? It is one thing to say “I am not homophobic” but it takes more than words to make this meaningful for LGBTI Guyanese. As the saying goes, talk is cheap.

As Guyana and the rest of the region begin to engage in post 2015 discussions as the way forward from the soon to be expired Millennium Development Goals in 2015, it should be noted that all talks about sustainable development will have to deal with how we include all citizens regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, socio-economic background, religion and other grounds. The 2014 OAS General Assembly on “Development with Social Inclusion” was clear that the region needs to adopt a rights-based approach to development. We cannot speak about eradicating poverty and promoting economic and social development if we continue to oppress segments of our population. By doing this we are demonstrating an unequal approach to poverty reduction and development. Moreover, in order to ensure the equal distribution of socio-economic development, we have to address causes of inequality, discrimination, violence and poverty. A good place to start is to address laws, policies and practices, which are discriminatory, and lead to the marginalization of our minority groups.

If we are free people capable of independent, rational thought, we would realize that holding on to oppressive laws and practices are counterproductive to our development. It is time for free people to emancipate our minds and reject all forms of oppression. This is what Haiti is doing by adopting the most inclusive human rights treaties, and ending institutional discrimination in law and policy.


Sunday, August 3, 2014

Ian Boyne on "Do Gays Threaten Free Speech?"

Another decent article from veteran journalist and theologian Ian Boyne at least some reasoning is coming through despite the hysteria from other religious fanatics. Similar to last week's article he examines the present realities especially the perception of stifling of free speech in relation to those who "oppose homosexuality" as it were.

also see: War Over Buggery Law from Gay Jamaica Watch and antigay voice Shirley Richards' response: Can You Stop The Bolting Horse, Mr Boyne?

Ian Boyne

This debate on homosexuality is so polarised and politicised that there is diminished space for reason. It's largely a dialogue of the deaf. There is hardly any genuine desire for dialogue. It's easier to attack, accuse, malign, distort and rock back on old prejudices and stereotypes.

For those who are still capable of thinking rationally on this issue, perhaps a few points can be made. The first prerequisite for any dialogue is understanding the various points of view. There are some gay people who can't understand why Shirley Richards and Wayne West are constantly talking about the threats of the gay lobby. They see their talk as sheer hysteria-mongering. These persons ask how are gay people any threat to as Christians.

One online writer responded to my piece last week by saying: "While the Bible categorically condemns homosexuality (with many other things), their simple position on the matter should be: Christians are separate from the world, therefore they have no authority to set standards for the world outside the Christian congregation. Just as they benefit from laws set by Government to allow them freedom of worship, they should not interfere with whatever law the Government may grant to others with whom they are scripturally displeased. Their only concern should be to make sure those they accept as members of their churches are not people practising things the Bible condemns (homosexuality being one of them)."

Well, that's the first major misunderstanding. Once the State passes non-discrimination laws, religious institutions can't exempt themselves. There is increasing rejection of any religious exceptionalism. There was, indeed, an earlier period when the US courts, for example, were sympathetic to religious exceptionalism, but that has been coming under increasing pressure. President Obama just signed an executive order last month prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in federal hiring that might have implications for religious institutions.


This 'live-and-let-live' view that some moderates hold might not apply if some gay-rights activists have their way. There are some who hold that just as religious organisations should not be accorded the right to discriminate on race, they shouldn't have the right to discriminate on sexual orientation.

So just as how it would be abominable for any church to openly declare it would never appoint a black man as a minister or a bishop, so some believe the Church should not have the right to declare that it won't hire an openly gay minister or bishop. When gay rights are framed as human rights, and when discrimination against gays is equated with discrimination against black people, it's hard to maintain any religious exceptionalism.

So my online respondent's view that Christians should just concern themselves with setting standards for their members is naïve.

If some gays have their way with legislation, Christians won't be able to live their lives based on their understanding of Scripture. This is not outrage-mongering. And it is a fact that on many university campuses (of all places) in North America, hate-speech codes are so restrictive that even mild criticism of homosexuality is banned. In Scandinavia, political correctness vis-á-vis homosexuality has reached absurd proportions, and in Britain, there have been scandalous violations of people's free-speech rights as well as their right to practise their religious convictions. Shirley Richards and Wayne West have not been manufacturing these cases.

If you think conservative Christians who fear the squelching of their rights are just fearmongers, note the British House of Lords and House of Commons Human Rights report a few years ago titled Legislative Scrutiny: Sexual Orientation Regulations. It says explicitly that for even private religious schools: "We do not consider that the right to freedom of conscience and religion requires the school curriculum to be exempted from the scope of sexual orientation regulations." It is saying schools should not be free to teach homosexuality is a sin or is abnormal.

"In our view, the regulations prohibiting sexual-orientation discrimination should clearly apply to the curriculum, so homosexual pupils are not subjected to teaching as part of the religious education or other curriculum that their sexual orientation is sinful or morally wrong." Now if this is not an attack on freedom of religion, I don't know what is.

If conservative Christians are not free to teach in their own schools their views on homosexuality - however misguided or wrong-headed the State might think - their free speech is severely compromised.


If I were a gay man, I would not, as a free-speech libertarian, care one heck if people want to teach in schools, churches, media and on the streets that my behaviour is abominable and worthy of a lifetime in hellfire. If people want to take out ads and run public campaigns against my lifestyle, I might deplore it, but as someone committed to liberal democracy, I would do nothing to impair the right of those persons.

Yes, it's stigmatisation, but so what? A liberal democracy has to tolerate such messiness. This desire to sanitise everything is what leads to autocracy.

I believe that too many people on both sides of this propaganda war - gays and Christians - are deeply hostile to liberal democratic values. There are Christians who want to impose their religious dogmas on the whole society, adapting a Christian Shari'a. Left to them, they would ban Sunday racing, carnival, casino gambling and all forms of gambling, drinking and they would close down all exotic clubs. They don't hold that Christians are exiles. Rather they are theonomists who feel Christians must impose the Kingdom on the heathens now. I believe in a pluralistic democracy; people have a right to resist this.

We need a new, fresh discourse on this Christian-gay debate. It's time for rational voices like those of gay-rights advocate Brian-Paul Welsh to emerge. I have corresponded with him and I have found him to be eminently reasonable, charitable, conciliatory, gracious and humble. The arrogance of so many gay people repels me. It's one thing to have contempt for religion and for "silly, Stone Age religious dogmas", as the enlightened gaytheists would put it.

I am not offended if you think I hold preposterous ideas. I can understand if you have contempt for my ideas. But you should not have contempt for me because I am brainwashed.

There is an excellent article on the Christianity Today website (July 16, 2014) titled 'Religious Freedom vs LGBT rights? It's more complicated'. The author calls for a reframing of this dialogue. He tells Christians that, increasingly, people are abandoning the idea of religious exceptionalism. They are also having less regard for religious liberty. They don't see why Christians should have the right to discriminate against women and gays in religious appointments and they don't be believe Christians should be exempt from discrimination laws.

As Christian intellectuals, we have to fight our battles on the ground of pluralism, not religious exceptionalism. "The pluralist argument is not clothed in the language of religious liberty, but extends to religious groups and institutions ... - the idea that in a society that lacks a shared vision of a deeply held common good, we can and must live with deep difference among groups and their beliefs, values and identities."

He goes on to say: "More pointed, every one of us holds beliefs that others find morally reprehensible. Pluralism rests on three interrelated aspirations: Tolerance, humility and patience. Tolerance means a willingness to accept genuine difference, including profound moral difference." Tolerance permits differences to coexist.

Significantly, he says, "Pluralism does not impose the fiction of assuming that all ideas are equally valid or morally benign. It does mean respecting people and allowing for the right to differ among serious matters." And I end by reminding both the Christian and gay-rights Taliban that "patience reminds us that the best means to a better end is through persuasion and dialogue, not coercion and bullying".

Ian Boyne is a veteran journalist working with the Jamaica Information Service. Email feedback to and


Also see:
A Response to a Gleaner Commentary: 'CAUSE' Editorials And The Culture War

The False Dichotomy of the religious right on the LGBT advocacy Godlessness

Blakka Ellis on "Jamaica a christian country?"

Atheism, Secularism and Buggery . 2012

Letters & Opinions: Anti-gay Christians threaten free speech ............Christian Ethics And The UTech Beating 2012

Lawyers' Christian Fellowship's Shirley Richards says lesbian sex should be criminalized as buggery

Shirley Richards & The Jamaican UK Foster Parents (The Johns) on Love 101 FM ............. on buggery

Ian Boyne on ....... Storm Brewing Over Gay Ad 2011

The elephant is the room (Pt 1) subscription to the Gleaner may be required

Let the dialogue continue.

Peace and tolerance


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