Jamaica Hub




Former Westboro Baptist Church Member Helps Homeless LGBT Jamaicans

Grace phelps

A former member of listed hate group the Westboro Baptist Church has travelled to Jamaica to work with gay people who have been ostracized by society and made homeless, reports Pink News.

Grace Phelps (pictured above right with sister Megan), the daughter of Westboro Baptist Church spokeswoman Shirley Phelps, went on a trip organized by Planting Peace, a grass roots equality project which runs Equality House with a base opposite the Phelps family church.

Grace and Megan left the hate church last year.

She explained:

Shirley phelps-roper“I spent twenty years learning why God hates gays, preaching that they’re ‘beasts’ and ‘depraved,’ and protesting anyone who dared to speak up for them.

“When I heard about the young people living in Jamaican sewers because their parents kicked them out for being gay, my heart hurt for them.

“I know what that’s like, being rejected by your family for not going along with their beliefs.

“There’s an irony there that I couldn’t ignore: that I share a fate with the very people I was taught to dehumanize so fiercely. I wanted to meet them, to see their plight for myself, and help tell the world their story.”

Planting Peace president Aaron Jackson said:

“Grace and I have become good friends since she left the church, and she jumped at the opportunity to join with Planting Peace and help document the conditions in Jamaica when I told her what was happening there. What we witnessed in the sewers of Kingston was nothing short of horrific.

"We documented acid attacks, stab wounds and even personally witnessed an altercation. The world has made great strides in the fight for equality, but this trip was a sobering reminder of how far we still have to go.”




Jamaican Gay Rights Activists Suspect Prominent Newspaper Of Drumming Up Anti-Gay Sentiment

2000px-Flag_of_Jamaica.svgWith a push for gay rights in Jamaica from government, activist groups and allies, others in the country are doubling down in their anti-gay views. The appalling conditions faced by gays in Jamaica has been well-documented, and VICE has a new story that raises further concern for the situation in the island nation.

The concern comes via The Jamaica Observer, a daily newspaper that has been publishing articles Jamaican activists are calling homophobic.

Though the Observer claims to uphold balanced journalism, a recent article in the paper tells the story of a male jogger gang-raped by homosexuals, but it is unsourced. Also troubling is an anti-gay editorial called  "The pushback against gays has begun," and an article that points to "gun-toting gays" as threatening Jamaican communities. (The sub headline reads "Homo Thugs!")

The Jamaica Observer is owned by Gordon "Butch" Stewart, the owner of Sandals Resorts, which did not allow gay couples until 2004. However, the paper says that the ownership of the Observer does not have influence over what is printed in its pages.

Carolyn Gomes, executive director of the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition, spoke to VICE about the concerns of anti-gay rhetoric, saying:

It has happened at both national newspapers over the years though this year the rhetoric was particularly loaded and hostile to homosexuals, especially in The Jamaica Observer but [another paper,] The Gleaner was also guilty.


Human Rights Watch Documents Abuse Of Gays In Jamaica: VIDEO

Gareth Henry Jamaican LGBT activist

Jamaica is a remarkably homophobic nation with massive opposition to the "gay agenda" that forces gay youth to live in sewers, and even results in murder. The Human Rights Watch has taken notice of the hostilities and violence and put together a short documentary video that explores the island's abuses of and utter governmental apathy towards its gay citizens.

While not graphic or explicit, the video is a little rough emotionally. You can watch it AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Human Rights Watch Documents Abuse Of Gays In Jamaica: VIDEO" »


Jamaican Activist Fears Reprisals, Ends Legal Challenge To Anti-Sodomy Law - VIDEO

Javed Jaghai

A gay rights activist has withdrawn a legal challenge to Jamaica’s anti-sodomy laws after growing fears of violent backlashes, reports WTOP.com.

Last year, Javed Jaghai initiated a constitutional challenge to an 1864 law that bans sex between men.  He argued that the law fuels homophobia and violates a 2011 charter of human rights that guarantees a right to privacy.

Jaghai is the Education and Outreach Officer at the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals & Gays (J-FLAG).

As it stands, the law bans anal sex and sets a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment and hard labor. Anything interpreted as "gross indecency" between men is punishable with two years in prison.

When Jaghai initiated the legal challenge in 2013, several church pastors led crowded revival meetings to oppose overturning the anti-sodomy law.

However, Jaghai has issued a statement saying he is no longer in a position to continue pursuing the case because of fears of a backlash against his family.

Janet Burak of New York-based advocacy group AIDS-Free World said the fear that pushed Jaghai to end his court challenge is "the same fear that keeps gay men in Jamaica underground, away from effective HIV testing, prevention treatment, care and support interventions.”

Although Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller spoke in favor of gay rights in 2012 and has vowed to put the anti-sodomy law to a "conscience vote," there has as yet been no movement in that area.

Watch Jaghai discuss human rights in Jamaica, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Jamaican Activist Fears Reprisals, Ends Legal Challenge To Anti-Sodomy Law - VIDEO" »


Opponents of Same-Sex Marriage March In U.S. Virgin Islands Following Similar Rally in Jamaica

Virginislands2

The Jamaica Gleaner reports on an anti-gay march in St. Thomas in response to a proposed bill that would change the definition of marriage to mean a legal union between two people, regardless of gender.

VirginislandsReferring to a similar march against “the homosexual agenda” in Jamaica in June, Alger Warren, vice-chair of One Voice Virgin Islands (OVVI) and pastor of Faith Christian Fellowship Church Alive in Christ in the USVI, said:

"We applaud the people of Jamaica for coming out and taking a stand. We used the Jamaican march as a catalyst to encourage people to come out, because we said, 'Look, Jamaica got close to 25,000 people to come out in support of the traditional family against same-sex marriage.’ So we did reference the march in Jamaica and continue to reference it, so hopefully, that will inspire people to even come out for our march also."

Harriet Mercer, a member of the petition committee of OVVI, said that the march aimed to send a message to politicians that “like Jamaica, we too are against any kind of buggery being legalised."

Reacting to the news of the USVI march, the Reverend Dr Stevenson Samuels, chairman of Churches Action Uniting Society for Emancipation, the umbrella group responsible for the anti-gay march in Jamaica, said:

"We are extremely elated that other Caribbean countries are standing in support of what we are doing, and it really is just a testimony that there are countries with a large number of persons who have a concern for the well-being of their country. It is not just the US Virgin Islands. There are persons from other countries that have contacted us expressing their support and also their desire of doing something similar. We consider [the USVI] as our brothers in the fight, we consider them as people who really want the best for their country and we are in support of them."

[The Jamaica Gleaner article above mistakenly mentioned the number of attendees at the rally. The post has been updated]

[photo via Facebook]


Vice News' Beautiful, Unsettling Look At Jamaica's LGBT 'Gully Queens' - VIDEO

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While homosexuality is not technically illegal in Jamaica, British colonial anti-buggery laws punish sodomy with a 10-year prison sentences and hard labor. Living as an openly LGBT Jamaican risks police harassment, muggings, violent stabbings, burnings and even death.

In his 25-minute video report with Vice News, reporter Christo Geoghegan says:

“With cultural and religious conservatism rife, being out and proud isn’t exactly an option. While some believe Jamaica’s attitudes to homosexuality are slowly evolving, last year actually saw an increase in homophobic and transphobic violence with attacks often taking place in broad daylight and shared across social media.“

So as a way to protect themselves, homeless LGBT youth near the country’s capital of Kingston have taken to living in a storm drain called “The Gully." Vice News interviewed them and examined whether repealing the country’s buggery law will help reduce the anti-LGBT stigma these youth face on a daily basis.

A conservative evangelical group called the Jamaican Coalition for a Healthy Society states that LGBT people want to repeal the law because “deviant behaviors are now to be considered normal and positive aspects of human sexuality.” Uganda’s Martin “Eat Da Poo Poo” Ssempa used similar rhetoric as a way to de-humanize LGBT people and foment physical revulsion and disgust against their sexual identities.

Rich queens in Jamaica — LGBT people with economic standing — can insulate themselves against the worst forms of homophobia unlike the “poor queens and the scary queens” who must hustle, sell snacks or do sex work to make money.

Local politicians blame the Gully queens and their parents for their own situation, stating that the queens rob people, aren’t fit for employment and never file police reports of violence. But the queens and other LGBT Jamaicans inherently distrust the cops and inactive politicians as complicit players in the country's anti-LGBT culture.

Earlier this year, Kingston-area police burned the Gully queens belongings and tried to run them out, stating that their presence "attracted criminals." But a judge ruled that the queens had every right to live there and so they returned.

Since then, the Gully queens have done their best to form comfortable lives within self-made families while protesting for their right to exist safely  amid an atmosphere of unending hatred and violence against them.

Watch the video AFTER THE JUMP…

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Continue reading "Vice News' Beautiful, Unsettling Look At Jamaica's LGBT 'Gully Queens' - VIDEO" »


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