Jamaica Hub

U.S. LGBT Rights Envoy Randy Berry Plans July Trip To Uganda: VIDEO


The U.S. State Department’s special envoy for LGBT rights is scheduled to visit Uganda in July, reports Buzzfeed.

Openly gay Randy Berry was appointed to the post in February.

The State Department has not provided any details of what Berry hopes to achieve in Uganda.  The draconian "kill the gays" law was struck down in August. However, in March members of the Ugandan Parliament announced plans to reintroduce a similar bill.

Speaking at an event at the Human Rights Campaign on Tuesday, Berry said that he plans to visit more than 15 countries in the next month.

On Tuesday, it was announced that Berry will today visit Jamaica.

Watch a USA Today profile of Berry, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller Defiant In Response To Gay Rights Protesters in NY: VIDEO


Members of LGBT activist group Jamaica Anti-Homophobia Stand interrupted a speech given by Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller at a diaspora meeting in New York last Thursday, reports the Washington Blade.

Portia_Miller_insert_public_domainSimpson-Miller was speaking at St. George’s Episcopal Church in Manhattan. The activists were addressing her government’s lack of response to increasing anti-gay violence in Jamaica. The group also challenged her outside of the church, chanting “Gay rights Portia. Protect Jamaica’s gays.”

According to the Jamaica-Gleaner, Simpson-Miller challenged the protesters from the podium:

“Nobody ever hears the government of Jamaica beating up gays, not one. Let me tell you something - you want to disturb, you can disturb, but this woman came here with the blood of Nanny of the Maroons and the spirit of Marcus Mosiah Garvey, and this woman is not afraid of no man, nowhere, anywhere. And I will speak the truth everywhere.”

A report from the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays (JFLAG) found that at least 30 gay men have been murdered on the island between 1997 and 2004. These include J-FLAG co-founder Brian Williamson who was stabbed to death inside his home in Kingston in 2004.

Jamaica is among the English-speaking countries in the Caribbean in which consensual gay sex remains illegal. Simpson-Miller said shortly before her 2011 election that she intended to review the country’s anti-sodomy law.

Watch a video of last week's confrontation, AFTER THE JUMP...

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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...

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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...

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