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Bisexual Asylum Seeker Avoids Deportation To Jamaica - VIDEO

Oraisha edwards

Orashia Edwards, a bisexual Jamaican man who says he faces danger in his native country because of his sexuality, learned on Tuesday that he will not be deported from the U.K.

Homophobia remains a major issue in Jamaican society.

The case for a judicial review of Home Secretary Theresa May's decision was thrown out by a judge in Leeds.

In his written judgement, Judge Clive Heaton QC said that Edwards was being dishonest about his sexuality.

According to Pink News, Edwards has been living in the U.K. for four years along with the rest of his family. He has a one-year-old daughter. Mr Edwards has not been in Jamaica for 14 years.

Speaking to the BBC after the verdict, Edwards said:

"This is my home, I feel safe here, my family and friends are here. I can't go back to Jamaica."

In a press release, activist organization Leeds For Change, which has claimed Home Office decisions behind asylum are prejudiced against LGBT applicants, said it “won’t stop fighting for Orashia to stay here in Leeds with us, his family and the LGBT community. An application to the European Court of Human Rights on behalf of Orashia will be issued shortly.”

All claims of bias in asylum applications have been denied by the government.

Edwards learned Tuesday that he will now not be deported from the U.K. A spokesperson from the Home Office refused to comment on the change in its decision.

Edwards is today in court submitting new evidence.

Watch State Of Limbo, a short documentary about the Edwards case, and a follow-up interview prior to the hearing, AFTER THE JUMP...

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25,000 Jamaicans March In Opposition To The ‘Gay Agenda’ - VIDEO

Anti-gay march in jamaica

On June 28, when cities across the world were celebrating Pride, an estimated 25,000 Jamaicans took part in a rally in Kingston to stop the “gay agenda,” according to The Jamaica Observer.

Jamaica has a history of violence against it's LGBTI citizens.

A coalition of church groups organized the rally to address their opposition to “the homosexual agenda” and what they claim is a growing threat to fundamental rights and freedoms.

The umbrella group CAUSE (Churches Action Uniting Society for Emancipation) was set up following the removal of Professor Brendan Bain as Director of the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Regional Training Network at the University of the West Indies. Bain’s removal came after claims by gay and human rights activists that he had lost the confidence of the community that the programme was established to serve.

According to the Jamaica Observer, rally chairman Alvin Bailey said:

"We will do all that is righteous and godly to accomplish the cause. Our emancipation means standing up for strong families, our emancipation means standing against the homosexuality agenda, emancipation for us means standing up against the repealing of the buggery law.”

Writing anonymously on 76Crimes, a Canadian-based Jamaican activist said:

"I know that in Jamaica, as in other countries that have successfully addressed this issue, love will speak louder than hate. However, as I march in the streets of Toronto with my inclusive church community, I will sadly reflect on the needless pain that blind evangelical religious ideology has inflicted on my “One Love” island. I pray that the voices of tolerant religious leaders will be amplified in my beloved homeland. Until then, I march, and speak, for those who cannot, even though my doing so is often tinged with sadness."

Watch a Jamaican television report about a homophobic gang attack on a gay man last month, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Jamaican Court Allows Gay Youth To Continue Living In Sewers: VIDEO

Gay Jamaican Youth In Sewers

Jamaica has the distinction of being a country that is particularly hostile to gays, thanks in no small part to U.S. evangelical speakers attempts to sow hatred there. The fallout of the hostility includes GLBT youth being forced into the sewers, having nowhere else to go after being kicked out by families and suffering abuse in shelters.

On Ash Wednesday, police in New Kingston forcibly evicted a gay youth encampment from the sewers. An abandoned building they had previously settled in was torn down and a gully encampment was burned down on the pretext that the encampment "attracted criminals," so many of them resisted as they had nowhere else to go.

When taken to court, the judge fined them for swearing, but told the arresting officers that the sewers are a public space and the youth have a right to be there. Once released, the youth returned to living in the sewers.

You can watch a video report on the encampment AFTER THE JUMP...

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Jamaican Artist Banned From STING Concert Series For Homophobic Remarks: VIDEO

Sizzla Kalonji

Jamaican reggae artist Sizzla Kalonji may have figured he was playing for a sympathetic crowd during STING 30, Jamaica's annual reggae show, when he included in his performance multiple songs about his hatred for the gays as he sashayed across the stage, despite being warned beforehand to not include them. However, Isaiah Laing of Supreme Promotions, the largest promotor on the island and parent company of STING, took exception to the performance and has banned Sizzla from performing at STING ever again.

Sizzla is unrepentant and claims that the ban does not bother him in the slightest.

Sizzla's performance, if you can stand it, is AFTER THE JUMP...

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Anti-Gay Wingnut From Massachusetts Speaks In Jamaica, Encourages Preservation Of Sodomy Laws: VIDEO

BriancamenkerBrian Camenker (right), the founder of anti-gay organization MassResistance, spoke before an audience at an event for the Jamaican Coalition for a Healthy Society (JCHS) on December 10th. The Coalition has been fighting to preserve Jamaica's "buggery law" which appeared to be in danger after Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller alluded to a vote for its repeal in 2011. Camenker spoke about Massachusetts' own decriminalization of sodomy and its supposed negative impact on society as a whole. 

BuzzFeed reports:

“I am here to warn you that [repeal of the buggery law] will have terrible consequences,” Camenker said, according to a video of the event uploaded by MassResistance on Saturday. “A law that contradicts God’s law is the beginning of a slippery slope that you cannot imagine.”

Camenker described a series of events that he said flowed from the decriminalization of sodomy in Massachusetts, including the “indoctrination” of children in schools and the suppression of religious people opposed to LGBT rights.

“If you think it can’t get worse, think again,” he said, saying that protections for transgender students in schools were the latest [dictate] from “the radical homosexual movement.” “Students or Teachers who disagree can be punished — it’s madness!”

MassResistance is considered a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and Camenker has previously accused LGBT activists of borrowing techniques from the Nazis and imposing laws reminiscent of Jim Crow segregation.

Flag-jamaica-XLPeter LaBarbera, another anti-gay activist, spoke at a JCHS event on December 7th. The organization's chairman claims that these speakers are meant to engender informed discussion surrounding the issue of sodomy. 

After Camenker’s remarks, JCHS Chairman Wayne West told the audience that the organization was inviting these speakers to Jamaica so that we can have “a truthful discussion about the implications of [repealing the buggery law] so that when the decision is made, no one can say we didn’t know this will happen.”

“We are speaking the truth under the stars before this country; it is being broadcast over the air,” he said. “Our hands will not have the blood of the generations of children who may be living in a country where there is no freedom of speech, no freedom of conscience, and one has to bow and cow-tow to a sexual rights agenda. You have been warned.”

Watch a recording of Camenker's speech, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Janette Jenkins' 'Firefly': Book Review

BY GARTH GREENWELL

This short, beautiful novel takes place over a brief period in 1971, as the British playwright and composer Noël Coward, in the final years of his life, suffers from a weak heart and a slipping mind. Having fled both the gray skies and the high taxes of London, Coward spends his days at his Jamaican estate, Firefly, sunbathing and painting and sharing the occasional dinner or (more often) drinks with friends. But mostly he reminisces, increasingly disoriented as he slips between his diminished present and his glorious past. 

FireflyI can think of only a few books (Paul Harding’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Tinkers among them) that evoke so movingly a consciousness adrift in old age. It’s a strategy that allows Jenkins access to Coward’s whole biography, while freeing her from any burden of biographical linearity or exhaustiveness. The book shifts with virtuosic fluency between the bright heat of Jamaica and London’s chill damp, bringing childhood memories, artistic triumphs, and sexual conquests to life with exquisitely curated detail.

We see Noël as a boy, speculating about the lives passing in the houses he can see from his bedroom window, and then, imagining himself being watched in turn, giving “a flick of a bow” as he lets the curtain drop. A little later, after his first sexual encounter, “colliding and laughing” with another boy on the wet rocks by a stream, “he can see a frog springing from the bank side; a splash as it leaps into the water.”

Jenkins’ Coward isn’t always a pleasant character, especially in the present-day scenes. He’s always ready with a withering remark, and he lashes out, at times violently, at the Jamaican servants on whom he depends for the most basic tasks. (When, with great difficulty, he manages to do up his own shirt buttons, “he doesn’t know whether to shout, ‘Hurrah!’ or to burst into tears.”) But he still possesses, at least in snatches, the quick and sometimes cutting wit that fills his plays. “Oh, you know everyone,” one unlucky acquaintance says to him over dinner. “‘No,’ says Noël, ‘Everyone knows me.’”

One of the most moving aspects of Jenkins’ portrait is how clearly she shows that the very wit for which he’s famous has become a prison for Coward, an elaborate armor that no longer enables expression, but prevents it. Coward tosses off stylish witticisms and ironic bons mots with ease, but statements of genuine emotion seem beyond him, even as his inner life throbs with feeling. When asked whether he loves his companion of three decades, Graham Payn, the best Jenkins’ Coward can manage is “We’ve certainly had our moments.”  

Janette-jenkinsPayn and other friends make appearances in these pages, but for the most part Coward has left them behind, retreating to a small studio at some distance from the main house. Here, through most of the book, he’s attended only by Patrice, his Jamaican servant. Twenty-two, desperate to escape Jamaica, excited by the prospect of life as a waiter in London (his dream is to work at the Ritz), Patrice’s chatter and enthusiasm are juxtaposed with the jaded cynicism of Coward, who at the end of a brilliantly accomplished life seems nearly finished with the world and its delights.

It’s the relationship between Coward and Patrice—patient and caretaker, patron and supplicant, master and servant—that provides the emotional center of the novel. Jenkins has made a vivid, caustic, funny, deeply sympathetic portrait of an artist who is finally as limited as he is brilliant. “Hearts aren’t meant to be noticed, they’re just meant to work,” her Coward thinks as he struggles to finish the afternoon walk his doctor has prescribed. As the novel comes to its at once delicate and devastating end, it’s a different working of the heart he can’t ignore.

Previous reviews...
Gengoroh Tagame’s ‘The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame’
Jason K. Friedman’s ‘Fire Year’
David Levithan’s ‘Two Boys Kissing’
Thomas Glave’s ‘Among the Bloodpeople: Politics and Flesh’
 
Garth Greenwell is the author of Mitko, which won the 2010 Miami University Press Novella Prize and was a finalist for both the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award and a Lambda Award. He is currently an Arts Fellow at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop.


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