Friday, December 26, 2008

LGBT Travelers worst destinations

We’ve covered some of the best places for the gay traveler to go, but what about the worst? What are the places that you should stay away from at all costs?

Here’s our list of some of the worst gay travel destinations in the world.

6. Poland

Ok, so Poland rarely tops vacation destination lists. It does, however, sport such attractions as sculpted salt mines, Warsaw’s historic ghetto and old town, and prime skiing mountains.

Despite the decent number of things to see and do, as well as the fact that it’s very cheap, it’s hardly the best place for an LGBT person to go out and do their thing. Not that there aren’t gay bars, Warsaw and Krakow sport some fine nightspots, but the official atmosphere there is very anti-gay at the moment. Run by a ultra-conservative Catholic regime, Poland has swung far to the right in recent years.

From the anti-gay legislation passed last year to the banning of several prides to the government’s farcical attack on gay teletubbies, Poland’s government, if not all of its people, is doing its best to make sure that gays are not welcome in the country.

5. Jamaica

A great place to be beaten by anti-gay lynch mobs!Jamaica is home to white sandy beaches, reggae and dancehall music, gorgeous natural beauty and murderous anti-gay thugs. Sounds fantastic! Wait, what was that last one again? The Caribbean is hardly the home of LGBT rights, but Jamaica is in a class of its own. Time magazine and several gay rights groups named Jamaica “The Most Homophobic Place in the World” in 2006. It doesn’t help that those reggae and dancehall stars the country is so famous for seem to have a thing for calling upon their listeners to murder gay people, which many of them seem all too willing to do.
Two of the biggest gay and AIDS activists in Jamaica, Brian Williamson and Steve Harvey, were murdered in the past few years. A crowd danced and celebrated around Williamson’s mutilated body afterwards. In 2004, a teenager whose father found he was gay invited a lynch mob to the boy’s school and nearly killed him. Mob violence against gays in the country is at epidemic levels, and it’s hardly limited to Jamaicans themselves.

In 2006 two American television producers working in the island were beaten into a coma by an anti-gay mob. If you absolutely must visit the Caribbean try Curacao or the US Virgin Islands, all of which target gay travelers. Give Jamaica a miss.

4. Egypt

Who wouldn’t want to go to Egypt? It’s got the relics of the most advanced civilization in ancient times, the Pyramids, the Nile and of course Cairo. Plus you can really get that authentic Egyptian experience by getting arrested and thrown in jail for being a homosexual. Bonus points and extra jail time if you’re HIV+! Unless jail, after a beating from the notoriously violent local police force of course, sounds like fun for the whole family for you then it’d be best to keep as far away as possible from Egypt as you can. The US State department has issued several official warnings about gay tourists traveling to the country –as they have about all the countries on this list incidentally- and Egypt has been busy recently tossing HIV+ citizens in jail with only the merest hint of a trial for the past few months. It’s ok though, several years in jail oughta teach them not to get AIDS or be gay. As every prison movie tells us, jail is the best place to go to avoid any type of homosexuality. That and the Navy. All kidding aside, do not go around announcing your sexuality in Egypt. Yes, there are gay bars in Cairo. That does not mean homosexuality is tolerated. Be very careful.
3. Uganda/Nigeria/Gambia
Gambian President Yahya Jammeh wants you dead if you are reading this.

Uganda, Nigeria and Gambia are our joint sub-Saharan African winners. They’ve all got that special anti-gay quality about them, but it’s just too hard to pick just one to stay away from at the moment. On the one hand, you have Gambia’s president announcing his intentions to kill all gay people, followed by the arrest of several gay tourists shortly afterwards. On the other hand, you have Nigeria and Uganda’s official churches promoting lynch mobs against homosexuals in the country and banning gay marriage. It’s a tough decision I know, but I think you can make the right one and just stay out of all of these countries for the moment.

2. United Arab Emirates

The UAE will here stand in as a representative for the Arab countries that you should never ever visit ever. They probably won’t kill you if you're a foreigner-from an allied country at least-that’s the good news. However, much like good buddy Saudi Arabia, homosexuality is illegal in the UAE and they are really touchy about it. In 2005 the US State Department named the UAE in its anti-gay document for arresting 26 people, then subjecting them to hormone treatments in an attempt to change their sexuality and make them straight. I can only imagine what they might try on a transgender traveler. If you must visit the Middle East try Israel, where their anti-gay feeling is generally confined to protests and shouting, rather than whips, beatings, and the occasional beheading.

1. Iran

These two teens were hung for being homosexual in Iran.Unlike the UAE, I cannot suggest that Iran will not kill you if you are arrested for practicing homosexuality within its borders. It’s certainly not shy about executing its own citizens for being gay, and these days it shows less and less concern about the outside world’s opinions. It’s a dangerous combination, and hardly makes for an ideal holiday. It’s too bad too, as Iran has some fantastic history and architecture that really would make for a fantastic journey.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas form OUTWEEKLY

OUTWEEKLY wishes you and your family a Merry Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year, we thank you for choosing OUTWEEKLY as your number one (1) site for LGBT New and Entertainment in Jamaica.

We look forward in serving you in the years 2009.


"Together we stand divided we fall;"

Also log on to see the Chairman Message for the year 2009.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Pope Benedict- "Homosexuality is a threat to humanity."

The head of the Roman Catholic Church has claimed that the existence of gay people is as great a threat to humanity as the destruction of the rainforest.
Pope Benedict XVI also attacked transgender people and claimed that a "blurring" of genders would lead to the extinction of the human race.
The pontiff made his remarks in an "end of year" address to the Vatican's central administration, the Curia.

The Pope said behaviour beyond traditional heterosexual relations is "a destruction of God's work."
Benedict also said man must be protected "from the destruction of himself" and urged respect for the "nature of the human being as man and woman."
"The tropical forests do deserve our protection. But man, as a creature, does not deserve any less."

The Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement was outraged at this latest Papal outburst.
"It is comments like this that justify homophobic bullying that goes on in schools and it is comments like this that justify gay bashing," said LGCM chief executive Rev Sharon Ferguson.
"There are still so many instances of people being killed around the world, including in western society, purely and simply because of their sexual orientation or their gender identity.
"When you have religious leaders like that making that sort of statement then followers feel they are justified in behaving in an aggressive and violent way because they feel that they are doing God's work in ridding the world of these people."
The UK based gay humanist charity the Pink Triangle Trust has described the Pope's statement as clear evidence of paranoia.

"This must be the most ourtrageous and bizarre claim yet made by the Pope who has already got a well-deserved reputation as one the most viciously homophobic world leaders on a par with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran and Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe," said PTT secretary and trustee George Broadhead.

"The Vatican has already reinforced its anti-gay reputation by strongly opposing a UN declaration calling for an end to discrimination against gays, but this latest Papal outburst is clear evidence of an obsession about homosexuality which is tantamount to paranoia."
Last week the Vatican opposed a statement at the United Nations reiterating the universal human rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual or trans people.

According to Roman Catholics, gay people are disordered and called to a life of celibacy.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

66 and counting

Yesterday a statement was read at the United Nations General Assembly in New York reiterating the universal human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people.
66 nations signed the joint statement, among them all 27 EU member states.
South Africa and the United States of America did not support the initiative.
The statement, which was a French initiative, was read out by Argentina's Ambassador the UN.
It does not create new rights and is not legally binding but instead builds on similar past initiatives.
It affirms the principle of universality: that all human beings, irrespective of their sexual orientation or gender identity, are entitled to equal dignity and respect.
No-one should be subject to violence, harassment, discrimination or abuse, solely because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
Louis Georges Tin, the founder of the Inernational Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO), is behind the universal decriminalisation declaration.
He met with Rama Yade, France's minister of human rights and foreign affairs, earlier this year.
In September she confirmed that she would appeal at the United Nations for the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality. The statement quickly became an international effort.
A cross-regional group of states coordinated the drafting, including Brazil, Croatia, France, Gabon, Japan, the Netherlands, and Norway.
The statement condemned killings, torture, arbitrary arrest, and "deprivation of economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to health."
The participating countries urged all nations to "promote and protect human rights of all persons, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity," and to end all criminal penalties against people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.
According to calculations by ILGA (the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Association) and other organisations, more than six dozen countries still have laws against consensual sex between adults of the same sex.
The UN Human Rights Committee, which interprets the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), a core UN treaty, held in a historic 1994 decision that such laws are rights violations – and that human rights law forbids discrimination based on sexual orientation.
In 2006 IDAHO initiated a global campaign to end the criminalisation of same-sex relationships and secured the support of dozens of international public figures, ranging from Nobel Prize winners to writers, clergy,actors, musicans and academics.
"To decriminalise homosexuality worldwide is a battle for human rights," Mr Tin said.
"IDAHO has worked hard for two years to promote this issue. For us, the UN statement is a great achievement.
"I want to thank the many other people and organisations who have worked with us since the beginning, and more recently. I also want to remind everyone that ending the criminalisation of same-sex love will be a long, hard battle. To love is not a crime."
The 66 countries that signed the joint UN statement for LGBT human rights are:
Albania, Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria
Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria
Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic
Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Guinea-Bissau
Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg
Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Montenegro, Nepal, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway
Paraguay, Poland, Portugal, Romania
San Marino, Sao Tome and Principe, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland
The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Timor-Leste, the United Kingdom, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
UK-based gay rights activist Peter Tatchell said:
"This was history in the making. Totally ground-breaking. It is the first time that the UN General Assembly has been presented with a statement in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT)human rights.
"Securing this statement at the UN is the result of an inspiring collective global effort by many LGBT and human rights organisations. Our collaboration, unity and solidarity have won us this success."
"As well as IDAHO, I pay tribute to the contribution and lobbying of Amnesty International; ARC International; Center for Women's Global Leadership; COC Netherlands; Global Rights; Human Rights Watch;International Committee for IDAHO (the International Day Against Homophobia); International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC); International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender andIntersex Association (ILGA); International Service for Human Rights; Pan Africa ILGA; and Public Services International.
"The UN statement goes much further than seeking the decriminalisation of same-sex acts.
"It condemns all human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, urges countries to protect the human rights of LGBT people and to bring to justice those who violate these rights, and calls for human rights defenders who oppose homophobic and transphobic victimisation to be allowed to carry outtheir advocacy and humanitarian work unimpeded."
The New York Times reports that "nearly 60 nations" backed a counter statement read by Syria that claimed the gay rights "threatened to undermine the international framework of human rights by trying to normalise pedophilia, among other acts."
LGBT rights group ARC-International said:
"The signatories overcame intense opposition from a group of governments that regularly try to block UN attention to violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
"Only 57 states signed an alternative text promoted by the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.
"While affirming the "principles of non-discrimination and equality," they claimed that universal human rights did not include "the attempt to focus on the rights of certain persons."
Australia and US not signed up to UN decriminalisation declaration
Burundi MPs vote to criminalise same-sex acts ahead of UN appeal
France to ask UN for universal decriminalisation of homosexuality
UK is "committed to promoting LGBT rights overseas"

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

UN envoy calls on Caribbean nations to decriminalise homosexual acts

The United Nations special envoy for HIV/AIDS in the Caribbean has said that countries in the region should move to decriminalise gay sex.
George Alleyne said that such a move would help the fight against AIDS.
"I believe that the existence of these laws contribute to infected and potentially infected men not coming forward to be tested, and I will propose that such laws be revised," he said at a meeting in Guyana.
In 2007, an estimated 230,000 people in the Caribbean were living with HIV, while an estimated 20,000 were newly infected, and 14,000 died of AIDS-related illnesses, according to UNAIDS.
Mr Alleyne said homophobia was rampant and one of several "egregious manifestations of stigma and discrimination," reports the Latin American Herald Tribune.
His comments echo those of a British government minister.
Gareth Thomas, minister of state at the Department for International Development, told last month that tackling state and cultural homophobia is vital to the fight against HIV in the Caribbean.
He said he was concerned that "things are not getting better on either front, and more change is necessary."
His role at DFID has responsibility for HIV and Mr Thomas has visited the Caribbean several times.
"During those visits I have been struck by the extent to which homophobia and the anti-gay legislation is impacting the effort to fight the surge of HIV infections," he said.
During a recent meeting with Jamaica's Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Trade Minister, Mr Thomas raised the issue head on.
"We had an acknowledgment there was an issue, though there was not a conversation about immediate next steps," he said.

Monday, December 15, 2008

UN General Assembly statement

UN statement on decriminalising homosexuality and supporting LGBT human rights There are a number of new developments: The UN "declaration" is being called a "statement" and technically (in UN terms) is it a statement not a declaration, so it is best to call it a statement in any publicity or media coverage.

The statement is finalised, so the US and other countries cannot claim that it is not finalised and use this as an excuse to explain their non-signature (a copy of the UN statement follows below). Please note that the recommendations of the UN statement include more than the decriminalisation of homosexuality: As well as seeking the decriminalisation of same-sex acts, the statement also condemns all human rights violations based on sexual orientation and gender identity, urges countries to protect the human rights of LGBT people and to bring to justice those who violate these rights, and calls for human rights defenders who oppose homophobia and transphobia to be allowed to carry out their humanitarian work unimpeded. A list of supporting countries (as of now) is below.

Contrary to earlier reports, Australia and Venezuela have signed. Guinea-Bissau was thought to have agreed but has, in fact, not yet signed up. It probably will sign but this is not 100% certain. France may not now present and read the statement to the UN General Assembly. It might instead hand this task to a developing country (so the statement does not seem a purely western initiative).

CONFIRMED SIGNATORIES SO FAR - MORE PENDING According to Human Rights Watch, these countries have signed so far:

Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chile, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Estonia, Finland, France, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mexico, Montenegro, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Venezuela.


We have the honour to make this statement on human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity on behalf of [.] 1 - We reaffirm the principle of universality of human rights, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights whose 60th anniversary is celebrated this year, Article 1 of which proclaims that "all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights"; 2 - We reaffirm that everyone is entitled to the enjoyment of human rights without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status, as set out in Article 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 2 of the International Covenants on Civil and Political, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as well as in article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; 3 - We reaffirm the principle of non-discrimination which requires that human rights apply equally to every human being regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity; 4 - We are deeply concerned by violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms based on sexual orientation or gender identity; 5 - We are also disturbed that violence, harassment, discrimination, exclusion, stigmatisation and prejudice are directed against persons in all countries in the world because of sexual orientation or gender identity, and that these practices undermine the integrity and dignity of those subjected to these abuses; 6 - We condemn the human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity wherever they occur, in particular the use of the death penalty on this ground, extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, the practice of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment, arbitrary arrest or detention and deprivation of economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to health; 7 - We recall the statement in 2006 before the Human Rights Council by fifty four countries requesting the President of the Council to provide an opportunity, at an appropriate future session of the Council, for discussing these violations; 8 - We commend the attention paid to these issues by special procedures of the Human Rights Council and treaty bodies and encourage them to continue to integrate consideration of human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity within their relevant mandates; 9 - We welcome the adoption of Resolution AG/RES. 2435 (XXXVIII-O/08) on "Human Rights, Sexual Orientation, and Gender Identity" by the General Assembly of the Organization of American States during its 38th session in 3 June 2008; 10 - We call upon all States and relevant international human rights mechanisms to commit to promote and protect human rights of all persons, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity; 11 - We urge States to take all the necessary measures, in particular legislative or administrative, to ensure that sexual orientation or gender identity may under no circumstances be the basis for criminal penalties, in particular executions, arrests or detention. 12 - We urge States to ensure that human rights violations based on sexual orientation or gender identity are investigated and perpetrators held accountable and brought to justice; 13 - We urge States to ensure adequate protection of human rights defenders, and remove obstacles which prevent them from carrying out their work on issues of human rights and sexual orientation and gender identity. ACTION ALERT The presentation of the statement for the worldwide decriminalisation of homosexuality and for the human rights of LGBT people is now expected to take place at the UN General Assembly between 15 and 20 December. This means there is still time to lobby governments to sign up and support it.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Ten years for JFLAG

Kingston, Jamaica
December 10, 2008 marks ten years since the founding of the Jamaica Forum forLesbians, All-sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG), Jamaica’s foremost lesbian, gay andtransgender rights advocacy group. The anniversary will be commemorated with achurch service on the weekend. As J-FLAG celebrates this milestone, it pauses to reflecton the challenges and successes that have shaped its journey thus far.
Started by a group of 12 business people, educators, lawyers, public relationspractitioners, advertisers and human rights activists, J-FLAG was launched in the weehours of December 10, 2008. The organisation was born out of the need to advocatefor the protection of lesbians, gays and transgenders from state-sanctioned andcommunity violence. In this regard, J-FLAG’s call was for the fair and equal treatment ofgays and lesbians under the law and by the ordinary citizen.
The organisation’s birth was condemned and decried by most as a foolhardy venturethat would result in a backlash against members of the country’s lesbian, gay, bisexualand transgender community. On the other hand, it was welcomed by a few as a boldattempt to recognise lesbians, gays and transgenders as members of plural Jamaicansociety.
After ten years of existence, J-FLAG can boast of having survived in one of the mostinhospitable environments for gays, lesbians and transgender people. Indeed, much ofJ-FLAG’s work has revolved around the rescuing of community members from violentsituations or attempting to deal with the aftermath of such situations. In fact, theviolent death of Brian Williamson, one of the co-founders of J-FLAG—and for years itsvoice and face—and the recent departure of Gareth Henry, a former programmesmanager of the organisation, testify to the dangerous environment in which theorganisation operates.
Yet J-FLAG has been able to do what was, ten years ago, unthinkable in Jamaica. It hasvisited and made presentations on sexuality and human rights to a variety of local andinternational organisations, including religious, civic and human rights groups as well astertiary educational institutions and the police. It has also met with and given interviewswith radio and newspaper reporters. But perhaps its most significant achievements havebeen the submission to parliament regarding the addition of sexual orientation as acategory for which there should be constitutional protection against discrimination andthe assistance, in 2006, to relaunch the Caribbean Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals andGays (C-FLAG).
Over the ten years of its existence, J-FLAG has stood as a singular voice in Jamaicacalling for the respect of lesbians, gays and transgenders as citizens with the samerights and value as heterosexual Jamaicans. For the next phase of its journey, theorganisation will continue calling Jamaicans to a deeper understanding of their pluralityand their democracy; it will continue seeking to raise the level of debate in the societyabout the meaning of tolerance and the acceptance of difference. Accordingly, J-FLAGwill attempt to forge new relationships with a wider cross-section of organisationscommitted to strengthening democracy and the promotion of respect for all Jamaicans,regardless of sexual orientation, gender, creed, religion or social status.-30-

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) report on Jamaica's Human Rights

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) has said that gay and lesbian people in Jamaica suffer disproportionately in the deteriorating situation in the Caribbean nation.
IACHR issued preliminary observations after its visit to observe the human rights situation in Jamaica, which took place at the invitation of the government last week.
It focused particular attention on the situation of citizen security in the country and the human rights of women, children, and persons suffering discrimination on the basis of their sexual orientation.
The Commission said it had "verified an extremely high level of violence in Jamaica," which has one of the highest murder rates in the world.
"The historical response of the State has been inadequate, due to the absence of an integral policy to address and prevent violence, the failure to dedicate sufficient resources to the problem, and the absence of an effective response by the police, judiciary and other authorities," it reported.
"This has led to a progressive deterioration of the human rights situation in the country.
"This critical situation disproportionately affects the poorest sectors of the population, as well as women, children and people who face discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation."
The situation for gay and lesbian people was highlighted by IACHR. Homosexual acts are illegal in Jamaica.
"The Commission strongly condemns the high level of homophobia that prevails throughout Jamaican society," it said.
"This homophobia has resulted in violent killings of persons thought to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transsexual, as well as stabbings, mob attacks, arbitrary detention and police harassment.
"The resulting fear in turn makes it difficult for people within this group to access certain basic services, for example, medical services that might reveal their sexual orientation.
"Defenders of the rights of gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals have been murdered, beaten and threatened, and the police have been criticized for failing in many instances to prevent or respond to reports of such violence.
"The State must take measures to ensure that people within this group can associate freely, and exercise their other basic rights without fear of attack.
"During its visit, the Commission received reports on four murders in circumstances suggesting homophobia over a period of a year and a half.
"One such murder was reportedly a consequence of the firebombing of the house of a person thought to be homosexual, and another man perceived to be homosexual was chopped to death by machete.
"The IACHR reminds the government and the people of Jamaica that the right of all persons to be free from discrimination is guaranteed by international human rights law, specifically the American Convention on Human Rights.
"The IACHR urges Jamaica to take urgent action to prevent and respond to these human rights abuses, including through the adoption of public policy measures and campaigns against discrimination based on sexual orientation, as well as legislative reforms designed to bring its laws into conformity with the American Convention on Human Rights."
In June a poll commissioned by the Jamaica Gleaner found that 45% are more likely to vote for incumbent Prime Minister Bruce Golding and his Jamaica Labour Party after he told the BBC that he would never allow gays in his Cabinet.
26% of people who identified as supporters of the rival People's National Party said they were more likely to vote for Golding after his outburst.
Just five percent said they were less likely to vote for him after his widely-reported comments.
70% of Jamaicans do not believe that gay men and lesbians should be granted equal rights, the island-wide poll found.
The dancehall music scene on the island is notorious for its homophobia, with many artists taking pleasure in calling for gays and lesbians to be murdered.
A British minister raised the issue of decriminalisation of homosexual acts at a recent meeting with the Prime Minister of Jamaica.
Gareth Thomas, minister of state at the Department for International Development, told that tackling state and cultural homophobia is vital to the fight against HIV in the Caribbean.
He said he was concerned that "things are not getting better on either front, and more change is necessary."
His role at DFID has responsibility for HIV and Mr Thomas has visited the Caribbean several times.
"During those visits I have been struck by the extent to which homophobia and the anti-gay legislation is impacting the effort to fight the surge of HIV infections," he said.
During a recent meeting with Jamaica's Prime Minister, Foreign Minister and Trade Minister, Mr Thomas raised the issue head on.
"We had an acknowledgment there was an issue, though there was not a conversation about immediate next steps," he said.
Mr Thomas also met with members of Jamaica's gay community and said he was shocked by their experiences.
"Some of their stories are horrific," he told
"People who have been forced out of churches, out of their jobs and on occasion, violence.
"By any stretch of the imagination it is a disgrace and we need the state to take action."
Mr Thomas said the UK asylum system would look at gay and lesbian asylum seekers on a case by case basis.
The IACHR is an autonomous organ of the Organisation of American States (OAS).
Its mandate is found in the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The IACHR represents all of the member States of the OAS.
It also reported on the treatment of Jamaicans living with HIV after its recent visit.
"The Commission received information about the situation of discrimination against HIV-infected persons in Jamaican society," it said.
"Approximately 27,000 persons in Jamaica are reported to be infected with HIV, 73% of these are between the ages of 20 and 49.
"The Commission was informed that once an HIV-infected person’s family and community are made aware of his/her status, they are often rejected from their homes and communities.
"Further, HIV infected persons are reportedly denied equal access to healthcare due to discrimination based on their medical status.
"Public education and prevention outreach with the HIV infected population is difficult because this illness remains a social taboo in Jamaican society and largely associated with gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transsexuals, who also suffer severe discrimination.
"Given that Jamaica’s legislation criminalises sodomy, gay persons living with HIV are especially vulnerable to discrimination and violence."

Monday, December 8, 2008

United Nations Declaration calling for the global decriminalisation of homosexuality.

"The US government is one of the only western democratic nations that has declined to support a United Nations Declaration calling for the global decriminalisation of homosexuality. The Declaration will be put before the UN General Assembly this Wednesday, 10 December, which is Human Rights Day and the sixtieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," reports British gay human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell of the London-based LGBT rights group, OutRage!

"It will be the first time in its history that the UN General Assembly has ever considered the issue of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) human rights," he said.
"Although not be binding on the member states, the declaration will have immense symbolic value, given the six decades in which homophobic persecution has been ignored by the UN.
For a summary of the countries supporting the Declaration, see below.
"Even today, not a single international human rights convention explicitly acknowledges the human rights of LGBT people. The right to physically love the person of one's choice is nowhere enshrined in any global humanitarian law. No convention recognises sexual rights as human rights. None offer explicit protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity," added Mr Tatchell.

"Eighty-six countries (nearly half the nations on Earth) still have a total ban on male homosexuality and a smaller number also ban sex between women. The penalties in these countries range from a few years jail to life imprisonment. In at least seven countries or regions of countries (all under Islamist jurisdiction), the sentence is death: Saudi Arabia, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Mauritania and parts of Nigeria and Pakistan:
See the global homophobia survey produced by the International Lesbian and Gay Association:
"Unsurprisingly, the Vatican and the Organisation of Islamic States are leading the fight against the UN declaration."

Last week, the Papal envoy to the UN, Monsignor Celestino Migliore, explained the "logic" of the Holy See's opposition when he announced the Vatican's rejection of this week's decriminalisation declaration, as reported in The Times newspaper in London:
The Monsignor argued that the UN declaration would unfairly "pillory" countries where homosexuality is illegal; forcing them to establish "new categories (gay people) protected from discrimination." Such laws would "create new and implacable acts of discrimination.... States where same-sex unions are not recognized as 'marriages,' for example, would be subject to international pressure."
"In other words, protecting LGBT people against discrimination is an act of discrimination against those who discriminate. Since the Vatican is against discrimination, it opposes discrimination against countries that discriminate. This is the mediaeval mindset of the Pope and his placemen," said Mr Tatchell.
"Never mind, there are already plenty of countries committed to supporting the UN decriminalisation declaration.

"It will be tabled in the General Assembly on Wednesday by France with the backing of all 27 member states of the European Union; plus non-EU European nations such as Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Ukraine, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Ukraine, Armenia and Macedonia. Russia and Turkey are not signing.
"The call for the decriminalisation of same-sex relationships also has the support of the Latin American states of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Uruguay - but not, notably, Columbia, Peru, Guyana or Venezuela.
"Only three African nations - Gabon, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau - are endorsing the declaration so far. South Africa has not signed up. No Caribbean nation has offered its support - not even Cuba.
"Although New Zealand is committed to the declaration, Australia is not. Nor is the United States. But Canada is a sponsor.
"No country in the Middle East, apart from Israel, endorses the declaration, and in Asia only Japan has agreed to approve it. China and India are silent on where they stand.
"The initiative for the UN universal decriminalisation declaration came from the inspiring French black activist and gay rights campaigner, Louis-Georges Tin, the founder of the International Day Against Homophobia (IDAHO). He lobbied the French government, which agreed to take the lead in getting the declaration tabled at the UN. Member organisations of the global IDAHO network then petitioned their individual governments to support it.

"A reminder as to why this UN declaration matters occurred last Friday, a sad anniversary. On 5 December 2007, Makvan Mouloodzadeh, a 21-year-old Iranian man, was hanged in Kermanshah Central Prison, after an unfair trial. A member of Iran's persecuted Kurdish minority, he was executed on charges of raping other boys when he was 13. In other words, he committed these alleged acts when he was minor. According to Iranian law, a boy under 15 is a minor and cannot be executed. At Makvan's mockery of a trial, the alleged rape victims retracted their previous statements, saying they had made their allegations under duress. Makvan pleaded not guilty, telling the court that his confession was made under torture. He was hanged anyway, without a shred of credible evidence that he had even had sex with the boys, let alone raped them. The lies, defamation and homophobia of the debauched Iranian legal system was exposed when hundreds of villagers attended Makvan's funeral. People don't mourn rapists. This execution was bared-faced homophobic judicial murder, according to Arsham Parsi, Executive Director, of the underground Iranian Queer Railroad, which helps Iranian LGBTs fleeing arrest, torture and execution.

"Makvan's fate is just one example of the thousands of state-sponsored acts of homophobic persecution that happen worldwide ever year. It shows why Wednesday's UN declaration is so important - and so long overdue," said Mr Tatchell
Further information:

Peter Tatchell and OutRage!

+44 207 403 1790

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Tearoom Trade Study

Author: James M. DuBois

Description: In the 1960’s, Laud Humphreys observed men having sex with men in public restroomsof parks as part of his dissertation research without disclosing his role as a researcher.

Headings: Classic Historical CasesCase

Type: Decision making The Tearoom Trade Study From 1965 to 1968 Laud Humphreys, an ordained Episcopalian minister, conducted dissertation research on men who have impersonal sex with men (Humphreys, 1970). Without disclosing his role as a sociology researcher, Humphreys played the role of “watchqueen,” that is, he looked out for intruders while men performed oral sex on men in the public restrooms of parks in major metropolitan areas. Because he passed himself off as a voyeur – one who derives sexual gratification from observing the sex acts of others – he was permitted to watch acts that occurred in bathroom stalls without doors. Among other things, he gathered data on locations, the frequency of acts, the age of the men, the roles they played, and whether money changed hands.He later disclosed his role to some men he had observed and interviewed them on their daily lives. Inother cases, he recorded his subjects’ license plate numbers to track where they lived. A year later, after changing his hair and attire, he interviewed these same men in their homes under the guise ofconducting an anonymous public health survey. Humphreys reported that he recognized the need to protect the confidentiality of his data. He never published anecdotes that included identifiers, and he protected his notes carefully. However, he was observing illegal behaviors and if his notes were subpoenaed he might have been arrested and imprisoned for refusing to hand them over. While he always assumed he would refuse to hand overthe records, after later spending some time in jail (unrelated to the study), Humphreys questioned how long he might have withstood the pressure. Among the positive outcomes Humphreys cites was dispelling myths that the men he studied were dangerous social deviants: he found that most were married to women and had children; only 14% were exclusively homosexual and identified themselves as gay. Many within the gay community welcomed his research and in some police districts it lead to decreased raids and sodomy arrests. Others were upset because they believed that his research findings – published in a paperback book – basically presented the average man with a “how to” manual, i.e., with information on how to obtain cheap impersonal sex with men.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Youth Act up

With today's commemoration of World AIDS Day, Jamaican youth are being urged to take the lead in keeping HIV/AIDS issues on the public agenda and sex out of the schools.
Data from the Ministry of Health and Environment have revealed that AIDS is the second leading cause of death for youths between the ages of 15 and 24.
"Youth in school and out of school are called upon to champion the cause by example. Schools are no-sex zones and the National HIV/STI Programme (NHP) calls on youth to keep and promote schools as no-sex zones," Rudyard Spencer, minister of health and environment, said in his World AIDS Day message.
He added: "Youth need to become peer champions of change to get their sexually active peers to abstain from risky sexual practices, such as engaging in unprotected sex."
Between 1982 and 2007, 12,520 people have been reported with HIV/AIDS in Jamaica. However, the Health Ministry estimates that there are 27,000 Jamaicans living with HIV or AIDS and 18,000 are believed to be unaware of their status.
Spencer said about 73 per cent of all persons reported with HIV/AIDS in Jamaica are between 20 and 49 years old, adding that this age group represents the nation's vibrant, young and productive workforce.
The minister said another 2.5 per cent of those reported with HIV/AIDS are between 10 and 14 years old. Among persons reported with AIDS are 1.2 per cent of adolescents between 15 and 19 years.
Spencer said young people need to keep HIV out of their immune systems and discrimination out of their speech and demeanour.
"I charge all young people in Jamaica to join the promotion of abstinence and other safe sexual practices. I likewise call on parents and guardians to pay keen attention to the development of good morals and values in our young," he said.
Meanwhile, during a church service to commemorate World AIDS Day yesterday, Faith Hamer, policy advocacy officer in the Ministry of Health, urged members of the Swallowfield Chapel congregation to ensure that they get tested for HIV.
She noted that 90 per cent of persons infected with the disease, got infected while engaging in heterosexual practise. Hamer also said some 21 per cent of persons who are infected with the disease did not report high-risk behaviours

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Gays March in Haiti on world AIDS day

A small group of men openly declared their homosexuality during a protest in Haiti at the weekend.
The event, which was held to mark World AIDS Day, has been described as the first gay Pride march in the Caribbean.
The island nation of nine million people is deeply conservative, but about a dozen men wore T-shirts declaring they are masisi, a local slang word for homosexual.
UN and government officials took part in the march in the city of St Marc calling for better treatments and prevention campaigns.
The number of people with HIV has risen in every region of the world in the past two years, with the fastest increases being seen in East Asia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
UNAIDS and the World Health Organisation said that in 2007 more than 33 million people live with HIV and AIDS worldwide and every day more than 6,800 people become infected with HIV, and 5,700 people die from AIDS.
Haiti has one of the highest infection rates in the world and gay men and lesbians face stigma and homophobic attitudes, though the voodoo community is accepting of homosexuality.
Michèle Pierre-Louis was able to take office in September as Prime Minister only after she had gone on the radio to deny rumours she is a lesbian.