The last two decades have seen several attempts aimed at arresting the decaying values and attitudes that exist across the island of Jamaica especially among the youth. Evidence from a recent survey conducted by the Centre for Leadership and Governance (CLG), as well as utterances from several sectors of the Jamaican society suggests that much more effort is needed to inculcate positive values and attitudes in the youth. Importantly, there is need for a national discussion regarding strategies to promote positive values and attitudes among the Jamaican youth. Against this background, the Department of Government at the University of the West Indies (UWI) Mona, and the Ministry of Youth and Culture, in association with the Mona School of Business and Management and the Institute of Cultural Studies invite submissions of Academic Papers, Case Studies, Work in Progress/Posters, PhD Research, Round Table Proposals, non-‐ academic Contributions, White Papers, Policy Briefs and Concept Notes/Papers on a wide range of topics for the First National Youth Conference to be held November 26, 2014 at the UWI Regional Headquarters under the theme ‘Preparing Youth for the Future: Promoting Values and Attitudes for Development’.
The objective of the Conference is to provide a platform to stimulate, develop, and share information regarding the values and attitudes of the Jamaican youth. It also aims to assess the implications of youth values and attitudes for the development of Jamaica as well as formulate strategies to promote positive values and attitudes among the Jamaican youth. The conference will also attempt to provide a space for networking and the exchange of ideas, strategies, success stories and lessons in youth work.
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In a signed affidavit, Mr. Jaghai attributes his decision to withdraw from the case due to personal threats, the burden that the litigation was putting on his family, and continuing incidents of violence against Jamaica’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. In his affidavit, Mr. Jaghai told the court: “Though the cause and the case are noble, I am no longer willing to gamble with my life or the lives of my parents and siblings.” The full press release is available here: Javed Jaghai withdraws from Constitutional Challenge
Lesbian, bisexual, and transgender women have been excluded from much of Jamaica’s LGBT advocacy at the highest level. As part of J-FLAG’s commitment to being more inclusive and engaging more women in our programmes, we have launched a policy training programme specifically for our LBT women.
We are inviting lesbian, bisexual and transgender women to apply for the limited available spaces. See poster below for details on how to apply.
In memory of 16 year-old Dwayne Jones who became homeless at age 12 and was murdered on July 22, 2013 in St.James, J-FLAG has published a policy brief on LGBT homelessness in Jamaica.
In a newspaper article published June 13, 2014, Member of Parliament for South East St. Andrew and State Minister in the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining, Hon. Julian Robinson said there was a need to help homeless gays in his constituency as they have gained national and international attention. J-FLAG is imploring Minister Julian Robinson and local authorities to develop programmes that will address this issue in his constituency, where a large number of homeless LGBT persons have taken refuge.
We are also urging the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development to develop a Homelessness Policy based on its preliminary work done to date and the recommendations made in this brief, chief among which is the implementation of an inclusive, non-discriminatory programme for all persons who are homeless.
Read the full text of the brief here: (re)Presenting and Redressing LGBT Homelessness in Jamaica – JFLAG
In a press release on Tuesday, July 1, 2014, the Jamaica Civil Society Coalition (JCSC) urged individuals, groups, and organisations to bring an end to inflammatory and dismissive statements, and to the stigmatization of entire groups based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, religious convictions or other difference of whatever kind. Read the full release here: JCSC Highlights Danger of Debate About ‘Buggery Law’ Leading to Social Strife
Our Executive Director – Dane Lewis on clarifying the ‘J-FLAG Agenda’ in an open editorial Sunday, July 6, 2014.
J-FLAG shares the dream of a Jamaica where the family is strong and healthy. To this end, our family reintegration programme seeks to reunite LGBT youth with their families after they have been pushed from their homes and communities and forced to live in less-than-ideal situations. We also work to prevent displacement by sensitising and empowering family members with parenting tools for vulnerable youth in a hostile environment such as ours. This is our duty as patriotic Jamaicans.
Jamaica’s Emancipation is founded on freedom and the protection of the dignity of the person. J-FLAG recognises the diversity of thought and opinion that makes up this plural democracy on which we were founded and seeks only to ensure that LGBT people are recognised as full citizens endowed with the same rights as all other Jamaicans.
Just as Jamaica’s motto reads ‘Out of Many, One People’, we are convinced that LGBT Jamaicans ought never to be excluded from the Jamaican family.
Global Initiative KISS OFF!: Uniting in a creative response to intolerance has been created by multimedia artist Danielle ‘DMo’ Oke of the creative hub DMoArtWorlds. During the week of June 28 to July 4, 2014 people around the world are encouraged to share a photo or vine video of a same-sex kiss in the name of love, equality and human rights. It is a creative way to challenge societal homophobia and bring awareness to the persecutions people face because of their sexual orientation and identity. It’s also a visual celebration of love and life. Click here to learn more or participate.
More clarity on the dismissal of Professor Brendan Bain as head of CHART in light of the conflict of interest that resulted from his testimony on behalf of a coalition of churches in a case challenging the constitutionality of a Belizean Law, which criminalises men having sex with men. Professor Brendan Bain testified in the said court case on behalf of a coalition of churches that were seeking to retain the 1861 Law. This conflicts with the policy position held by CHART that the removal of laws that criminalise anal intercourse between consenting adults is necessary for a comprehensive, effective response to the HIV epidemic.
Watch the full length discussion here that took place on CVM TV’s May 28, 2014 edition of Live @ 7 with expert epidemiologist Professor Peter Figueroa of UWI and radiologist Dr. Wayne West also of the UWI.
Since July 2013, subsequent to the murder of 16-year-old Dwayne Jones – a transgender teen in St James – there have been several news reports of brutal attacks perpetrated against LGBT people across the island.
In August 2013, a group of five LGBT persons were marooned by an angry mob in a community in Manchester; a transgender female was attacked and had to be rescued by the police in Portmore, St Catherine[ , and two gay men were evicted from their home in Central Village, St Catherine. There have also been allegations of murders including the killing of a popular transgender performer in Spanish Town, St. Catherine.
These news reports have reinforced the argument that LGBT people live in very difficult circumstances and are at great risk of discrimination and violence. However, many Jamaicans argue LGBT people are no more at risk of violence and abuse than anyone. Some, including persons aligned to the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), have also said that incidents of violence against LGBT people are perpetrated by LGBT people themselves.
There is however, little evidence to substantiate any of these claims. The police has very little documented reports of violence against LGBT people and those recorded by J-FLAG have not all been investigated.
This briefing paper aims to provide information on the total number of reports documented by J-FLAG since 2009 and the similarities with national data provided by the JCF. It is intended to guide a more informed discussion about LGBT discrimination and violence. Finally, it is hoped that this paper will provide the impetus for the Ministry of National Security and Jamaica Constabulary Force to take further steps to empower persons to report all incidents of violence and conduct thorough investigations.
Read the full report here: Homophobia & Violence in Jamaica – JFLAG 2013
J-FLAG welcomes the Church’s leadership and call to ensure a more ‘wholesome, Christ-centred and engaging perspective on sexuality is included in their discipleship programme’ as articulated in the paper, which was published on September 25, 2013.
It is encouraging that the Jamaica Council of Churches has used its position as a historically well respected faith-based organisation to lead in engendering a more ‘welcoming and non-judgmental space’ in the Church.
As you may be aware, it is not uncommon for the Bible to be used as a justification to isolate, harass and persecute LGBT people. I commend you and your team for encouraging your members and the wider religious community to avoid using speech and taking actions ‘that could ostracize, incite violence or any other treatment of indignity towards persons who are homosexuals.’
I am aware this has taken the JCC some time to develop this position and I acknowledge, as stated, that ‘differing interpretations of scripture have led to varying theological positions’ relating to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. We however wish to note, with concern, that some of the language used in the position paper is problematic.
Nevertheless, J-FLAG welcomes and is encouraged by the call for constructive dialogue on the varying points of view with an overarching desire for the human dignity of LGBT people to be recognised and protected irrespective of ideological differences in opinion. We consider this as an important opportunity for us to work together to bring greater understanding on the issue of sexual and gender diversity amongst your members so that we can all work from a place love, compassion and grace.
We are therefore willing and eager to work with the JCC to refine and develop the position paper, where necessary so that we can support a process to mitigate the harm caused to LGBT persons and their families, including those who are Christians.