Jamaican activists are not con men

What to make of a prominent Roman Catholic deacon’s claim that Jamaican LGBT-rights activists are acting like con artists? Jamaican/Canadian activist Maurice Tomlinson sets the record straight.

Activist Jason Jones, a native of Trinidad living in the U.K., attended the rally. (Photo courtesy of Edwin Sesange)

In London, Trinidadian/British activist Jason Jones celebrates the victory in his lawsuit to overturn Trinidad’s anti-LGBT laws — and pushes for other Commonwealth countries to follow suit. (Photo courtesy of Edwin Sesange)

COMMENTARY

As a Christian, I always cringe when I read Jamaican Roman Catholic deacon and sociologist Peter Espeut’s articles concerning LGBT people. As an office-holder in a church ostensibly built on the “rock” (or “Peter” in Latin) of Christ’s example and command to reach those on the margins of society, this modern Peter’s writings display a dangerous hostility towards vulnerable LGBT people.

Peter Espeut (Photo courtesy of the Jamaica Gleaner)

Peter Espeut (Photo courtesy of the Jamaica Gleaner)

In his latest tirade (“Ginnalship and the gay agenda” Jamaica Gleaner April 27, 2018),  Espeut argues that it is premature to celebrate the Belize and Trinidad court decisions that struck down those countries’ anti-sodomy laws. Peter also resorted to calling Jamaican gays and their allies “ginnals” (con artists) because they want the 1864 British colonially-imposed anti-sodomy law amended in order to punish the anal rape of boys (now a maximum of 10 years under the anti-sodomy law) with the same severity as the vaginal rape of girls (which is up to life imprisonment). To Peter, this request is not about “protecting” boys but pushing a devious gay agenda.

A quirk in the Jamaican constitution “saves” all pre-independence laws, such as the anti-sodomy statute, from constitutional review if they remain unchanged. So, even if the subject law violates a host of human rights, such as privacy, only Parliament can strike it down. This obviously undermines the court’s function as guardian of the Constitution to interpret the validity of laws.

While I make no claims as to whether equalizing the punishment for all rapes will protect boys, I would remind Peter about Christ’s injunction to take the plank out of one’s own eye before attempting to dislodge the speck from the eyes of another. The moral authority of the Catholic Church to speak about protecting children is certainly tainted in light of the legion of pedophile priests who the church protected for centuries.

But, Peter was not content to stray into a questionable moral discourse. He also believes that as a sociologist he can confidently opine on legal interpretation as well! As is often the case, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. As a lawyer and law lecturer, I would therefore like to clarify some of the finer legal points for Deacon Espeut.

Maurice Tomlinson (Photo courtesy of Macalester.edu)

Maurice Tomlinson (Photo courtesy of Macalester.edu)

First, following the withdrawal of the Belize Catholic church from the court case (thanks in part to the installation of a more humane and pastoral bishop), the government was the only party left to appeal the historic decision to strike down the anti-sodomy law. The government had initially accepted the Chief Justice’s ruling that the statute violates the constitution. However, after pressure from powerful anti-gay religious organizations, the government decided to appeal only one issue, whether the definition of “sex” in the constitution’s non-discrimination clause also included “sexual orientation.” This interpretation will not affect the repeal of the law, as there is no question that it unjustly infringes several other constitutional rights.

And as for the Trinidad decision, LGBT people and allies across the region anticipated and are quite prepared for the matter to be appealed. This is because a first instance decision will have less persuasive value than one from an apex court. So, hopefully this matter will quickly be taken up by Trinidad’s final appellate body, the UK Privy Council, which, coincidentally, is also the final court for several Caribbean countries with anti-sodomy laws, including Jamaica.

In the Jamaican case of Lambert Waton v the Queen [2004] UKPC, the Privy Council said that savings law clauses must be narrowly interpreted while constitutional rights must be liberally construed. There is therefore great anticipation that the Trinidad decision will accelerate the end of anti-sodomy laws in the nine other Anglophone Caribbean countries that still have them.

Finally, Deacon Espeut believes that Jamaica’s anti-sodomy law is completely shielded by the savings law clause because, to him, the statute was never changed. However, what he fails to appreciate is that the 2012 Sexual Offences Act, introduced a new requirement that persons convicted under the anti-sodomy law must now register as sex offenders. And, in some jurisdictions, courts have found that sex offender registration amounts to punishment and therefore a change in the law. This would ostensibly make the savings law clause inoperative and open the anti-sodomy law to constitutional review.

Time will tell how the Jamaican courts will rule on our anti-sodomy law, but as the Prime Minister recently acknowledged, the country is changing and becoming more tolerant of the human rights for LGBT people. Archaic and hateful anti-gay laws will eventually disappear: They are built on the sinking sand of unjust discrimination, not the solid rock of human rights.

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Homophobe of the Week: Uhuru Kenyatta

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta is the recipient of this blog’s Homophobe of the Week Award on the basis of his statement that gay rights are “of no importance.”

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta: Gay rights are "of no importance."

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta: Gay rights are “of no importance.”

Kenyan courts are currently weighing whether to overturn the nation’s repressive colonial-era anti-sodomy law, but in an interview with Christiane Amanpour of CNN: , Kenyatta claimed that gay rights are “of no importance in Kenya.”

He refused to talk about the human rights of LGBTI people, stating:
“I won’t engage in a subject that is of no importance to the people of Kenya. This is not an issue of human rights, this is an issue of our own base as a culture, as a people regardless of which community you come from.”

RUNNERS UP

Kenyatta edged out the following nominees for Homophobe of the Week. Each of them deserved similar dishonor:

In Jamaica, provocateur Orville Taylor, who claims that former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller must not have been thinking, so must have made a made knee-jerk response when she said gays could serve in her cabinet. http://ht.ly/OqgV30jFRWV

In California, gubernatorial candidate Travis Allen, who claims that an anti-“gay conversion” bill would ban sales of the Bible. ht.ly/gy2q30jFBwF
Police in three countries also were in the running for dishonor:
 
 In Malawi, police in Mzuzu arrested a man on suspicion of “being gay,” despite the nation’s moratorium on enforcement of its anti-gay law.
In Imo State in Nigeria, a homophobic mob seized two allegedly gay men, stripped them and paraded them through the streets. In response, police arrested the two victims.
In Dschang in Cameroon, police arrested five activists who are suspected of being gay because they are fighting for LGBT rights and against AIDS. As of today, the men have been behind bars for 11 days without specific charges.

 

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Abused Nigerian ‘gay pastor’ hits back with his own video

A Nigerian pastor has gone online to deny the allegations of men who recently stripped him naked, accused him of homosexuality, and posted a humiliating video clip of him online.

Prophet David Ifeanyi Calistus Ezeayinche.

That video clip went viral, showing the preacher from Aguata Local Government Area of Anambra state being interrogated and abused by several men about his sexual orientation. (See “Gay pastor in Nigeria stripped naked by homophobes.”)  In the video, the pastor acknowledged that he was gay.

But this time, the case is different. The religious leader, who identified himself as Prophet David Ifeanyi Calistus Ezeayinche, has uploaded his own video telling his own version of what transpired between him and the men who interrogated and humiliated him.

In the new video, he denies the allegations, claiming that he was blackmailed by ex-members of his church whom he had expelled. He was under duress throughout the videotaped interrogation, he says.

In the new video he says:

“It come to our notice, as various pictures and videos spread all over the world about a particular case of homosexual, and I came to tell you is a scandal, and is a group of boys from the church, which the church drove out, they conspired against the man of God to extort money and they kidnapped me. And if you watch the video very well a condom was thrown. You will see somebody with a machete. It was under duress — do or die. I have no option than to say such thing like that.”

Mike Daemon comments:

The pastor might be trying to control the damage caused by the incident, or he could be telling the truth about what really happened. Whatever the case, a crime was committed.

Blackmail, jungle justice and all forms of abuse toward people on the basis of their sexual orientation (real or perceived) are crimes and human rights violations.

Watch the video below.

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Malawi: Trying to elude moratorium on anti-gay arrests

For six years, Malawi has imposed a moratorium on arrests for alleged violations of the nation’s laws against gay sex, but police have now arrested a man on suspicion of being gay and charged him with indecency.

The arrest was reportedly made for an alleged violation of Section 156 of the Penal Code (indecent practices between males) rather than under the country’s main anti-gay law,  Section 153 (carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature).

Those laws are facing a constitutional challenge in court.

The Nyasa Times article about the arrest is below (uncorrected):

Malawi police arrest man suspected of being gay in Mzuzu, charged with ‘gross indecency’

Malawi's location in East Africa

Malawi’s location in East Africa

Malawi police said Wednesday they had arrested Limbani Sibande, 24, in northern city of Mzuzu, for presumed homosexuality at a time activist are demanding that laws banning homosexuality should be overturned.

Both Northern Region Police Public Relations Officer Peter Kalaya and National Police headquarters in Lilongwe, Public Relations Officer, James Kadadzera, confirmed the arrest.

The police have reportedly been keeping Sibande in custody since Thursday last week. He was arrested on suspicion that he is gay.

He has been charged with gross indecency the same offence the famous gay couple of Tiwonge Chimbalanga and Steven Monjeza were charged with in 2010.

According to his particulars sourced from police, Sibande hails from David Sibande Village in Traditional Authority Kampingo Sibande, in Mzimba District.

Gay rights activists have expressed concern that arresting people just because they are gay is human rights abuse.

“Homosexuality is not illegal in Malawi. It is the practice of it that it,” observed one activist.

Malawi President Peter Mutharika (Photo courtesy of Twitter)

Malawi President Peter Mutharika (Photo courtesy of Twitter)

The development comes when Scottish government ministers are set to raise human rights abuses in Malawi with the country’s president, Peter Mutharika, who is on an official visit to Scotland.

Gay rights campaigners have been urging political leaders who meet Mutharika on his visit to Holyrood to demand the end of anti-gay laws in the southern African country where homosexuality is outlawed. The laws have led to the imposition of prison sentences of up to 14 years.

A Scottish government spokesman said it “condemns human rights abuses wherever they occur”, adding: “We expect states to abide by international human rights obligations. This is an issue we will raise.”

The issues of homosexuality has been emotive in Malawi with the Muslim Association of Malawi (MAM) spokesperson Sheikh Dinala Chabulika calling for gay people to be condemned to death.

Chabulika stated that homosexuality is not only against the Islamic teachings and religion but also an abomination and therefore emphasized that those practising it be executed.

He further emphasized that as the Muslim Community, they will never change their stand on the matter that homosexuals need to be handed death penalty as a way of making sure that the issue is curbed.

In the article, Chabulika stated that homosexuality is not only against the Islamic teachings and religion but also an abomination and therefore emphasized that those practising it be executed.

He further emphasized that as the Muslim Community, they will never change their stand on the matter that homosexuals need to be handed death penalty as a way of making sure that the issue is curbed

Chabulika trashed the call by Malawi government through the Malawi Human Rights Commission (MHRC) on the need to conduct a survey to sort views of Malawians on Homosexuality practice which is under the LGBTI (Lesbians, Gays, Transgender and Intersex) blacket, saying the Inquiry is ‘unnecessary’.

If we go by the christianity religion, homosexuality is a seen punishable by death as written on Leviticus 20:13 just like other sins that include aldutery, contempt to the judge or Priests among others.

However, most African and Islamic countries regard homosexuality as the worst sin even though the Bible says ‘No sin is bigger than the other’ before the eyes of God.

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Cameroon: No charges, 8+ days in jail, anal exams

Law enforcement officials in west Cameroon plan to order anal exams for five men who have been incarcerated at the local police station since April 20 on suspicion of homosexuality.

This image of a boot trampling a rainbow flag is being used by defenders of the men arrested in Cameroon.

This image of a boot trampling a rainbow flag is being used by defenders of the men arrested in Cameroon.

François Waffo Lele, founder and president of the LGBTI rights association Avenir Jeune de l’Ouest, stated today about his five colleagues who are jailed in Dschang:

“It is apparent at the courthouse in Dschang that the detainees will be subjected to an anal examination this afternoon. We therefore urgently call on of our all partners and allies to see to it that these forced examinations do not take place. Thank you ”

Mandatory anal exams are notorious for being both abusive and worthless in determining a person’s sexual behavior.

The UN Special Rapporteur on torture has said that forced anal examinations amount to torture or cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. The Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, and other UN agencies have also condemned the exams. The forensic experts’ statement asserts that, “Forcibly conducting anal examinations on individuals is humiliating, demeaning, and, not surprisingly, almost invariably causes significant psychological suffering.”

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Protest over Bangladeshi failure to solve 2016 murders

Bangladeshi gay community members gathered in London yesterday to protest the police failure to make any arrests or even publish a report on the 2016 murders of gay activists Xulhaz Mannan and Tonoy Mojumdar in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Protesters gathered at the Bangladeshi High Commission in London to demand action from Bangladeshi authorities who investigated the 2016 murders of prominent LGBT activists. (Photo courtesy of Riaz Osmani)

Protesters gathered at the Bangladeshi High Commission in London to demand action from Bangladeshi authorities who investigated the 2016 murders of prominent LGBT activists. (Photo courtesy of Riaz Osmani)

Bangladeshi activist Riaz Osmani writes:

It’s been two years since a prominent gay rights activist Xulhaz and gay cultural activist Tonoy were brutally murdered in Bangladesh by Islamic militants.

The authorities in Bangladesh have been very slow to pursue the killers. Submission of a police report has been postponed 23 times already and there has been no headway. We want justice for the murders of our friends.

Gay rights activists Peter Tatchell (left) and Riaz Osmani (right) were among the protesters demanding action from Bangladeshi authorities in the case of the 2016 murders of who investigated the 2016 murders of Xulhaz Mannan and Tonoy Mojumdar. (Photo courtesy of Riaz Osmani)

Gay rights activists Peter Tatchell (left) and Riaz Osmani (right) were among the protesters demanding action from Bangladeshi authorities in the case of the 2016 murders of  Xulhaz Mannan and Tonoy Mojumdar. (Photo courtesy of Riaz Osmani)

Members from the Bangladeshi gay community in London held a peaceful protest rally in front the Bangladesh High Commission in London this evening. A letter was handed over to the office. The event was organized by a very close friend of Xulhaz called Mazharul Islam. It was attended by UK’s famous gay rights and human rights activist Peter Tatchell, who gave a speech at the end.

Special thanks to Mazharul for organizing the event and, when Peter gets involved, things happen. It was wonderful to see so many members of the Bangladeshi gay community in London assemble together.

There were members from the English and other communities as well. We hope that the Bangladesh High Commission and indeed the Bangladesh government will take notice and the police administration will be shamed into giving the matter due importance.

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Nigeria: 2 men stripped, paraded for alleged sex

Two Nigerian men in Imo State were stripped naked, beaten and paraded on the street after being accused of having gay sex.

Two of the victims who was paraded through the streets.

The incident happened early today in the Isiala Mbano area of Imo State. The victim’s identities are unknown.

A scornful crowd marched the two victims through the streets.

A scornful crowd marched the two victims through the streets.

The victims would have numbered three men, except that one managed to escape just after the mob arrived. The two men who were left behind were subjected to public humiliation and made to walk naked on the street with palm leaves tied around their necks and waist. The abusive mob followed them, as did a crowd of people taking photos and shouting at them.

It is believed that the homophobic mob tied the leaves around the men to portray them as abominations.

An inquiry into the incident by NoStringsNG revealed that the victims were arrested by police and now may need legal support.

Incidents like this are common in Nigeria and seem to be on the rise of late. Encouraged by the country’s anti-gay law, enacted in 2014, homophobic criminals target unsuspecting gay people, who become victims of blackmail, extortion, kidnap, rape etc.

Recently, a similar incident occurred in Anambra State, where an innocent pastor was seized by a mob, beaten, stripped, and subjected to online abuse by criminals who forced him to acknowledge that he is gay.

A victim mockingly dressed in palm leaves.

A victim mockingly dressed in palm leaves.

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Cameroon: 5 gay-rights arrests; 6 days in jail and counting

Five LGBTI rights advocates in western Cameroon were arrested last weekend and remain behind bars at the Dschang police station on suspicion of homosexuality.

This image of a boot trampling a rainbow flag is being used by defenders of the men arrested in Cameroon.

This image of a boot trampling a rainbow flag is being used by defenders of the men arrested in Dchang, Cameroon.

By Steeves Winner

Dschang is in Cameroon's Ouest province about 100 miles from the Nigerian border.

Dschang is in Cameroon’s Ouest province about 100 miles from the Nigerian border.

About 7 p.m. on April 20, plainclothes police  arrived unannounced at a youth center in Dchang and demanded proof of identification from each person there.

At the time, staff members were preparing to go home after closing up the youth center, which is the Dchang branch of the health and human-rights organization Avenir Jeune de l’Ouest, or AJO (Youthful Future of the West), based in Bafoussam, Cameroon.

Police roughed them up, forced them into a vehicle without explanation, and transported them to the Central Police Department of Dschang. They are still being held there. No visitors are allowed.

The work of AJO is to defend the human rights of  LGBTI people and sex workers and to provide them with HIV information, treatment and other services.

Franck Lele, president of AJO, said that the people arrested include the group’s executive director, three peer educators and a security guard.

Court hearings were scheduled for April 23 and April 24. Specific charges were not announced.

Logo of Avenir Jeune de l'Ouest

Logo of Avenir Jeune de l’Ouest

AJO said the raid was conducted in response to accusations from an unidentified individual who made claims about homosexuality at the AJO center. In Cameroon, sexual activity between members of the same sex is punishable by up to five years in prison. In principle, sexual attraction to a member of the same sex  is not illegal, but in practice gay men are often arrested on charges of being homosexual.

The five men are being held in a single cell without beds or a latrine, AJO said. They are suffering mentally and physically. The executive director in particular is experiencing pain in his chest and head. AJO appealed to the police to allow a <span title=”Nous en appelons donc à la mise à disposition d’une équipe médicale et psychologique pour apporter toute l’assistance indispensable à notre équipe.

“>medical and psychological team to visit the prisoners.

Lele said police are investigating the men by raiding their homes and asking their families about their sexual orientations. The situation has left the local community in distress, in particular “the mystery maintained by the officers stationed at the Dschang Central Police Station around the reason for the arrests of our members and staff and the untimely raids on our homes,” he said.

Steeves Winner, the author of this article, is an activist for LGBTI rights in Cameroon who writes under a pseudonym. You can contact him at steeves.w@yahoo.com.

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Rift splits Tunisian LGBT rights advocates

Associations in the Tunisian Coalition for LGBTQI+ Rights have disassociated themselves from the LGBTQI rights group Shams, citing disagreements over outing politicians,  sexual harassment and Israel.

Location of Tunisia in North Africa

Location of Tunisia in North Africa

When the Tunisian Coalition for LGBTQI+ Rights was formed last year, Shams (Arabic for “sun”) was one of the founding members. 

Coalition members Chouf, Damj and Mawjoudin (Mawjoudin We Exist) signed the following statement. A statement from Shams in its own defense is printed below.

Tunis, the 25th of April 2018 — We, member organizations of the Tunisian Coalition for LGBTQI+ Rights, believe in and work for well determined values and ethics in order to create a safe space for our community’s members. We fight for the protection and the anonymity of our members as well as those who refer to us for help. We give a lot of interest to the human aspect in the work we do, and insist on the need to create a strong community, able to count on its members.

In this context, it is important to recall that Shams organization is not part of the Tunisian Coalition for LGBTQI+ Rights and that we, member organizations, have decided to no longer collaborate directly or indirectly with this organization for the following reasons:

  • The “outing” practices that this organization constantly uses go against the coalition’s values, regarding the protection of private life and space. On several occasions, Shams organization uses the “outing” as a tool to challenge the homophobic statements of certain public figures. Although the coalition denounces all positions using homophobia and transphobia as a main argument, it condemns the “outing” method.
  • The announcement of the new coalition's report on the rights of LGBTQI people in Tunisia.

    The cover of “State of Affairs,” the 2017 report by the Tunisian Coalition about the rights of LGBTQI people.

    The violation of the private life of vulnerable LGBTQI + individuals, who have recourse to this organization, by exposing them to media, in order to tell their stories, without assessing the legal and social consequences that could be generated through this exposure. We consider that it is the role of the organizations to protect these individuals and that consent can be valid only if the person is able to bear the consequences that could eventually result from this visibility, we believe that individuals who are in a precarious situation and who are very vulnerable Cannot give informed consent.

  • In fact, the coalition members, as well as other allied organizations, have repeatedly received complaints of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior towards minors, committed by the president of Shams association. The coalition asked Shams’ executive bureau to make a firm decision on this, the answers have always been negative.
  • Similarly, the position of the president of Shams association which calls for total normalization with the Zionist entity, which goes against our principles and our ethics.

It is therefore necessary to recall that the TUNISIAN COALITION FOR LGBTQI+ RIGHTS refuses to be affiliated with Shams organization, and that the actions and activities of Shams do not relate or represent in any way the Coalition.

Contacted by this blog, Shams stated:

Shams does not respond to what it sees as slander and defamation by associations that claim to be LGBT, but whose founding documents do not mention anything about LGBT rights. It is understandable that the international media success of Shams and its advocacy for the LGBT community has aroused their envy.

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Why this Kenyan pastor wants gay sex legalized

“Removing [anti-gay] laws would give people more confidence to know that they are not criminals.” — Pastor David Ochal of the Cosmopolitan Church in Nairobi.

David Ochal, pastor of the Cosmopolitan Church in Nairobi, Kenya. (Photo courtesy of YouTube)

David Ochal, pastor of the Cosmopolitan Church in Nairobi, Kenya. (Photo courtesy of YouTube)

Video from Voice of America:

While many religious groups are firmly against the push to decriminalize gay sex in Kenya, one is for it. Pastor David Ochal, who ministers to a congregation that welcomes homosexuals with open arms, explains why he backs rights groups agitating for the repeal of Sections 162 and 165 of the penal code. VOA’s Daniel Schearf reports from Nairobi.

Scene during worship at the Cosmopolitan Church in Nairobi, Kenya. (Photo courtesy of YouTube)

Scene during worship at the Cosmopolitan Church in Nairobi, Kenya. (Photo courtesy of YouTube)

Ochal says about his Cosmopolitan Church and gay Kenyans, “There’s a lot of police harassment … so people are afraid of coming here. They don’t know what might happen, if the police might come storming in here. … Removing [anti-gay] laws would give people more confidence to know that they are not criminals.”

Thanks to Denis Nzioka for the link to the video below.

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