Gay and anti-gay lobbyists target Parliament
BY BALFORD HENRY Sunday Observer senior reporter firstname.lastname@example.org
AS the homosexual rights issue continues to attract increased attention, and with the Government's commitment to review the buggery legislation, Jamaican activists on both sides of the fence have been jockeying to ensure that their positions are clearly understood by parliamentarians.
The result has been a flood of e-mails, letters, reports and CDs on the issue to the desks of members of the House of Representatives and the Senate at Gordon House.
The latest includes a letter from the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals & Gays (J-FLAG) containing a report on incidents of "violence, discrimination, harassment and other forms of abuse perpetrated on the basis of an individual's sexual orientation or gender identity".
It also includes a CD on "Homosexuality: Clinical & Biblical Perspectives" from the Rev Clinton Chisholm, whose ChisholmSource.com has been designed to "provide carefully researched material to assist Christians and other seekers after truth to appreciate the mind-and-life value and abiding relevance of the truth claims of Christianity".
Chisholm's CD explores "aspects of human sexuality", focusing on homosexuality in light of the current controversies surrounding the activities of gays in Jamaica. It uses terms such as "same-sex attraction disorder", "sexual addiction" and presents what he says are spiritual and clinical psychotherapy to overcome them.
"Controversy abounds, especially in recent days, given the pronouncements of certain societal leaders, media practitioners, clinicians and clergy persons," it said.
"The controversy, no doubt, will continue on both the moral and clinical fronts, but there are some non-controversial realities concerning homosexuality, and these need to be more widely known and appreciated — especially by governmental authorities who struggle with legislation on the issue — and also by some religious persons, who seem to be involved in the ministry to homosexuals," he says.
Chisholm suggests that there is "little meaningful healing for the afflicted without the use of spirituality", and that "homosexuality, though a complex behavioural disorder, is not a genetic or 'born so' issue and a change from the disorder is possible".
"There is no equivocation or lack of clarity in the Bible about the wrongness of homosexuality," he insisted.
For its part, J-FLAG, in its report on activities within its membership during 2012, described the year as "challenging", but noted that there were "a number of noteworthy achievements for the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Jamaica".
Among its top 10 achievements, J-FLAG claimed that a third of the Jamaican population now believes that the Government is not doing enough to protect LGBT persons from violence and discrimination.
However, the lobby group admitted there were positive achievements, including: the "leadership" shown by the administration of the University of Technology following the beating of an alleged gay student on November 1; the agreement of the Ministry of National Security to conduct a study this year "on perceptions of safety and security within the LGBT community; and strengthening its relationship with the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), including the police commissioner.
The group said that this has led to an increase in LGBT persons reporting "homophobic crimes" and harassment to the police, and the JCF naming "sexual orientation" as a protected identity in Police Ethics and Diversity Policy.
J-FLAG also listed among its achievements: a constitutional challenge against TVJ, CVM and the Public Broadcasting Corporation (PBCJ) for refusing to air a pro-LGBT advertisement; Beenie Man's "very bold move" in apologising for his past "anti-gay" lyrics; and entertainer Diana King's 'coming out'.
It also claimed that research by the Ministry of Health has shown that "more gay, lesbian, bisexual and "other men who have sex with men (MSM)" are accessing health facilities for services related to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
The letter also noted "increased media output on LGBT issues", and the Government's position that the buggery law should be amended.
J-FLAG also urged the parliamentarians to "divorce grievances that drive prejudice, inequality, crime, violence and intolerance to build Jamaica land we love".