As the Javed Jaghai buggery law constitutional challenge via the charter of rights/sexual offences bill commences today in the Supreme Court Climate Change Minister, Chairman and powerful politician from the ruling People’s National Party has spoken out publicly on the upcoming conscience vote as suggested then promised by his administration through its leader Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, all hands are not on deck it seems regarding the PM’s suggestion there is no doubt in my mind that diplomatic pressure is also being brought to bear on this issue as to raise this matter in a time when the government is not in a favourable position with the public given the economic challenges, the pending international monetary fund tests (in the present deal), the obvious austerity measures as evidenced with the teachers and other public sector groups who seem in regret mode after signing a wage freeze memorandum. On the eve of the aforementioned Supreme Court case in challenge to the constitutionality of the buggery law in the face of the enacted 2001 Charter of Rights a few voices have been weighing in. Javed Jaghai Education Officer at the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians Allsexuals and Gays, JFLAG on whose behalf the United States based group AIDSFREEWORLD with their attorney locally based (as his asylum status miraculously disappeared) Maurice Tomlinson will head to court on June 25, 2013 with much nervousness and anticipation. Tomlinson’s own tolerance advertisement/Public Service Announcement (still unclear to many what it the real status of the video he is trying to get aired) matter which concluded recently is being deliberated in the constitutional court (the Supreme Court as well). The court challenges have irked several mostly religious groups to which they have mobilized protests and stands in Kingston and Montego Bay on June 23, 2013. They have vowed to do all they can to block with some suggesting martyrdom when no violence has been postulated by the LGBT lobby to block any decriminalization or repeal of the law. An unexpected backlash is brewing as other Christian and secular persons are labelling the antigay religious voices as hypocrites and nitpickers with their selectivity of homosexuality to mobilize themselves yet other ills are overlooked (more below)
Following a People’s National Party National Executive Council, NEC meeting Minister Pickersgill in a press briefing in Spaulding Clarendon on June 23, 2013 said he does not believe a pure conscience vote should be used to decide on the matter of the buggery law, he continued among other things the following:
“I for one don’t believe in conscience votes on such matters of whether you’re a hawk or a dove, whether you are for accommodating homosexuality in terms of the law I don’t believe it should be left up to politicians it should really go to the people; and there are strong views as you know on it the same there are about abortion and capital punishment.”
He also added that Jamaica has been coming under pressure from foreign countries who advocate that homosexuality is a human right.
“A lot of developed countries who had that law before and who over time they have changed it they are now saying it’s a human right, fine but you know we need some time ........... I am not going to go the route of the former Prime Minister (Golding and his not in my Cabinet BBC comment) but we need some time to think about it and more public education; we cannot forget that the church is a very strong constituent in this country and we have to hear their views.”
So like a previous PNP member in 2011/2 Damien Crawford when he hinted that the buggery review when suggested by his present boss in her opposition leader role was not going to occur anytime soon, it was not relevant and it came to pass until May 2013 now we have more of the inside thinking especially from a powerful figure as Mr Bobby Pickersgill.
Mr Pickersgill and other PNP candidates were the subject of a rather strange ad during the 2011 election season, as to the author's it is unclear but the intent is obvious:
Some questions instantly come to mind:
Is he suggesting that the matter be put to a referendum instead as demanded by some church groups, the Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship’s Shirley Richards has hinted that the people should decide and with the over confidence in that arena that they have the numbers to strike it down I am wondering if Mr Pickersgill is trying to wash his hands of blame if it should go either way.
Is this a trap for the LGBT lobby to silence or at least slow down the agitation? This matter if decided not in the affirmative can easily secure the present administration’s going to a second term as their cloudy support now may very well say they never legalised homosexuality (although it is not illegal) and despite the known LGBT support of the party we all know it is about winning elections in politics at the end of the day
Are politicians being lobbied consistently by the LGBT lobby groups such as JFLAG?
Why does JFLAG and others speak out more and what it is that they are actually asking for? The news that the J is now asking for decriminalization (since the last two years and not a full repeal came as a stunner to some even within the LGBT community (while publicly the perception remains they want a full repeal) once again JFLAG’s communication strategy is called into question both at the poor forumatic activity levels to engage the LGBT body politic and the public in general. The flyer typed messaging is simply not enough and the so called town hall meetings that are not openly advertised to the LGBT community to invite comments and consensus when invitations to such meetings are done by a selective basis cannot be the modus operandi, not when the church has what seems full mobilization on their side.
Why doesn’t Mr Pickersgill suggest a full amendment/debate in Parliament on the matter as was done via a parliamentary joint select committee in the 1998 submission made by JFLAG? That would be the more politically correct route in my eyes with a proper open exchange on the floor of the house but obviously politicians still seem afraid to touch this most sensitive issue and a conscience vote or a referendum for that matter are easier ways out to avoid any blame when it goes either way. A referendum might be even more problematic as they are often viewed as political measurements for the particular administration that launches them and is used to see the support or lack thereof on the ground. Hence I feel it is why certain anti gay groups are calling for that route to be taken.
I wonder what the rest of the Cabinet thinks about all this?
I wonder what older politicians in the PNP especially persons such as former senator/Justice Minister and anti gay voice A. J. Nicholson thinks? His historical position on this as always been in strong opposition so much so that he penned a no to gay marriage statement in 2006 under the Ministry of Justice caption as it was thought and still perceived that gay marriage is what the lobby eventually is going after.
What is wrong in asking for gay marriage rights, isn’t the dignity of same gender loving folk important as well, isn’t stability especially in a marginalized group aid to reducing said marginalization and hence normalization with wider positive implications?
I wonder what K. D. Knight also thinks about this as he too was not so supportive in the P. J. Patterson years as Prime Minister even in the face of strong speculation of his own sexual orientation (PJ’s).
If the vote occurs and goes into the affirmative with the necessary amendments what is next, are we prepared for the backlash that is to come, cultural and maybe otherwise?
Will the PNP capitulate to the growing cry for a referendum or more population involvement in this matter from religious voices more so than a Member of Parliament only (with constituents’ sentiments) vote on the floor of parliament?
As the lobby and the nation waits to hear when and how this will all play out and the respective legal challenges also continue to supposedly force the changes from a judicial standpoint we must pay close attention to certain voices and the sentiments; we must also watch closely the parallel debate on abortion it was only this morning a leading anti gay anti abortion advocate Reverend Peter Espeut disagreed on a morning program that even if a woman is raped that she should be allowed the right to terminate that pregnancy as was suggested by youth and culture Minister Lisa Hanna in Parliament last week. He said among other things: “......even a deformed baby has the right to be born, even as a result of rape it is not the child’s fault that they are produced by rape that is no reason for the child to forfeit its life...” (Notice he said child and not zygote or foetus or embryo) he dismissed the viability argument and called it a perverse argument. At a point in a woman’s life when she is interrupted with a most horrible event that produces a life that will always be a reminder to her and those around her who are aware of the ghastly acts for her to carry this child even if she gave it up for adoption may be too painful for some to bear yet Reverend Espeut would much rather have that woman carry the pregnancy to term and live with the possible psychological pain.
So much for absolutism and prescribing for others their choice, similar to the basic invasion of privacy in buggery when all that is agitated for is privacy, the right to choose via the all important consent between adults yet if we follow Espeut el arguments it will amount to wide scale buggery towards the young and the unnaturalness of homosexuality. A prominent attorney-at-law is urging that the conscience vote for the review of the law be done with the views of the members of the constituency taken into consideration, rather than the vote solely being made by the parliamentarians.
"They (parliamentarians) shouldn't be voting on their own conscience. They are representing the people. We want to know how the representatives in parliament vote on this issue. The people should know how their representatives vote," she said.
Another legal luminary, Bert Samuels, explained that it certainly will be interesting to see how the parliamentarians vote on this issue. He also said that having a referendum on this matter would represent the highest form of democracy.
"I think there will be a toss-up between fundamentalist Christian values on one side and the liberals on another. Having a referendum on this matter would display the highest form of democracy," he said.
Seventh Day Adventists absent from both marches?
So it seems as The Seventh-Day Adventist Church (SDAC), Jamaica's largest single denominational group did not participate in the anti-gay peace march that the partnership prayer ministry — Prayer 2000 as reported by perpetual post a SDA linked blog. Nigel Coke, Communications Director for the Jamaica Union of Seventh-Day Adventists, told Perceptual Post that the church was not consulted on the matter hence they will not be participating.
In October of 2012, The Seventh-Day Adventist Church reaffirmed its stance against members of the LGBT community, but also softened the denomination’s position statement to offer compassion toward gays and lesbians.
The Church's Official Statement on Homosexuals states that "Jesus affirmed the dignity of all human beings and reached out compassionately to persons and families suffering the consequences of sin. He offered caring ministry and words of solace to struggling people, while differentiating His love for sinners from His clear teaching about sinful practices. As His disciples, Seventh-day Adventists endeavor to follow the Lord’s instruction and example, living a life of Christ-like compassion and faithfulness."
Also not to be outdone is our Prime Minister Mrs Portia Simpson Miller who seems to be making herself fast becoming irrelevant as she claimed she does not listen to news or criticisms and has been disturbingly silent on rather serious issues including loss of life yet a rumour of her using skin lightening creams to look lighter than her usual skin tone and that she wears a wig she found time to respond as was carried on Television Jamaica, TVJ last Saturday night. Her response to many of her critics was she was all about work, work, work and that she was busy working and her husband advised her to ignore detractors. How a Prime Minister does finds time to address a salacious rumour as that while the country is in a mess? Why would a Prime Minister be detained with mundane matters such as those? More cracks in the ranks seem apparent as the Education Minister Ronnie Thwaites and his recent rant on not allowing homosexual family life to be taught in school with the return of the sanitised and previously withdrawn Health and Family Life, HFLE manual, many are asking if he is on a frolic of his own while the Prime Minister is deafeningly silent with no mention from her office despite the public spat between the Ministry and the powerful (indeed PNP friendly) Jamaica Teachers’ Association, JTA and some in its leadership.
Actions such as that that she is presently displaying is undermining her premiership and yet one of her own powerful leaders under her watch differs on the conscience vote route as outlined by her which suggests something is not right somewhere, dissent in the ranks maybe and the silence on this statement in the media is puzzling. Is she under pressure within the party (apart from diplomatic shuffling) as it is not usual to see a General Secretary of the party diametrically opposed to what was suggested and promised by the leader? Let us watch this one. It is a worrying trend these outbursts by our Prime Minister and seeming posturing of her cabinet. Another disturbing development is the supposed call by anti gay activist Betty Ann Blaine under behind her children’s organization Hear The Children’s Cry to release the old Ambassador Peter King tapes surrounding his murder case and allegations of popular persons on those tapes in same sex orgies. Some talk show hosts have taken that call and attached a homo-paedophile construct to that implying that men of upstanding status are sodomizing boys in their homes. While there may be paedophiles in our society overall to use this old case to further push the anti gay agenda while erroneously conflating same gender sex with abuse. Jerry Small of Newstalk 93FM is one such talk show host who has repeated this construct and also added the murdered Russian Ambassador who was also at the scene that night he concludes a cover up was done to hide the men’s secret activities. I am not surprised that the Peter King matter would have returned as a basis to substantiate the homo-negative position. He accuses the Russian diplomatic core of covering this death as the men were abusing boys at the Jamaican ambassador’s home and thus the reason why he was murdered. The case as I remember it had adults and the accused was sentenced and is serving time, during the court case the gay panic defense was used to justify the reason for the accused actions (as typical in cases as this) and the testimony and evidence presented did not suggest or prove that young boys were at the home at that time or anytime or any other homo-paedophile activity. Furthermore persons I am familiar with who would congregate at the avenue sometimes such as displaced or homeless MSM have said the late Ambassador King was very strict when it came to boys around him and was a disciplinarian yet aspersions are cast on a dead man with very little way to prove or disprove them.
We do not know if any such sex tapes exist and if (a big if) he was involved in any such activity with under aged persons which I doubt I condemn it but the man is dead what would that serve now; bearing in mind laws already exist to protect children and the remedies exists to see them through any such despicable acts done to them if true. One thing we must always remember abuse is abuse despite the gender of the offender, their sexual orientation is immaterial as sexual attraction to children is a diagnosable disorder with the necessary pharmacological and psychological courses to address paedophilia or such deviations however homosexuality cannot be addressed in a similar fashion.
also see: The Anti Gay march at Heroes Circle HERE and Betty Ann Blaine’s arrant nonsense request of Peter King Tapes
also see CVM TV's coverage on the matter to which abortion is pinged, please watch in its entirety: