Video footage has emerged of an allegedly gay man being stoned to death in Jamaica. Whilst the video has been removed from YouTube, Jamaican LGBT+ advocate Dwayne Brown has embedded it on his blog. Given that the man was not responding at the beginning of the video, even before the stoning, it seems likely that extensive violence had already been carried out. According to Brown: “fear currently ripples through the entire community”. He says that the LGBT+ community is: “deeply sadden and heartbroken by the gruesome public execution of this young man in the streets of Jamaica”. Unconfirmed reports state that this occurred in Montego Bay, perhaps a week or two ago.
In view of its crimes against LGBT+ people, Jamaica has been labeled ‘the most homophobic country in the world’. The government maintains that: “there is no legal discrimination against persons on the grounds of their sexual orientation”, and are so confident that this is the case that they feel no need to create any anti-discrimination laws concerning sexual orientation or gender identity. The government’s sentiment is echoed by an Assistant Commissioner of Police, who believes accusations of homophobia are just “hype”, and life for LGBT+ people is improving. Instead, he believes the real problems are gay-on-gay crime, and people who cross-dress in public. His rejection of claims of his queerphobia and transphobia in the same interview reveals the sheer level of ignorance (US report). The same report includes evidence of the corrective rape of LGBT+ people by mobs, as well as hospital and prison staff. Polls suggesting 85.2% are opposed even to legalizing homosexual acts between consenting adults (this refers to male acts; female on female sexual acts are legal by omission). Queerphobia is widespread in several areas of Jamaican culture, including religion and music, with strong expectations of gender conformity.
Brae Carnes has started to post selfies in men’s toilets, showing male urinals in the background. She hopes to demonstrate the ludicrous effect of an amendment of Bill C-279. The bill aimed to change the Canadian Human Rights Act and Criminal Code to prevent discrimination based on gender identity and/or expression. Conservative Senator, Donald Plett, amended the bill with regards to ‘sex-specific’ facilities, including toilets. This decision was presumably the result of similar thought processes to those of Canada Family Action, who have stated: “There are two genders, and confusing our children by teaching otherwise is foolish and dangerous for the child’s future well-being. There are enough rules and regulations already.”
They believe that men will take advantage of this bill, gaining access to women’s toilets by cross-dressing and then sexually assaulting women. I feel the reaction comes from people who panic when gender barriers are struck down. The association lists several reasons for going against this bill, from the potential costs for businesses to ‘gender confusion’. It is clear that they really do not care about the effect on transgender people. Moreover, if one of their main concerns was rape in public toilets, why are they not examining ways to prevent the current potential for same-gender rape? Their vision of the world only consists of two-genders and presumably only opposite-gender sexual desire. It is not the fault of transgender people that rape occurs in society, and the government and society must work out how to prevent this without infringing on the rights of minorities. A human rights bill with a few exceptions does not constitute equal treatment or protection.
Egyptian police have arrested seven LGBT+ people on the charge of ‘debauchery’. The police created fake profiles online, luring these people to a club and allegedly promising debauched acts. Fujur, in English ‘debauchery’, is a hated word among LGBT+ Egyptians. In 1961, both it and prostitution were criminalized. Although there is not a strict definition of debauchery, it is generally accepted to mean women soliciting men for money – unless you are gay. The government considers it a useful way to justify queerphobia, since there is no law explicitly outlawing same-gender sexual acts.
In 2001, 52 men were arrested on the same charge on the Queen Boat, a floating gay nightclub. They were beaten by authorities and subjected to internal anal examination to determine their sexual orientation, sadly not an unheard of practice. The Egyptian media also published their full names and addresses, making them open to homophobic attack. The same accusation led to the arrest of 26 men in a police raid on a bathhouse last December. The men were led either naked or barely clothed into awaiting vans. They were eventually acquitted: but sadly, the same cannot be said for the eight men jailed last September for participating in a symbolic gay wedding. Allegedly the men organized a marriage celebration on a small boat on the Nile, and video footage of the event went public. 2014 was considered a particularly awful year for the LGBT+ community, with 150 people being arrested on charges related to sexuality and or gender.
Elliot Fitzgerald (GR. Columnist)