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08-19-2007, 08:15 PM

The Most Homophobic Place on Earth?

Wednesday, Apr. 12, 2006 By TIM PADGETT/KINGSTON (javascript:void(0))

Brian wears sunglasses to hide his gray and lifeless left eye—damaged, he says, by kicks and blows with a board from Jamaican reggae star Buju Banton. Brian, 44, is gay, and Banton, 32, is an avowed homophobe whose song Boom Bye-Bye decrees that gays "haffi dead" ("have to die"). In June 2004, Brian claims, Banton and some toughs burst into his house near Banton's Kingston recording studio and viciously beat him and five other men. After complaints from international human-rights groups, Banton was finally charged last fall, but in January a judge dismissed the case for lack of evidence. It was a bitter decision for Brian, who lost his landscaping business after the attack and is fearful of giving his last name. "I still go to church," he says as he sips a Red Stripe beer. "Every Sunday I ask why this happened to me."

Though familiar to Americans primarily as a laid-back beach destination, Jamaica is hardly idyllic. The country has the world's highest murder rate. And its rampant violence against gays and lesbians has prompted human-rights groups to confer another ugly distinction: the most homophobic place on earth.
In the past two years, two of the island's most prominent gay activists, Brian Williamson and Steve Harvey, have been murdered — and a crowd even celebrated over Williamson's mutilated body. Perhaps most disturbing, many anti-gay assaults have been acts of mob violence. In 2004, a teen was almost killed when his father learned his son was gay and invited a group to lynch the boy at his school. Months later, witnesses say, police egged on another mob that stabbed and stoned a gay man to death in Montego Bay. And this year a Kingston man, Nokia Cowan, drowned after a crowd shouting "batty boy" (a Jamaican epithet for homosexual) chased him off a pier. "Jamaica is the worst any of us has ever seen," says Rebecca Schleifer of the U.S.-based Human Rights Watch and author of a scathing report on the island's anti-gay hostility.
Jamaica may be the worst offender, but much of the rest of the Caribbean also has a long history of intense homophobia. Islands like Barbados still criminalize homosexuality, and some seem to be following Jamaica's more violent example. Last week two CBS News producers, both Americans, were beaten with tire irons by a gay-bashing mob while vacationing on St. Martin. One of the victims, Ryan Smith, was airbused to a Miami hospital, where he remains in intensive care with a fractured skull.
Gay-rights activists attribute the scourge of homophobia in Jamaica largely to the country's increasingly thuggish reggae music scene. Few epitomize the melding of reggae and gangsta cultures more than Banton, who is one of the nation's most popular dance-hall singers. Born Mark Myrie, he grew up the youngest of 15 children in Kingston's Salt Lane — the sort of slum dominated by ultraconservative Christian churches and intensely anti-gay Rastafarians. Banton parlayed homophobia into a ticket out of Salt Lane. One of his first hits, 1992's Boom Bye-Bye, boasts of shooting gays with Uzis and burning their skin with acid "like an old tire wheel."
Banton's lyrics are hardly unique among reggae artists today. Another popular artist, Elephant Man (O'Neil Bryant, 29) declares in one song, "When you hear a lesbian getting raped/ It's not our fault ... Two women in bed/ That's two Sodomites who should be dead." Another, Bounty Killer (Rodney Price, 33), urges listeners to burn "Mister Fagoty" and make him "wince in agony."
Reggae's anti-gay rhetoric has seeped into the country's politics. Jamaica's major political parties have passed some of the world's toughest antisodomy laws and regularly incorporate homophobic music in their campaigns. "The view that results," says Jamaican human-rights lawyer Philip Dayle, "is that a homosexual isn't just an undesirable but an unapprehended criminal."
Meanwhile, gay-rights activists say Jamaican police often overlook evidence in anti-gay hate crimes, such as the alleged assault by Banton in 2004. His accuser, Brian, says cops excised Banton's role from their reports of the 2004 beating. A police spokesman denies that. But in dismissing the case earlier this year, the judge in the trial warned Banton to avoid violence and "seek legal recourses" when he has complaints against gays in the future. Banton refused TIME's request for an interview. His manager, Donovan Germain, insists that the singer is innocent and that "Buju's lyrics are part of a metaphorical tradition. They're not a literal call to kill gay men."
There are some signs that Jamaica may soften its approach. Jamaica's ruling party last month elected the nation's first female Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller, a progressive who gay-rights supporters hope will eventually move to decriminalize homosexuality. She hasn't yet said that, but Jamaica's beleaguered gays say they at least have reason now to hope their government will change its tune before their reggae stars ever do.

08-20-2007, 12:13 PM
Sigasa was discovered with her hands tied together by her underpants and her ankles tied together by her shoelaces, with three bullet holes in her head and three in her collarbone. Masooa had been shot once. Local gay and human rights organizations said the physical evidence indicated the women had both been raped.

In another case, the body of 23-year-old Thokozane Qwabe was found in a field in Ladysmith on July 22 - she had multiple head wounds, was naked, and also showed evidence of having been raped.

Also last month, Simangele Nhlapo, a member of a support group for women living with HIV, and her two-year old daughter were both murdered - and the child's legs had been broken during the vicious attack.

In April, a 16-year-old lesbian, Madoe Mafubedu, was also raped and repeatedly stabbed, causing her death.

"Police spokespersons have consistently refused to describe these murders as 'hate crimes,'" wrote South African News 24 columnist Marianne Thamm, adding, "It is almost as if authorities fear that owning up to the homoprejudice that drives these crimes might oblige or require them to work differently in solving them. Perhaps they feel that categorizing these crimes as 'ordinary' might make them all go away."

South Africa has no hate crimes legislation. Four men briefly detained in the murders of Sigasa and Masooa, following what the gay and lesbian online magazine Behind The Mask (mask.org.za) described as "whistleblowing by the Meadowlands community," have been released "for lack of evidence," the South African Broadcasting Corporation reported.

Murders of LGBT people in South Africa frequently go unpunished.

Speaking this Tuesday at a meeting called by the student LGBT group Rainbow at the University of Cape Town to protest widespread anti-gay violence, openly gay and openly HIV-positive Supreme Court of Appeal Justice Edwin Cameron said that there is "rampant inequality and prejudice against gays and lesbians" in South Africa, and added, "We need to reach a point where everyone is protected in their lifestyles."

Cameron, a former defense lawyer for Nelson Mandela's African National Congress during the apartheid era, was appointed to the South African High Court, an appellate body one level below the Supreme Court of Appeal, more than a decade ago by Mandela, when he became president, and played a key role in securing inclusion of a ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation in the South African Constitution. (He also served a one-year interim term on the Constitutional Court, South Africa's highest, one level about the Supreme Court of Appeal.) But, Cameron said in his Tuesday remarks, "We have a long way to go before the constitutional promises are translated" into reality.

Also this Tuesday, New York City's South African Consulate on East 38th Street was the scene of a demonstration called to protest the wave of lesbian murders. The 60 demonstrators were led by South Africa's Nonhlanhla Mkhize, director of the Durban Lesbian and Gay Heath and Community Centre, who met with a consular official and handed him a letter demanding equal protection for LGBT people.

The demonstration was organized by an ad hoc committee, Liberation 4 All Africans, formed in response to the murders of Sigasa and Masooa by a group of self-described "lesbian and non-conforming" women from South Africa, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, and Kenya, all of whom reside in the New York area.

"The idea of an African diaspora group here in New York is really important," said Cary Alan Johnson, African specialist for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, or IGLHRC, which sponsored Durban activist Mkhize's visit here.

"It would be great if groups like this formed in Canada and in Europe to provide support to South African activists," Johnson told Gay City News, pledging that IGLHRC will work toward that end.

Human Rights Watch, in a press release on August 9, denounced the "climate of violent homophobia" in which "lesbians in South African townships are still targeted for rape and murder." The group "urged the government to launch public education campaigns to eliminate homophobic prejudice in all walks of life."

Mkhize, who spoke to Gay City News prior to the demonstration, said, "It's our hope that this becomes a global campaign looking at the whole continent of Africa at the end of the day."

Mkhize described a South African culture in which homophobia is rampant. "In South Africa, being gay is still understood to be a Western thing," she said, adding, "To be black and a woman and gay means you're in big trouble."

Mkhize said that the latest wave of lesbian murders is only the tip of the iceberg.

"There is greater violence against LGBT people than is being reported," she said. "Many of these incidents are not reported by the families of the victims, both because the victims are not open about their sexuality and because the families would not want to acknowledge the sexual orientation of their relatives."

And, she noted, "The police have their own prejudices. Since in South Africa there is no hate crimes law, the police don't understand what a hate crime is; there is nothing in their thinking to explain that."

Mkhize blasted the South African government of President Thabo Mbeki for failing to educate its police forces about homophobic violence, and for the absence of any curriculum of science-based sexual education which includes teaching about sexual orientation in the public schools, describing what she called "a failure of leadership" by South Africa's political class.

A good example of this political vacuum is the official silence about one of South Africa's most notorious gay murders, which has yet to come to court - the 2006 Cape Town mob attack on 19-year-old lesbian Zoliswa Nonkonyana, who was clubbed and stoned to death. The teenager had been walking home with a friend when a schoolgirl had taunted them for being "tomboys" who "needed to be raped." Later, a group of 20 schoolboys, armed with golf clubs, bricks, and knives accosted the two girls and chased them through the streets. Nonkonyana fell to the ground, and was beaten to death in full view of her father just yards from her home.

No one in authority has ever spoken out to condemn this horrendous crime.

Mkhize also said that although model sex education curricula and study guides addressing LGBT concerns and homophobia have been prepared by private and non-profit groups, the Mbeki government is "throwing up roadblocks" to their adoption in the schools.

"A survey by the gay group OUT showed that one-third of South Africa's LGBT students faced rape or sexual abuse," Mkhize said in underscoring the need for education regarding sexual tolerance and respect in schools.

Mkhize complained that on only two occasions have political leaders spoken out against homophobic violence. Following a 2003 massacre in a gay massage parlor in Cape Town - in which nine gay men had their throats slit by a group of four homo-hating thugs - the president of the traditionalist Inkatha Freedom Party declared that, although his party opposed homosexuality, violence should not be used against same-sexers. And in 2005, the leader of the tiny Independent Democrats party, Patricia de Lille, made a statement in support of lesbian and gay rights and against anti-LGBT violence.

Other than that, Mkhize said, political leaders have been notably silent on these issues

President Mbeki is a notorious HIV denialist, and was widely condemned last week by South African AIDS and LGBT groups for firing his deputy minister of Health, Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge, because she attended a conference on AIDS in Spain without permission. Her boss, Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, follows Mbeki's refusal to recognize HIV as the cause of AIDS, and has promoted garlic and lemon as a remedy for HIV, while condemning anti-retroviral medicines.

South African LGBT groups have also condemned the Mbeki government for having abstained late last month in a vote by the U.N. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) to accord consultative status to two organizations representing lesbian and gay interests - the Coalition Gaie et Lesbienne du Quebec and the Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Rights. The South African delegation gave no reason for its abstention on the 21-13 vote in favor of accrediting the two organizations.

As another sign of how Mbeki is "not so keen" to embrace gay and lesbian equality, as Mkhize put it, she pointed out that when her country's parliament legalized same-sex marriage in November 2006, he refused to sign the legislation into law, leaving that task to his deputy president.

And, echoing Justice Cameron, Mkhize said that South Africa's "public services are simply not living up to the Constitution's principles" on LGBT equality.

08-21-2007, 08:59 PM
Why the fuck you bringing S.A. shit into a thread about Jamaica?
Not just shit- a whole bunch of shit - that does has some relevance- but your not talking about the thread - your just bringing more news about a thread you made already.

Why? This is about Jamaica.

08-22-2007, 05:43 AM
the thread says the most homophobic place on earth, so i was showing you the most homophobic place on earth, you need to work on you attitude
in places like namibia they banned gays in zimbabwe mugabe doesn't want gays also in islamic countries they not tolerated

08-22-2007, 03:35 PM
The fuccin news article I posted has people that work for world human rights groups and they say Nothing compares to Jamaica when it comes to homophobia- READ READ REEEEAAAAADDDDDDDDDD

08-22-2007, 03:40 PM
Another thing yo- in Jamaica - they don't rape lesbians.

South Africans like to stick their dicks into anything they want. They wouldn't get away with that here or in Jamaica. No matter how fuccin big or tough they think they are.

08-22-2007, 09:47 PM
When I visited Jamaica, I seen this man running down the street, I mean RUNNING like his life was on the line and seconds later a mob was right behind him, after all this time it was his sexual status

I thought it was robbery...becuase did have an issue of stealing

09-05-2007, 04:34 PM
Another thing yo- in Jamaica - they don't rape lesbians.

South Africans like to stick their dicks into anything they want. They wouldn't get away with that here or in Jamaica. No matter how fuccin big or tough they think they are. over here we can get away with anything most of the time