*It is laughable how the same gays the JSL and JFLAG have banned are not being to source of their agenda’s push. ……… They were banned for their behavior years ago and now the Jamaican government is seemingly being forced to make accommodations for them. Please don’t believe them. READ
SEVERAL homosexuals who have been cast out of their homes and communities and are now living on the streets of Kingston, including some with the dreaded HIV virus, have been banned from the premises of the two most prominent advocacy groups in Kingston for bad behaviour.
These males, some of whom are commercial sex workers, are complaining that they no longer have the full support of advocates Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) and Jamaica Aids Support for Life (JASL), charging that they had left them defenceless against attacks from hostile ‘homophobes’ and even police officers bent on getting them off the streets.
“They say we are not allowed on their property because you have some ‘girls’ who go up there and behave bad,” a gay man admitted to the Sunday Observer in an interview at one of their popular hangouts in New Kingston.
He declined to be named, but gave examples of lewd brawls — some of which resulted in physical confrontation between gay men on J-FLAG’s Kingston premises — as the reason for the ban.
He said that as a result, those among them living with HIV had been struggling to access the vital and cost-free medical treatment they used to get.
Several of these homeless gays have also felt the chill of the night air as they are forced to sleep in abandoned buildings, their cries for help falling on deaf ears.
The JASL was established in 1991 with a mandate to provide stigma-free prevention, treatment, care and support services to Jamaicans living with HIV/AIDS islandwide.
J-FLAG is an advocacy organisation which provides support and intervention programmes for those who are victims or potential victims of violence because of their sexual orientation or gender identity discrimination.
Both J-FLAG executive director, Dane Lewis, and his JASL counterpart, Kandasi Levermore confirmed that some persons had been barred from visiting their organisations’ premises, but the ban only applied to an overly unruly few numbering seven.
“Yes, we have banned those who have violated the space because of their bad behaviour, but it’s not everybody that is banned from accessing our services,” said Lewis. “And it’s not that we don’t still look out for them,” he added.
But, another gay male, who also declined to be named for this article, but who sported women’s tights and spoke with the customary feminine drawl during the interview with the Sunday Observer, questioned the organisations’ decision even as he defended his friends.
“There is no way you can take on 20 to 30 gay persons from different backgrounds, different homes, with different personalities and expect them to behave perfect. It can’t go so,” he said while gesticulating wildly.
“You are going to have fights, you are going to have fuss, you are going to have quarrels, ’cause even in a normal family that happens. You understand? There is no way everything will go smoothly,” he said.
“If somebody start something you don’t ban the whole group! They need to ‘tan tuddy’ and make sure that the rules and regulations are applied.”
“Even on Thursdays they used to have a thing they called the K-package (at JASL). This was a programme they set up so that the homeless could go there and get lunch on a Thursday. Now the homeless can’t go there anymore,” said another member of the group.
“You have a number of homeless gays living in an anti-gay country, so to now have your own turn against you is not easy,” one of the men told the Sunday Observer.
They told stories of how they ended up selling gay sex for money and living in abandoned homes and on the streets and gullies in the capital city.
“Some of them on the streets have nowhere to go, their families put them out, they can’t go back to their communities and so they just out there suffering,” said one of them.
He claimed he knew a 15-year-old gay youth who was chased from his home and community after his sexual preference was discovered. One night, while on the streets, the police accosted him, beat him and chased he and others like him away from their corner. The teen reportedly took refuge in the home of someone he knew, sleeping in a back room. However, even there he was not safe as he was stabbed to death in a mysterious incident.
“He didn’t have anywhere to go, or anyone to help him. If JFLAG or JAS(L) did help him when him family put him out, he would still be alive today,” said his friend.
“…That organisation was built to protect the rights of gays in Jamaica, but now we are not able to go there and access anything. They not protecting us at all. Once we could go there and access services and make reports and then they would try to venture out and see what they could do to uphold the rights of the gays,” another young man said.
But Lewis insists that his organisation still does what it can for those gay males in need as long as they are well-behaved.
“Anyone who has not violated the rules because of bad behaviour has not been denied access to our services as far as I know.”
For JASL, Levermore said: “We have generated a list of about seven guys that are, in fact, banned from the AIDS Support property,” she said.
“However, that does not prohibit us from bringing the services to them. And from time to time we do have outreach where we take some of the services out to the guys. The seven in particular, they fight, they quarrel, they stab up (each other) and you name it. And they just behave in a manner that is just not appropriate for even in your home.”
She said the ban had to be imposed as their outrageous behaviour was a turn-off to those legitimately seeking help from the organisation.
“It pushes our other clients away from seeking our services because of these same guys… when the other clients come, they have to put up with the kind of behaviour that these guys carry on with. Other than that, it makes it a very unhealthy environment for the staff at Jamaica Aids Support for Life. We have in many ways asked, begged, solicited, (be)friend(ed), we have tried everything to get these guys to understand that their behaviour is unacceptable and we have asked them to amend, adjust, all of that to no avail.”
She said as recently as last August 6, there was an altercation involving some MSM (men who have sex with men) that resulted in someone being stabbed on the property.
She insisted that it was not a permanent ban and her organisation had not cut its services to the gay homeless population in New Kingston.
“Usually a ban is for a period of time. It’s not that they are totally restricted. Depending on the offence there would be a time frame affixed. Many times we have had to call the police or the security company that does monitoring for us. We have to be panicking every minute when these guys are fighting on the property.
“So once it gets out of hand, it’s usually things that are an offence against the law, and then we have to put some restrictions in place, especially after we would have intervened and asked them to cease and desist and the behaviours continue.”