“This government led by this Prime Minister lifts up to our children the ideal of faithful love and marriage between a man and a woman as the basis of a family even as we insist on tolerance and love for those who are exposed to homosexuality but let it be clear Mr Speaker we will not be grooming children towards same sex unions and we will not be distributing condoms in schools. Guidance counsellors and their counterparts in the school and community health care systems they must know what to do when a student is in danger of sexual abuse but school is not a ramping shop, restraint must be taught by example and precepts, sex education yes, condoms no”
He continued regarding the withdrawn yet forward thinking Home and Family Life Education manual that in part spoke to homosexuality, anal sex and a guided imagery exercise of role reversal which was to be conducted in a supervised environment by specially trained counsellors/teachers he said “ .... A positive value laidened age appropriate health and family life curriculum has been revised by a broad based working group for required use in all schools by September.”
Some lunacy here from the goodly minister or playing to the gallery seeing the party/administration has lost some major political capital post the IMF negotiations and confidence in the economy. It is not the first time of course we have seen the issue of homosexuality being made a platform for great pontificating and moral material while playing to the religious right’s imperative. What was also interesting is that the withdrawn HFLE manual is a voluminous document that spoke to several other wholesome developmental issues yet for one section it was removed out of fear.
So teaching children how to think on tolerance in regards to homosexuality is seen as grooming them to accept gay marriage? It is unbelievable the fear and paranoia coming from the powers that be in the education ministry, some people are gay, bisexual or the other variants we all have to come to that realization sooner or later. I am not surprised regarding the gay marriage bit and lumping all of that as a drive to homosexualize the nation as it were, it was in 2009 when the Bruce Golding administration rode the invented gay marriage discussion as a ploy to cloud the then Charter of Rights debate when the powerful religious lobby Lawyers’ Christian Fellowship, LCF also took part in seeing to it that certain key words were removed from the language in fear of any supposed loop holes for any rights or recognition of homosexuality in their eyes. Also at that time the then opposition leader who is now the Prime Minister referred to by Minister Thwaites sided with the Bruce Golding administration on not to gay marriage On October 20, 2009 where she said “Mr Speaker when we accepted the final report from the committee that looked at the bill we were completely satisfied with their recommendation of a provision to restrict marriage and liked relationships to one man and one woman within Jamaica and that the provision should specifically spelt out so that there could be no ambiguity (applause) yes! One man one woman and if you are Jamaican and you go overseas the same applies.” (applause) she continued that on highly sensitive matters such as these overseas supporters and governments must recognise the voice of the majority, she also continued that if same sex marriage was legalized it will lead to chaos in the country. The same charter also spoke to non-discrimination in terms of class, moving about and association but apparently certain things must not apply to some minorities;
The tyranny of the majority?
Red herrings here as per usual? ...... Of course to get everyone worked up
Scared or coward politicians who can’t make the bold decisions needed?
Where is the real tolerance in all of this?
We seem to have a different sense for human rights as it is not universal as is espoused prior to that as well during the P. J. Patterson administration in 2006 the then Minister of Justice A. J Nicholson prepared a statement on No To Gay Marriage at the time and given the recent dodge by the present administration now on the suggested buggery review by Mrs Simpson Miller during the last leadership debate prior to the December 2011 election it is clear that the issues of homosexuality and condoms are being lumped to make it into a political football for mileage. Let us also not forget that at no time was there any agitation for gay marriage rights or state benefits for same sex couples in Jamaica when we can’t even get passed just privacy, consensual sex and more progressive legislation alongside the deep seated cultural rejection so engrained in our psyche. I was not fooled from the start as was some advocates who hailed Mrs Simpson Miller’s suggestion as a promise only to have their hopes dashed, we must get used to Jamaican politicians by now and how they operate and with a powerful religious group and churches right behind them they will feel justified to take the so called higher ground yet look at the hypocrisy where children in lockups, the indigent and other afflicted groups are treated and silence from those same churches not to mention the politically skewed Jamaica Council of Churches who only seem to be very vocal when the Jamaica Labour Party is in power. Besides the law as in the marriage act in Jamaica presently will not allow gay marriages in the first place as it clearly states it is between a man and a woman and will take major amendments to include same gender loving persons. In 2001 there was a presentation made to the committee deliberating the Charter at the time with regards to discrimination but it was avoided via intellectual gymnastics as per usual. The avenue of challenging the marriage act has not been used even though the avenue exists and the reason why the discrimination clause was overlooked was due to a fear that such a challenge would come in the future counter to the charter. In other words no loopholes must be left for gays to get any rights now and in the future, a principle that was used also in the Sexual Offences Bill debate and the parliamentary submission regarding the buggery law in 1998.
Teenage pregnancies are up as much as 18%; HIV/AIDS rates are of concern with teenage girls in particular as the trends suggest older men are having sexual contact quite regularly. Initiation is also a challenge and withholding information and instilling an abstinence only messaging is not practical in today’s world. I will admit I was not pleased with the way the discourse on the suggestion of condom distribution in schools was handled properly by the press, the church (who owns and runs several high schools) the respective stake holders including the Ministry of Health’s and related national HIV programs and the public, what should have been made clear is distribution from a certain age upwards with the relevant information and skill sets provided and shared. Schools would not just become a condom slot machine where teens can simply get condoms as they please, there will have to be monitoring, counselling, information dissemination and other alternative activities presented as options for sexually active teens.
If we were to follow the authorities one would walk away thinking that the present set of adults were not young once with urges and desires, attractions and indeed initiation and experimentation and as the austerity measures take effect of sorts all kinds of methods are now being found to cut where possible and this cop out from handling sex and sexuality matters even as the minister himself recognises initiation and despite the finding that 60% girls of one class at a Kingston school were mothers, he also said in his presentation, “The education system in Jamaica recognizes that many children are initiated into sexual activity during their classroom years, some of the mass media, the carnival culture and confused family values are among forces who weaken the truth that premature sex is seat if true love”
As he imputes motive in the line with the word “forces” his continued belief that some invisible hand somewhere is trying to force homosexuality on the nation’s children during the preparation of the previous version of the HFLE manual that he now says is revised and now our kids will get a sanitized version and yet again we hide the real truth from them when they themselves know more about sex than the adults who teach them. He however encouraged school administrators to re-engage pregnant teens and not to shun them. The occasional preachy scripture related lines must be noted as well in his presentation.
And what about prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted infection in the face of the fact that many teens are not going to remain sexless or virgins by thirteen years of age? Many students during the waiting period of the review of the withdrawn HFLE manual were not attending related classes according a small check I did. My neighbour’s grand daughter who attends Alpha Academy has the textbook equivalent to the manual at level 3 and when I quizzed her about the classes she said that no classes has happened and the students welcomed the free period on that given day on the time table. So valuable time has been lost, God knows what mistakes have been made or what could have been avoided.
Fear is a hell of a thing why is there the conflation with same gender sex and abuse or homo-paedophilia so pronounced and how can it be addressed? The teaching of same sex couples as a form of the newer family unit is not precluding the traditional heterosexual unit or taking away rights from such persons. Of course the gay lobby predominantly JFLAG whose stewardship by now you my readers realise am not pleased with will be relying on the law suit coming up in May and June by two persons on the ad rejection by both television stations and the challenge to the buggery law in a sense by activist/blogger Javed Jaghai. Very little came from the aforementioned persons/groups when the HFLE manual was withdrawn earlier this year possible showing how out of touch they are with how connected all of this is to the homophobia we have faced over the decades. I have long concluded that it is because of the lack of the proper curriculum on sex and sexuality over generations why we are at the chronic homophobic position. If we were taught not to fear sex, see homosexuality as orientation and not to hate but seek to understand the issues, abstinence as well as sexual negotiations with safer sex, self esteem and sexuality we would not have the psyche of fear and hate of the feminine and the unknown.
The latter mentioned fears has made homophobia well grounded in our nation and is going to take generations to change the thinking despite persons well travelled or exposed to other cultures. The so called family values that are used as reasons to avoid discussing difference and sexualities but the pathologies of said family life issues in a Christian sense are hidden or driven from a pulpit without any room for engagement for persons who have issues in their lives, marriage for example a discussion on Love 101FM on May 16, 2013 openly spoke to this in a very rare occasion marriage is pushed forward as if once one gets married in the church with God as its centre then all is well when this could not be further from the truth as the same issues of discovered incompatibilities show up after the ring is on, domestic violence, cheating, high rates of divorces within the church itself and down low issues as well where persons struggling with homosexual or bisexual urges marry to avoid, try to change or suppress such feelings and orientation.
Even as May is observed as Family month in certain church denominations it is clear that the very family values that more and more seem to be adopting very exclusionary ideologies is going against the very word of God and he sent his son to embrace the outcast yet homosexuals are supposedly viewed as poisoned individuals where even some anti gay voices have gone as far as creating “others” by using very degrading description to make scapegoats for their hate, what about the basic premise of judge not and not be judged or do unto others? Misplaced aggression hidden under a platform of religiosity here is at work I think and it reminds me of the fact that it was the Scribes (similar to modern day theologians) and Pharisees who were Jesus’ strongest opponents simply because he reached the poor and the ordinary yet it was Rome’s intellectual, political and legal systems that were made as weapons to crucify him with deception becoming a major tool for this new type of theocracy in other words enemies and fraudsters within who pontificate on virtuous platforms. The theology is in the sociology basically, if the church or religiosity is not willing to step into the present reality or become accommodative to difference then how long can it survive being insular and holding fast to some older ideologies that do not make sense in today’s world?
And if winning souls for the kingdom is supposed to be the work involved here for the church on earth then using derogatory terms, separatists ideology hidden in theological mumbo jumbo and hypocrisy in the name of Christ to create “others” so they can be made infectious, then where is the witness component here, is it only preaching to the converted and keeping themselves to themselves the ultimate goal here is that what Christian witness has come to or where is the leadership by example?
So we remain at a standstill as the education ministry decides to remain in the old ages regarding sex and sexuality at the expense of our young.
In a follow up press briefing the minister made it clear he was not afraid of a backlash from the gay lobby, “Fear is not an issue in this it’s a question of what is right” he continued that advocating the homosexual lifestyle is not in line with the mood of the Jamaican people or what is right and moral, “We must be very careful that in the interest of tolerance we do not allow minority groups to defeat majority sentiments.” In other words I interpret that as stay in your place as minority voices and protection are unimportant in his eyes.
Peace and tolerance
Flashback to 2012