The Safe House 2009 Pilot for LGBTQ Youth Explained & more

In response to numerous requests for more information on the defunct Safe House Pilot Project that was to address the growing numbers of displaced and homeless LGBTQ Youth in New Kingston in 2007/8/9, a review of the relevance of the project as a solution, the possible avoidance of present issues with some of its previous residents if it were kept open.
Recorded June 12, 2013; also see from the former Executive Director named in the podcast more background on the project: HERE also see the beginning of the issues from the closure of the project: The Quietus ……… The Safe House Project Closes and The Ultimatum on December 30, 2009

Friday, May 24, 2013

JFLAG excludes homeless MSM from IDAHO Symposium on guess what? .......... HOMELESSNESS!

I am still trying to recover from all that has been happening in recent times with community challenges but now to see that on May 17, 2013 International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, IDAHOT a symposium named in the founder and general secretary of the defunct Gay Freedom Movement at the Courtleigh Hotel to discuss as the flyer above states homelessness yet the very representative group was NOT invited or present at the event. A war of words has since erupted and sadly I caught on late being involved in several other activities within the last few weeks, included interestingly in the ongoing spat are the former Program's Manager of JFLAG now residing in Canada, other stakeholders who are straight allies and JFLAG's management itself.

So heated as the rift become that a statement over the signature of the Executive Director Mr. Dane Lewis has come to hand which read as follows:

Response to lack of homeless at Larry Chang Human Rights Symposium

We appreciate the frustrations of all those who wonder why the voices and bodies of homeless individuals were absent from the panel at the inaugural Larry Chang Human Rights Symposium. This was not a matter of oversight, as the organization agrees that the voices in the homeless community are critical if we are to find solutions to the issue of high levels of homelessness among LGBT Jamaicans.

The coordinators of the symposium agonized over the potential absence of this group’s perspective and spoke at length about the need to be inclusive. Ultimately, they decided against inviting some of the men who are currently homeless to speak for ethical reasons. Many will disagree on this point, but we felt that fêting and tokenizing any of these men before returning them to the street while the rest of us returned to our homes was problematic and difficult to justify. In human and social development work, there is much criticism of groups who fetishize the suffering of vulnerable and marginalized groups—regardless of how great an organization's intentions are. Knowing fully well that the absence of homeless individuals from the panel would raise eyebrows, the organization made a principled decision that we stand by.

At the same time, even if it would be unethical to invite a homeless person to speak at the symposium, the coordinators of the program believed that including the perspectives of formerly homeless members of our community would help to shed some light on the homeless experience. During its operation, J-FLAG has supported many homeless individuals who turned to the organization soon after they were evicted from their homes and communities. Most were able to find a home in other communities, some sought asylum and now live abroad as refugees, while a few others remain homeless. Some of the most vocal individuals who have experienced high levels of displacement now live in the Diaspora and while many of them would be willing to return to Jamaica to speak about their experiences, they were unable to travel to Jamaica because of the conditions of their resident status in their adopted countries. We know this because we reached out to individuals who we felt were at the place in their journeys where they would be comfortable speaking to a public audience about intensely personal and painful experiences. Speakers were sought locally as well, but we were unable to find anyone who was willing to come out publicly. This is a concern we must wrestle with as J-FLAG seeks to move out of the shadows and increase the visibility of our work.

The Larry Chang Human Rights symposium was a public event open to our partners, members of the community and the public. Representatives from the media were invited and we also hired a photographer to cover the event. Recognizing the importance of documenting our programs for online audiences and for posterity, the event was live streamed and was recorded. We are now thinking about the best way to share the recording without jeopardizing the safety or violating the trust of the speakers and the attendants of the symposium.

J-FLAG interfaces with homeless LGBT group through its Crisis Intervention Programme. Both J-FLAG and Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL) have participated in and facilitated numerous consultations with the subset of homeless in the Golden Triangle area in closed sessions as well as meetings with the New Kingston police, the Member of Parliament for the area, representatives of the business community, the mayor and the councillor. Despite efforts to collaborate with other NGO's and government institutions the task to launch a comprehensive project to house and rehabilitate these vulnerable individuals has fallen squarely on J-FLAG's lap. While we believe a collaborative effort that involves all stakeholders would be more successful, we recognize and take ownership of the responsibility that we have to respond to the needs of this segment of our community. J-FLAG expanded its programming for the homeless community and we have had up to three members of our staff working almost exclusively to support this group.

For over a year, J-FLAG sought a residential location for a safe house program. Until very recently, we also facilitated a feeding program that was suspended because of difficulties coordinating it without a main office in addition to funding constraints that we hope to resolve soon. The absence of homeless men from the symposium should not suggest that J-FLAG is not aware of and does not attend to the needs of these individuals. Without question, in the last year, they have received more of J-FLAG's resources on a per capita basis than any other subgroup in our community. We do not bemoan this fact. These men and transgender women are undeniably the most vulnerable group in our LGBT family and we continue to do all we can to support them.

Larry questioned the potential absence of homeless individuals in his presentation and Yvonne McCalla Sobers, convener of FAST (Families Against State Terrorism) noted the concern as well during the discussion segment. We are thankful that they raised the matter, because it shows that our community feels comfortable holding J-FLAG accountable to its mission. As representatives of the LGBT community in Jamaica and advocates for inclusivity, we agree that the absence of the perspectives of current or formerly homeless individuals may have reduced the quality and the impact of the symposium. We, too, are disappointed but we are content that we tried our best to bring together a cohort of speakers that could help to spur conversations about the treatment of LGBT people in Jamaica. This is one in a number of conversations that needs to be had about the issue.

As noted in our invitation, the symposium considered high levels of homelessness among Jamaican LGBT people as an outcome of the hostile cultural environment. While their unique perspective was not featured on the panel, some of the presenters spoke at length about the need to humanize the homeless in our community and to critically assess how our treatment of them betrays our self-hatred. The symposium also explored homelessness as a philosophical concept related to citizenship. Through various agents of socialization, we are taught that gender and sexual minorities do not belong in our communities. LGBT people therefore understand that they can be evicted from their communities without notice and might be forced to flee the island. LGBT

identities in Jamaica are shaped by an understanding that our sexual and gender identities do not align with our cultural and national identities. This creates angst, dissonance and ambivalence in our sense of being Jamaican.

The documented dangers of identifying and being recognized as LGBT in Jamaica led countries like Canada, the United States and the Netherlands to grant refugee status to those who can prove that there is a reasonable possibility that someone may try to hurt them. This is the first time J-FLAG hosted a forum to openly discuss the situations that lead to asylum and the process for obtaining refugee status in the United States, which is one of the major locations that LGBT Jamaicans seek refuge. The symposium also offered us an opportunity to honor the work of Larry Chang, and to situate the modern movement for LGBT equality in Jamaica as a decades-long struggle as opposed to a 21st century phenomenon.

J-FLAG welcomes feedback from our community. We will continue to develop and sustain programs that address the needs of the most vulnerable among us. We know there is much more work to be done and so we will continue to work towards a successful rehabilitation program. If anyone has any additional concerns or suggestions for how to improve our programming, not just around homelessness, we encourage you to send us an email at, send us a message on our Facebook page, or ask us a question here. Myself, Jaevion and Javed monitor this space and we are more than willing to listen and learn as we try to make J-FLAG a more effective organization.

Dane Lewis

Executive Director

 Yvonne McCallah Sobers of Families Against State Terrorism makes a point during the symposium, apparently she was the one who asked the all important question as to the absence of the homeless men

Singer Tanya Stephens of "Do You Still Care" fame makes her presentation

Carole Narcisee of the Jamaica Civil Society Coalition makes a point 

No report has been released since the symposium or as at the preparation of this entry.

Sad that this is where we are with this issue with marked culture of secrecy continuing as open discourse on social media groups is quashed (to hide something?) and trying to justify this most egregious error in judgement of the representative population being left out on a discussion about them, I was invited to attend but never bothered and thankfully I made the right decision. Some of the comments now coming to light have reflected my concerns about the service delivery and response to a long standing problem of the lack of proper leadership and foresight coupled with an elitist corporatist mentality, for e. g.

"What you do here is exactly what an organisation like the JCF is so skilled at doing to those perceived as its critics, Twisting words, dealing with personalities rather than issues or principles, assuming that comments are intended to "wear down individuals" rather than to challenge the organisation to do better at what it was set up to do. And then there is the labelling and the name-calling that says more about the person who uses the terms - like "callous and uncaring" - than those who are the targets of the barely veiled cussing. Been there and experienced that for over a decade when people corn get mash.

Hopefully, the defensiveness can end soon, and some problem-solving can begin. Meantime, have fun!!"
"............... your position sounds like something I hear from politicians when I advocate accountability when police kill people's children in what the police claim to be a shootout. So good people will say something like this, to borrow from your post,"I would just love for us to keep our discussions at the level that does not tear down an entire infrastructure just to make a small point. The people who work in [the police force] have real lives and they live in a real society. When we disagree with them by attacking them and they get worn down by that pressure, we gain nothing. In fact, we all lose. One thing that marginalised people must unlearn is the division around inessentials. We have been so thoroughly schooled in divisiveness it has become difficult for us to see the essentials." In other words, don't critique in the hope of improving the work of the JCF (or J-FLAG in the present discussion) because they will see a critique as an attack on the hardworking men and women of the force." 

"It is my view that a lot of the rot in this country was caused because too many people kept quiet about things that were just not right. So those who spoke out were silenced or silenced themselves. As a result, coming generations pay the price for deterioration that could have been stopped if leaders had put their egos aside for a while, and used the criticism to grow the organisation and the country."

"As an example, I was in a meeting 20 years ago between the then Minister of Education and a group of students. One student asked the Minister what he was going to do about the violence in schools that most were not aware of at the time, it was so relatively minor. The Minister became irate and construed the concern as an attack. he said that matters like that should be raised with the police as security was not an educational matter. The Minister may well have seen the youth as trying to "tear down the infrastructure to make a small point." The lesson the youth learned that day was to mistrust his instincts and keep his opinions to himself no matter how valid he felt his concerns to be. Today, violence in Jamaican schools is close to endemic."

"Smart organisations prefer to have criticism in the open, and regard critics as friends intent on seeing the organisation improve. For the good of the LGBT community, JFLAG needs to appreciate take the criticisms as providing the organisation with evaluation that consultants would charge hefty fees to do only half as well and with none of the heart. J-FLAG needs all the help it can get. but some of the sentiments expressed on this thread suggest that J-FLAG leaders are trying to jettison those who have supported the cause before the organisation was created. I for one was trodding with Brian Williamson from the 1980s."

"The request to move the question to private e-mail does not say much for transparency. The question is not about someone's private business, but about a public event. Trust comes with transparency, and secrecy resembles fear of being found out, unless the questions relate to personal and private matters."

The best one:
Inviting the homeless to a symposium on homelessness would be relevant only it it were assumed that the topic needed the input of those actually experiencing homelessness. Just as it would have been useful to have HIV+ persons invited to a symposium on living with HIV. 

However, i am learning that the symposium was really about the homelessness of gays who are forced to migrate. However, it seems the keynote speaker, Larry Chang (gay and forced to migrate) was under the same mistaken impression. He addressed himself to the homeless gays in New Kingston, and said he hoped some of them were present in the audience. He was the only speaker to offer some kind of solution for the problems of our homeless gay men.

The attorney who spoke confirmed what is known - that Jamaican gay men who apply for asylum have few problems getting it. So the topic of the symposium was essentially a non-issue for the LGBT community. No wonder there needed to be no "next steps" or no action such as fund-raising or deepening of partnerships to solve a problem however identified..

Such a pity the symposium was not used as a catalyst for addressing the challenges gay and lesbian youth face when they are thrown out of their homes and join forces to survive on Kingston's volatile streets. But that may have needed a different event with organisers making different "considered decisions" and presentations targeting different goals.

The press release factory kicks into effect again, see what you make of all this folks but it is clear what is at work here and my voice will not be closed by the establishment as a recent comment to one of my audiopost/podcast on the eviction issue of the J in the context of the homelessness matter over time from a former Management Committee member of JFLAG reflects the culture that still resides there:

I am concerned: In a homophobic society, is it fair to expect J-FLAG to easily find a home? Is it fair to compare the homelessness of these young men with the homelessness of J-FLAG? The bigger picture is being missed, I think. It seems as if there is some gloating over the officelessness of J-FLAG, as if that helps the homeless men. Officelessness is not comparable to HOMElessness! Bellyaching about the loss of a space by J-FLAG is less a problem for J-FLAG than it is for those served by the organisation!

I just saw it...and i waiting to know who is the producer and the writer and the person speaking to ask them a few questions of my own..hopefully some light will be shed soon

"We are pretending here as if J-FLAG is awash with cash to support a safe house. The thinking and introspection necessary is for us to strategise as a community to make the work being done by organisations such a J-FLAG possible."

it is obvious we have a long way yet to go on anything especially social justice issues on the ground and I am glad I saw the criticism of my audio entry as those usually are remained hidden. I am just beside myself with the clear blatant disregard for the least amongst us save and except when one of them gets really hurt or maimed then we see the PR goes into full effect crying homophobia!

more on my podcast:

Also in the Observer May 26, 2013

Youth homelessness is no joke

UPDATE June 5, 2013 - the video finally has arrived watch and listen carefully

Peace and tolerance



Aphrodite's P.R.I.D.E Jamaica, APJ launched their website

Aphrodite's P.R.I.D.E Jamaica, APJ launched their website on December 1 2015 on World AIDS Day where they hosted a docu-film and after discussions on the film Human Vol 1

audience members interacting during a break in the event

film in progress

visit the new APJ website HERE

See posts on APJ's work: HERE (newer entries will appear first so scroll to see older ones)


CVM TV carried a raid and subsequent temporary blockade exercise of the Shoemaker Gully in the New Kingston district as the authorities respond to the bad eggs in the group of homeless/displaced or idling MSM/Trans persons who loiter there for years.

Question is what will happen to the population now as they struggle for a roof over their heads and food etc. The Superintendent who proposed a shelter idea (that seemingly has been ignored by JFLAG et al) was the one who led the raid/eviction.

Also see:

the CVM NEWS Story HERE on the eviction/raid taken by the police

also see a flashback to some of the troubling issues with the populations and the descending relationships between JASL, JFLAG and the displaced/homeless GBT youth in New Kingston: Rowdy Gays Strike - J-FLAG Abandons Raucous Homosexuals Misbehaving In New Kingston

also see all the posts in chronological order by date from Gay Jamaica Watch HERE and GLBTQ Jamaica HERE


see previous entries on LGBT Homelessness from the Wordpress Blog HERE

May 22, 2015, see: MP Seeks Solutions For Homeless Gay Youth In New Kingston

War of words between pro & anti gay activists on HIV matters .......... what hypocrisy is this?

War of words between pro & anti gay activists on HIV matters .......... what hypocrisy is this?

A war of words has ensued between gay lawyer (AIDSFREEWORLD) Maurice Tomlinson and anti gay activist Dr Wayne West as both accuse each other of lying or being dishonest, when deception has been neatly employed every now and again by all concerned, here is the post from Dr West's blog

This is laughable to me as both gentleman have broken the ethical lines of advocacy respectively repeatedly especially on HIV/AIDS and on legal matters concerning LGBTQ issues

The evidence is overwhelming readers/listeners, you decide.

Other Entries you can check out

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Homeless MSM Challenges and relationships with agencies overview ........

In a shocking move JFLAG decided not to invite or include homeless MSM in their IDAHO activity for 2013 thus leaving many in wonderment as to the reason for their existence or if the symposium was for "experts" only while offering mere tokenism to homeless persons in the reported feeding program. LISTEN TO THE AUDIO ENTRY HERE sad that the activity was also named in honour of one of JFLAG's founders who joined the event via Skype only to realise the issue he held so dear in his time was treated with such disrespect and dishonour. Have LGBT NGOs lost their way and are so mainstream they have forgotten their true calling?

also see a flashback to some of the issues with the populations and the descending relationships between JASL, JFLAG and the displaced/homeless LGBT youth in New Kingston: Rowdy Gays Strike - J-FLAG Abandons Raucous Homosexuals Misbehaving In New Kingston

also see all the posts in chronological order by date from Gay Jamaica Watch HERE and GLBTQ Jamaica HERE


see previous entries on LGBT Homelessness from the Wordpress Blog HERE

Newstalk 93FM's Issues On Fire: Polygamy Should Be Legalized In Jamaica 08.04.14

debate by hosts and UWI students on the weekly program Issues on Fire on legalizing polygamy with Jamaica's multiple partner cultural norms this debate is timely.

Also with recent public discourse on polyamorous relationships, threesomes (FAME FM Uncensored) and on social.

Popular Posts

RJR - Surprise Yes vote by Ja on Sexual Orientation Removal from Summary Executions Resolution

Beyond the Headlines host Dionne Jackson Miller has Arlene Harrison Henry and Maurice Tonlinson on Human RIghts Day 2012 on the the removal of language in the form of sexual orientation on the Summary Executions UN Resolution - On November 21, 2012, Jamaica voted[1] against resolution A/C.3/67/L.36 at the United Nations condemning extra-judicial, summary or arbitrary executions which urges States “to investigate promptly and thoroughly all killings, including… all killings committed for any discriminatory reason, including sexual orientation

Homeless MSM evicted from Cargill Avenue (evening edition)

28/08/12 CVM TV again rebroadcast a story of homeless MSM and the deplorable living conditions coupled with the almost sensationalistic narrative of the alleged commercial sex work the men are involved in. Gay Jamaica Watch has been following this issue since 2009 when the older populations of MSMs who were for the most part displaced due to forced evictions and homo negative issues and their re-displacement by agencies who on the face of it refused to put in place any serious social interventions to assist the men to recovery CLICK HERE for the CLIP

Information, Disclaimer and more

Not all views expressed are those of GJW

This blog contains pictures and images that may be disturbing. As we seek to highlight the plight of victims of homophobic violence here in Jamaica, the purpose of the pics is to show physical evidence of claims of said violence over the years and to bring a voice of the same victims to the world.

Many recover over time, at pains, as relocation and hiding are options in that process. Please view with care or use theHappenings section to select other posts of a different nature.

Not all persons depicted in photos are gay or lesbian and it is not intended to portray them as such, save and except for the relevance of the particular post under which they appear.

Please use the snapshot feature to preview by pointing the cursor at the item(s) of interest. Such item(s) have a small white dialogue box icon appearing to their top right hand side.

God Bless

Other Blogs I write to:
Recent Homophobic Incidents CLICK HERE for related posts/labels from glbtqjamaica's blog & HERE for those I am aware of.


Steps to take when confronted by the police & your rights compromised:

a) Ask to see a lawyer or Duty Council

b) Only give name and address and no other information until a lawyer is present to assist

c) Try to be polite even if the scenario is tense

d) Don’t do anything to aggravate the situation

e) Every complaint lodged at a police station should be filed and a receipt produced, this is not a legal requirement but an administrative one for the police to track reports

f) Never sign to a statement other than the one produced by you in the presence of the officer(s)

g) Try to capture a recording of the exchange or incident or call someone so they can hear what occurs, place on speed dial important numbers or text someone as soon as possible

h) File a civil suit if you feel your rights have been violated

i) When making a statement to the police have all or most of the facts and details together for e.g. "a car" vs. "the car" represents two different descriptions

j) Avoid having the police writing the statement on your behalf except incases of injuries, make sure what you want to say is recorded carefully, ask for a copy if it means that you have to return for it

Notes on Bail & Court Appearance issues

If in doubt speak to your attorney

Bail and its importance -
If one is locked up then the following may apply:

Locked up over a weekend - Arrested pursuant to being charged or detained There must be reasonable suspicion i.e. about to commit a crime, committing a crime or have committed a crime. There are two standards that must be met:
1). Subjective standard: what the officer(s) believed to have happened

2). Objective standard: proper and diligent collection of evidence that implicates the accused To remove or restrain a citizen’s liberty it cannot be done on mere suspicion and must have the above two standards

 Police officers can offer bail with exceptions for murder, treason and alleged gun offences, under the Justice of the Peace Act a JP can also come to the police station and bail a person, this provision as incorporated into the bail act in the late nineties

 Once a citizen is arrested bail must be considered within twelve hours of entering the station – the agents of the state must give consideration as to whether or not the circumstances of the case requires that bail be given

 The accused can ask that a Justice of the Peace be brought to the station any time of the day. By virtue of taking the office excluding health and age they are obliged to assist in securing bail

"Bail is not a matter for daylight"

Locked up and appearing in court:
 Bail is offered at the courts office provided it was extended by the court; it is the court that has the jurisdiction over the police with persons in custody is concerned.

 Bail can still be offered if you were arrested and charged without being taken to court a JP can still intervene and assist with the bail process.

Other Points of Interest:
 The accused has a right to know of the exact allegation

 The detainee could protect himself, he must be careful not to be exposed to any potential witness

 Avoid being viewed as police may deliberately expose detainees

 Bail is not offered to persons allegedly with gun charges

 Persons who allegedly interfere with minors do not get bail

 If over a long period without charge a writ of habeas corpus however be careful of the police doing last minute charges so as to avoid an error

 Every instance that a matter is brought before the court and bail was refused before the accused can apply for bail as it is set out in the bail act as every court appearance is a chance to ask for bail

 Each case is determined by its own merit – questions to be considered for bail:

a) Is the accused a flight risk?
b) Are there any other charges that the police may place against the accused?
c) Is the accused likely to interfere with any witnesses?
d) What is the strength of the crown’s/prosecution’s case?

 Poor performing judges can be dealt with at the Judicial Review Court level or a letter to the Chief Justice can start the process

Human Rights Advocacy for GLBT Community Report 2009

What Human Rights .............

What are Human Rights?

By definition human rights are our inalienable fundamental rights. Inalienable means that which cannot be taken away. So our human rights are bestowed upon us from the moment we are born and, thus we are all entitled to these rights. Because we are entitled to our human rights and they cannot and should not be taken away from us, we as a people must strive to protect them, government should protect them and breaches of our rights should be highlighted and addressed appropriately.

Human rights are the same for everyone irrespective of colour, class or creed, and are applicable at both the national and international level. In Jamaica, our human rights are enshrined in and protected by our Constitution. Internationally, there have been numerous laws and treaties enacted specifically for the protection of human rights.

Milestone document

Most notably of these is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This declaration is seen as a milestone document in the history of human rights. It was proclaimed by the United Nations, in 1948, as a common standard of achievements for all nations, and sets out the fundamental human rights to be universally recognised and protected.

The Declaration sets out the following rights:

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

No one shall be held in slavery or servitude.

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Equality before the law

Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law.

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Everyone has the right to freedom of movement

Everyone has the right to a nationality.

(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.

(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.

(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

(1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.

(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.

(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.

(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government;

Everyone has the right to education.

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.