The way forward from history
Over the last 5 years were some very important issues affecting Black and Asian LGBT people and issues that are important to them. I also made a lot of new contacts from all different unions and LGBT black and Asian people.
It has been very important as we had the highest amount of black and Asian people ever come to conference over the last 2 years. Over the years we have had many guest from BME people from different groups. These have included Imam, BME Terence Higgins Trust, chair and Commission for Racial Equality, Lord Wali – Asian Gay MP, the Venevelan group, the Iraq LGBT group, JFLAG and many other Asian and Black groups.
There have been motions on many different issues affecting BME LGBT people.
One motion looked at the amount of Asylum seekers who are LGBT being refused their applications for Asylum and being sent back to countries that are homophobic and put gay people in jail or murder or torture them.
The other motion was connected with JFLAG, which also deals with the way Gay Jamaicans are treated in their country by the police, hospitals and their own people.
There was a motion on Colombia and what is happening to LGBT people there. I supported this motion and this is what I said.
MOTION RE COLOMBIA
I have been doing a lot of work around matters re Colombia with PCS Proud. I went to a meeting last year and 2 with the top union leaders and the leading human rights lawyers fighting for human rights.
There are some things to point out from that meeting.
1. After talking about issues affecting union leaders and other people in Colombia nobody mentioned what was happening to the LGBT people an their plight, until I brought up the question.
2. Until recently there has been little support or help for LGBT people suffering under the regime.
3. There is little publicity or stories of LGBT people in Colombia. There are underground LGBT groups now fighting for the cause. We need to publicise the killings, personal stories of terror and name and shame the government.
Get TV programme makers out there, record their stories, write about the plight and make sure it reaches across the world. It is the support and lobbying for change from the rest of the world that will embarrass the government. as they fear bad publicity.
We need to make sure that people from Colombia get the support and their applications for asylum are not refused from these countries. We need to help our brothers and sisters in this country.
International Homophobia – Jamaican Violence
This motion was important as member of JFLAG was here at the conference to talk to the conference about this issue and he was the co-chair of the group.
This is a summary of what he said.
Homophobia is rife is Jamaica where LGBT people live in constant fear of their lives. JFLAG is not even recognised as an organisation by the government. JFLAG works with other organisations to help put in simple laws and give support to LGBT women and men. The Government has kept the laws that were put in place and repealed in this country back in the late sixties around Homosexuality. Jamaican Government has no plans to change the law now or in the future at this moment in time. He has had death threats in the street and by phone and by emails too. He has watched friends being beaten and even killed and when he reports it nobody in the police wants to know, as gay people are not important and are worth less than an animal. A couple of policemen were beating on a gay man and the crowd found out that the man was gay. They asked the police to give the man to them and they would finish him. The crowd chased him and beat him nearly to death. They had broken ribs, legs and other parts of his body too and he is blind in one eye as a result of this. At one time a group of 60 people came to his house and asked him to leave, as he shared his house with other males. Sometimes when he takes phone duty he does not want to answer the phone due to the death threats. What makes this worse is that the government do not want to believe that this sort of thing goes on but even politicians use anti- gay songs in their campaign empowering people to treat gay people in the way that they do.
People who denied protection and are sent back to Jamaica have lost ties with their family and most of the time the family does not want to know them. They have no home or place to stay or a job and then are left to fend for themselves leading them into crime. Others are sent back to die or to suffer. They are not wanted in their country and all they want is to be free and themselves – something gay people in the fifties and before had to fight.
He was asked what was the response from the black community and he said that he had been sent hate messages. A lot of Jamaican organisations had been very hostile as they felt that letting the outside world get involved was helping to paint a bad picture of Jamaica. They felt it was a European sickness that has affected the Black community. The Black community see that there is no real gay people in their community and those who are have been infected by white illness. How can you challenge people who will not admit to the existence of gay black men in their community?
This kind of attitude makes me sad as black people are just like other people in lots of ways and there are people who are open and accepting and those who are blinkered and sexist, racist and homophobic. When I hear comments made to black women who are with white men, aren’t black men good enough for them and other hateful things I feel ashamed of these men shouting the comments. This attitude can also come from women. Love is not about colour; it is about feelings towards another person.
In the same way the black community were against the movie the colour purple because of the way it portrayed black people they are doing a similar thing with the gay issue and other issues too. “The colour purple” was about us, about love, about abuse, about hope and also about women who love women. It was honest and showed the black community at that time and was written by a black woman. It took a long while for the Black community to accept that film and that makes me sad. What does this say about the black community to come forward with these adverse and negative and extremist views? How different is that attitude to the people who have persecuted black people and their fights in history and still are now.
I am only part West Indian but I have not grown up in the black community and what I hear makes feel that it is best that I did not. The most important thing to mention is that not all the black community are Anti-gay and they’re a lot of black women and some men who are supportive of gay people. There are a lot of issues regarding male sexuality within the black community. Gayness is therefore a real challenge to this and is treated with hostility from a portion of the community.