Jamaica’s first gay pride celebration

This video from England says about itself:

30 June 2013

YO! Blessup, One Love and Real Rasta greetin’s to you, fellow follower of de Lord of Lords, de King of Kings, de most High…Rastafari.

Have ya heard of de latest roots reggae and dancehall sensation to come out of our island home? Well a mi fi tell yu! Rastatroll Battyboy Soundsystem, all di while dem depon di bashment, Lord a Mercy. Dis crew a been buss dancefloors up in Kingston, all over Europe, and Kingston again, ya see me? Big man ting, ya dun know.

Yes, ‘ere me now, Rastatroll Battyboy Soundsystem are a REAL Jamaican soundsystem, proud of our fabulous heritage and our broad, glistening shoulders and thighs. Rastatroll are not ashamed to look a man in his eyes while he heaves his hard muscled body against ours, whisperin’ sweet words inna our ears. Rastatroll do not apologise for quivering like a flower in his arms, groaning and writhing as he pushes forcefully inside, pumping us over and over until de walls shake and de eyes roll back inna dem head. And Rastatroll do not hesitate to share a ganja spliff wit him as we relax pon de beach afterwards, holding each other, and listening to de cool sea breeze tell its stories of the love our forefathers shared, in much de same way we do now.

Star, dis is our way of life. Worn down by centuries of slavery and homophobic subjugation – but not defeated. Slandered by de bloated, imperialist, Western music industry – but not silenced. Attacked by de colonial sheep and demons who spread lies about Jamaica, but never once forgettin’ de dignity of our ancestors who first spread de Rainbow over Kingston.

In de immortal words of Gloria Gaynor, Prophet of Carr: “Jamaica’s a sham…till it can shout out, I am what I am”


Dis video is some bless footage from de Rastatroll stage at London Gay Pride. Nuff respect and REAL RASTA blessings fi all de battybwoys and punnanygyals who came out to hear de Lion‘s roar inna Trafalgar Square. We were truly blessed to walk amongst you.

De 29th June will go down in history as de day Rastatroll assumed its rightful title of as de most respected Reggae soundsystem on de European Gay scene – a day dat will resound through de ages.

Even Babylon were struck down in awe by our fabulousness, begging us to have their photos taken with us and asking for more rewinds.

If yu have any pictures or video, feel free to share dem pon dis page and inspire de next generation of Rastatroll soldiers.

SELASSIE I. Praise be to de Most High, JAH CARRSTAFARI.

Battyboys inna London, set it set it set it.

From Associated Press:

Jamaica to hold its first gay pride celebration in the island’s capital

Weeklong event that was previously almost unthinkable in a Caribbean country long described as the one of the globe’s most hostile places to homosexuality

Tuesday 4 August 2015 21.22 BST

Jamaica’s LGBT community is holding its first gay pride celebration in the island’s capital, a weeklong event that was previously almost unthinkable in a Caribbean country long described as the one of the globe’s most hostile places to homosexuality.

Events in Kingston have included a flash mob gathering in a park, an art exhibit and performances featuring songs and poems by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Jamaicans.

Jamaican gay rights activists said Tuesday the peaceful events are a clear sign that tolerance for LGBT people is expanding on the island even though stigma is common and longstanding laws criminalizing sex between men remain on the books.

“I think we will look back on this and see it as a turning point because many persons thought that it would never actually happen,” said Latoya Nugent of the Jamaica Forum of Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays, or J-FLAG, the rights group that organized the event.

For years, Jamaica’s gay community lived so far underground that their parties and church services were held in secret locations. Most stuck to a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy of keeping their sexual orientation hidden to avoid scrutiny or protect loved ones. A number of gay Jamaicans have won asylum overseas.

But while discrimination against gays remains pervasive in many parts of Jamaica and anti-gay violence flares up recurrently, Nugent said there’s an inaccurate perception overseas that homosexuals in Jamaica “can’t even walk on the streets because if you do you are going to be stoned or stabbed to death”.

“What we are seeing these days is more and more LGBT people willing to be visible, to be open, and to be public,” said Nugent, a co-chair of the planning committee for the events called PrideJa. “It’s remarkable.”

Still, some 80 incidents of discrimination, threats, physical attacks, displacement and sexual violence were reported to J-FLAG last year and the high-profile 2013 mob murder of transgender teen Dwayne Jones remains unsolved. There have been reports of targeted sexual assaults of lesbians. In a 2014 report, New York-based Human Rights Watch asserted that LGBT people in Jamaica remain the targets of unchecked violence and are frequently refused housing or employment.

“Yes, there’s still ridicule on the streets and some people look at you and laugh, but it’s not as violent as it was and we will insist on living our lives. There is a certain change going on,” 26-year-old Nas Chin told the Associated Press after dancing at a secure pride event.

Many Jamaicans consider homosexuality to be a perversion from abroad and a newspaper-commissioned poll has suggested there is overwhelming resistance to repealing anti-sodomy laws. In late August, a young Jamaican gay rights activist who brought an unprecedented legal challenge to the anti-sodomy law withdrew his claim after growing fearful about possible violent reprisals.

But Human Rights Watch has noted that there’s been a “groundswell of change” in the way Jamaica is responding to human rights abuses against LGBT people.

In recent days, Kingston’s mayor and the island’s justice minister have even publicly supported the weeklong pride activities, a major change in a nation where politicians once routinely railed against homosexuals and former prime minister Bruce Golding vowed in 2008 to never allow gays in his cabinet.

16-year-old Israeli girl murdered by ultra-religious homophobe

Shira Banki, 16-year-old Israeli girl before she was murdered by an ultra-religious homophobe

From daily Haaretz in Israel:

16 Year Old Stabbed in Jerusalem Pride Parade Succumbs to Wounds

Shira Banki was critically wounded in an attack by an ultra-Orthodox man on Thursday; Netanyahu: She died for bravely supporting everyone’s right to live in dignity.

Also from Haaretz: Why the Israeli government’s condemnation of Jerusalem Gay Pride attack is hollow

See also here.

Yaniv Kubovich Aug 02, 2015 6:16 PM

Three days after being critically wounded by an ultra-Orthodox man that went on a stabbing rampage at Jerusalem’s Gay Pride Parade, Shira Banki, a 16-year-old Israeli teen succumbed to her wounds Sunday afternoon. Five other people were wounded in the attack.

Police confirmed that the suspected stabber is Yishai Schlissel, a Haredi man from Modiin Ilit who stabbed three participants in the 2005 Gay Pride march. He was recently released from prison after serving a 10-year sentence.

Banki was a high-school student from Jerusalem, studying at the Hebrew University High School. She took part in Thursday’s parade to show solidarity with her LGBT friends. She is survived by her parents and three siblings; her family decided to donate her organs.

In a statement issued Sunday, her family said: “Our magical Shira was murdered because she was a happy 16-year-old – full of life and love – who came to express her support for her friends’ rights to live as they choose. For no good reason and because of evil, stupidity and negligence, the life of our beautiful flower was cut short. Bad things happen to good people, and a very bad thing happened to our amazing girl. The family expresses hope for a less hatred and more tolerance.” The family requests the public respect their privacy as they grieve.

As of Sunday afternoon two of those wounded in the attack alongside Banki were still in serious condition and remained hospitalized, though medical officials said their condition was improving. Three of the other people wounded in the attack were released home after suffering lighter injuries.

Opposition Chairman Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) also issued a statement, saying Banki was a victim of “Jewish terror”. “I cry for Shira… she is the age of my children. We will not tolerate violence, racism or LGBT-phobia of any kind,” he said, reiterating his demand that the prime minister outlaw extreme right-wing groups which he said “incite hatred” in Israel.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi) said in a statement: “It’s a dark day for Israel… in which a high school girl is murdered for her opinions and positions.” “There is no principle in the world worth the life of a young girl,” said Bennett, who was supposed to address an LGBT rally Saturday evening, but canceled after refusing to sign a commitment to act on behalf of the gay community. This is “a day in which we became darkness unto the nations instead of a being light unto the nations,” he added.

On Saturday, thousands of Israelis took to the streets to protest the stabbing as well as a deadly arson attack in the West Bank that saw a Palestinian infant killed.  “Flames have engulfed our country,” President Reuven Rivlin said at the rally in Jerusalem’s Zion Square. “Flames of violence, flames of hatred, flames of false, distorted and twisted beliefs.”

An estimated 10,000 people turned up for a rally in Tel Aviv’s Gan Meir, which was already planned to mark six years since two people were killed in a shooting at Barnoar, a Tel Aviv gay youth center. …

The attacker, Schlissel, was sentenced for 12 years in prison for the 2005 attack after his conviction on charges of attempted murder and aggravated assault. However, in 2007, following an appeal, the Supreme Court mitigated his sentence to 10 years. He was deemed sane and fit to face trial on Friday.

After his release, Schlissel returned to his hometown, where residents said that he distributed hand-written pamphlets in which he called on “all Jews faithful to God” to risk “beatings and imprisonment” for the sake of preventing the parade.

Right-wing MK: Jerusalem pride parade is an ‘abomination’. Habayit Hayehudi lawmaker Betzalel Smotrich calls anti-violence protest held in wake of stabbing a ‘witch hunt’ against those opposing LGBT rights: here.

Israel Police to probe failure to monitor Jerusalem gay pride parade assailant. Yishai Schlissel, who served 10 years for 2005 parade stabbing attack, urged self-sacrifice against ‘abomination parade’ following his recent release: here.

Gay people in Ramallah, West Bank: here.

Homophobic knife attack on Jerusalem Pride marchers

This video from Israel says about itself:

30 July 2015

Six people stabbed at Jerusalem gay pride march ‘by ultra-Orthodox Jew released from jail three weeks ago for identical attack in 2005′.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Participants at Gay Pride Jerusalem stabbed

Today, 18:38

At the Gay Pride march in Jerusalem six participants have been stabbed. Two of them are seriously injured, Israeli emergency services say.

On pictures one can see that the alleged offender, an ultra-orthodox Jew, is arrested. He is the man who ten years ago at the Gay Pride in the Israeli capital conducted a similar attack. Then, four people were injured. The man was convicted to twelve years in prison and was released three weeks ago.


“We heard people screaming, everyone tried to get themselves to safety. Bloodied people lying on the ground,” says a witness.

Despite the stabbing, the march continued. “Our struggle for equality will only get stronger because of this,” said the organization.

Ultra-Orthodox man stabs six people at gay pride march in Jerusalem. Yishai Schlissel had recently been released from prison after serving 10 years for stabbing three people at a gay pride parade in 2005, police said: here.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat acknowledged Thursday that “something went wrong” in the failure of police to monitor Schlissel, who while in prison had repeatedly used ultra-Orthodox social media to promote attacks on gays and describe his knifing spree as a “mission from God”. … “The writing was on the wall,” commented Israel’s Channel 2 reporter Moshe Nussbaum. “Everybody knew, except the police…about Schlissel’s intentions”: here.

Sandra Bland, after her death in Texas, USA

Sandra Bland

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Sandra Bland’s death in police custody puts spotlight on Texas jail standards

More than 4,200 people in Texas have died in custody in the past decade, and Waller County, where Bland died, has repeatedly been found non-compliant with state regulations that could have prevented her death

Tom Dart in Houston

Wednesday 29 July 2015 12.00 BST

If it makes no logical sense that a young and seemingly happy woman would kill herself days after being offered a new job, then the death of Sandra Bland is an anomaly on a statistical level as well.

The official, hotly disputed account is that the 28-year-old hanged herself in her cell on 13 July. If that is true she is the first African American woman to kill herself in a Texas county jail since the state’s standards agency started keeping death records.

Brandon Wood, executive director of the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, said that 140 inmates in Texas county jails have killed themselves since 2009, mostly white men. Suicide, usually by hanging, represents about one-third of the total deaths. Bland’s gender and race mark her out as unique.

Deaths in custody, though, are anything but rare. Officially, more than 4,200 people in Texas have died in custody in the past decade – a figure that includes those killed during attempted arrests or while restrained, as well as those who are incarcerated.

Half of them fell under the responsibility of the state prisons department, which typically holds inmates serving sentences of more than a year. Those in county jails are usually serving short sentences or are awaiting trial and have not yet been convicted, like Bland. At the end of 2013, according to federal statistics, Texas held 168,280 prisoners – more than any other state.

Across the country, 958 inmates died in local jails in 2012, according to an analysis last year by the Bureau of Justice Statistics – an increase of 8% from 2011. The average annual suicide rate for white inmates between 2000 and 2012 was at least three times higher than the rate for black or Hispanic prisoners.

In Houston alone there have been four deaths in the past eight days, one an apparent suicide of a man who had been screened for mental health issues about 12 hours earlier. “You have a constitutional right to be protected from harm in custody and that includes protection from harming yourself,” said Amin Alehashem, an attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project in Houston. The project plans to launch legal action against a Houston-area sheriff on Wednesday in a jail suicide case.

Alehashem said that as well as basic failings that vary from county to county, the length of pre-trial detention is a fundamental problem. The majority of inmates in Harris County’s jail, which encompasses Houston, are there because they cannot afford to make bond, he said.

Bland was seemingly unable to raise money for her bond immediately, meaning she was held over the weekend, alone in her cell. “Individuals that don’t have access to resources are confined and it has immediate consequences on mental health,” Alehashem said.

Bland was said to have asphyxiated herself using a plastic trash bag. Wood said that the use of trash bags is “not something that we are looking at prohibiting” because “she could just as easily have used her inmate clothing, her undergarments, her bedding, towels.”

But the Waller County jail, near Houston, has repeatedly been found non-compliant with state regulations in recent years, including after the 2012 suicide of a 29-year-old man.

An inspection in the wake of Bland’s death cited a failure to check on inmates in person at least once an hour and a lack of mental health training. The jail has 30 days to come up with a plan to rectify the problems. Wood’s agency has also spoken to officials about the failure to follow mental health assessment guidelines after she indicated on a screening questionnaire that she had previously attempted suicide and felt depressed.

That should have prompted jailers to contact a magistrate for a decision on whether to have her assessed by a mental health professional. But she was not even placed on suicide watch, which would have seen her checked more frequently and probably put in a cell covered by a camera.

Elton Mathis, the Waller County district attorney, released a toxicology report on Monday which indicated that Bland had marijuana in her system at the time of her death. Warren Diepraam, a county prosector, did not rule out the possibility that she had ingested the drug while in jail. Bland’s jail records and the dashcam video from the traffic stop that precipitated her arrest do not indicate that law enforcement officers suspected she was high on drugs at the time.

Michael McCabe, a toxicology expert with Robson Forensic in Philadelphia, reviewed the report for the Guardian and said that if the levels found in Bland’s blood had come from a living person they would indicate that she had smoked marijuana within a few hours of the sample collection. But, he said, given the faster rate at which the main chemical is released from body fat stores after death, it is not possible from the results to make a definitive conclusion that she was using marijuana or under the influence of marijuana at the time of her arrest or death.

Glenn Smith, the Waller County sheriff, said last week that he has asked a local attorney to form an independent panel to investigate his department’s procedures and performance. Mathis told reporters on Monday that he is forming a committee of outside attorneys to examine Bland’s case with a view to possible criminal charges that would be presented to a grand jury, probably next month.

Regardless of the autopsy results, for many in the local community and beyond, the jail’s errors, the mishandled traffic stop on the afternoon of 10 July that quickly escalated into confrontation and the context – a white trooper waiting in his car just outside the campus of a mainly black university who drives up behind Bland, prompting her to move across, then pulls her over for failing to signal a lane change – blame her death on institutional incompetence and bias.

“Waller County should be held accountable because she died in their care, custody and control,” said DeWayne Charleston, who became the county’s first black justice of the peace in 2003.

“Sandra Bland was entitled to proper medical care, entitled that everything about her care brought her safety and security,” he said, adding that he had previously spent time in the jail because of his activism. He speculated that anyone brought in on suspicion of assaulting an officer, like Bland, would not have received sympathetic treatment from staff.

He is not persuaded by Mathis’s announcement or his promises of a transparent and thorough investigation. “I don’t have any confidence in the fact that he has not made a commitment that he would bind himself to the recommendations,” he said. “I think he should just recuse himself. The trust is too far gone.”

Last week the sheriff’s office said in a statement: “All plastic trash liners have been removed from all cells in the Waller County Jail, pending further direction from the Texas Commission on Jail Standards. The two deficiencies noted by the Texas Commission on Jail Standards … are being corrected and all inmates are monitored hourly for face-to-face observation.”

The full dashboard video of Sandra Bland’s arrest is nearly fifty minutes long, and can be viewed on YouTube. It has the quality of nightmare, because it starts off so routinely and goes so badly. Sandra Bland was a twenty-eight-year-old African-American woman who was driving from Chicago to East Texas, to take a job at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M University. At home in Illinois, she was active in her church and close to her family. She had taken a keen interest in the Black Lives Matter movement and in the problem of police abuse of authority. At first, the conversation between Bland and Encinia is relatively civil; Bland expresses her unhappiness at being stopped. But she sounds calm, like a reasonable person educated about her rights, and in a hurry to be on her way: here.

‘My Baby Did Not Take Herself Out’: Friends, Family Share Stories of Sandra Bland: here.

From Equality Texas:

In Sandra Bland’s Death, Echos of LGBT History

July 29, 2015

On March 8th, 1970, New York Police raided the Snake Pit Bar, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, arresting all 167 patrons and staff present.

Diego Vinales, a 23-year old undocumented Argentinian immigrant was one of those arrested. Depending on which account you believe Vinales either, fearing deportation, jumped from a 2nd story window in an attempt to escape and was impaled on the wrought iron fence below, or was pushed out of the window by police officers.

In a flyer protesting the police violence against Vinales the Gay Activist Alliance said “Any way you look at it, Diego Vinales was pushed. We are all being pushed… Anyone who calls himself a human being, who has the guts to stand up to this horror, join us.”

OHIO COP INDICTED FOR MURDER AFTER TRAFFIC STOP “A University of Cincinnati police officer who shot a motorist during a traffic stop over a missing front license plate was indicted Wednesday on a murder charge, with a prosecutor saying the officer ‘purposely killed him’ and ‘should never have been a police officer.'” Take a look at the latest graphic from The Washington Post regarding the number of people shot dead by the police this year, as well as The New York Times‘ compilation of videos that are “putting race and policing in sharp relief.” [AP]

Can This Software Prevent Acts of Police Brutality? Here.

Homophobic mayor in Venice, Italy

This 2014 video is called Homophobia as seen by youth in Italy.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

New Mayor of Venice Luigi Brugnaro bans books about homosexuality from city schools

Certain books are being collected by authorities so they can “verify” they are suitable for young children

Doug Bolton

Thursday 09 July 2015

Venice‘s new mayor has been heavily criticised for his decision to ban books dealing with homosexuality from the city’s schools.

Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has banned a total of 49 books covering homosexuality and discrimination from schools, fulfilling one of his campaign promises.

Books banned include a French book titled ‘Jean Has Two Mums’, a story of a wolf family where the cub has two mothers.

Brugnaro has defended himself, saying he will “not be intimidated” by the criticism, which has taken the form of groups organising public readings of the banned books, and public libraries actively encouraging visitors to read them.

He added: “Parents need to educate their children on these things, not schools.”

According to a statement posted on Brugnaro’s website, authorities have collected all the books in question from across the city’s schools, and will “verify” them to make sure they are “suitable for preschoolers”.

Books that deal with religious, racial or disability-related discrimination have been collected by authorities for analysis, but the statement says they will “certainly be redistributed” at some point.

However, he said that books that deal with homosexuality may be kept out of school libraries for good.

The Mayor’s statement criticised the “cultural arrogance” of previous administrations, that have introduced the banned books into schools “without asking anything to anyone, especially to families.”

Any type of same-sex union, whether civil partnership or full marriage, is not recognised in Italy and unobtainable in the country.

For years there has been a push to make the government introduce civil unions, a cause that has received a boost recently following the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Ireland and the USA.

However, it has been met by a backlash from other groups, who see an introduction of same-sex unions as an affront to traditional Italian values.

The Italian Prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, supports the cause, and Italy’s senate is currently looking a a bill which Renzi hopes will allow same-sex partnerships by the end of July.

Little girl stops fundamentalist hate preacher

This video from the USA says about itself:

1st Grader Backs Down Homophobe Street Preacher

29 June 2015

Zea faces down a fire and brimstone street preacher, at a festival in Columbus, the day after the SCOTUS marriage equality ruling.

Comfest is a family-friendly, free, community music festival.

This was not a march, or a political event. The preacher was accosting festival goers, including other families with children. His rhetoric, before being confronted by a small girl, was graphic, and bigoted. He was escorted out by police a short time later. Zea was not there to protest. She volunteers at Comfest every year, and was on her way to spend her volunteer tokens on pizza.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with simple pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture

The incident has since been turned into a T-shirt

Adam Withnall

Wednesday 01 July 2015

A seven-year-old girl has inspired hundreds of thousands of people and been immportalised in a T-shirt after she confronted a hate preacher with a simple pro-LGBT gesture.

In an incident captured on camera by her father at a community festival in Ohio, Zea Bowling can be seen silently holding up a rainbow flag to a preacher yelling about “sodomy and brimstone”.

Ryan Bowling, Zea’s father, said he had told her about the US Supreme Court‘s majority decision to uphold same-sex marriage the day before.

And he said that when she heard the preacher, she “was shocked as to why he would bother to come to [the community festival] just to be so mean”.

In the video, people can be heared cheering on Zea as she confronts the preacher, and other onlookers approach to give her a high-five.

Mr Bowling said the preacher was “visibly deflated when he saw her coming”, and he can be seen turning away during the video.

The moment has been viewed more than 200,000 times since footage was uploaded by Mr Bowling, and he told Raw Story the crowd at the time had been “passionately on her side, right away, shockingly so”.

“People actually cried. I almost didn’t film it. It was pretty powerful, and I was trying not to be in my phone. Somebody I didn’t know sniffled pretty loudly, and I realized I might be missing something kind of important.”

Mr Bowling has since provided a link underneath the video to an Ohio clothing maker who has turned the viral moment into a T-shirt.

Designed by Zachary Traxler and adorned with the text of the 14th Amendment, proceeds will go towards Zea’s family and an LGBT charity.