Monday, 14 September 2009

The Homophobic Murder of the British Consul And The Home Office: Matters Arising!

Last week Wednesday the British Honourary Ambassador to Jamaica was brutally and callously murdered in his house in an apparent homophobic attack.

John Terry died of asphyxiation after being beaten and strangled. A post mortem is expected to reveal that he died from strangulation by ligature, says the Jamaican Constabulary Force. According to the Force there was a cord and an item of clothing found around his neck when his body was found.

A hand-written note beside his dead body described him as a “batty man”, which is a local slang for a homosexual. The note also added: “This is what will happen to all gays.”

This development is coming barely a month after a very close friend, despite his plea to the Home Office to grant him asylum based on his sexual orientation was deported to Jamaica after being told to go home, change his homosexual way, pretend he is not gay and move to another part of the country. According to the Home Office, if he abides by these directives nothing will happen to him.

John Terry’s murder is a cowardly act, a mark of ignorance and completely unacceptable even as the deportation of my dearest Jamaican friend by the Home Office despite his plea is very stupid, idiotic and a sign of the fact that the British Home Office is filled with ignorant ignoramuses who derive joy from playing with the life of the people and making stupid and ignorant decisions. All these points to the fact that the Home Office as it is now, is not fit for a purpose and therefore needs a complete overhaul.

Various reports from various human rights group are of the same opinion and conclusion that Jamaica is a homophobic haven where even homophobic crimes are feted instead of being punished by the state. In fact according to these reports there is a covert endorsement of homophobic crimes by the State of Jamaica. This could explain why most of these homophobic attacks are not investigated and punished.

For Jamaican homosexuals it has been a story of one hell after another; more of one week one trouble. Many of them have experienced attacks on themselves and their property for no reason but just for being homosexuals. A lot of them have also been killed including homosexual rights activists. The homophobic culture in Jamaica is deeply rooted in the country’s psyche that every aspect of life in the Caribbean Island reflects that.

Buju Banton, a local reggae star is a homophobic champion of the Island whose many songs glorified homophobic attacks on individuals suspected of being gays, lesbians or bisexuals. Recently he was charged with grievous bodily harm for brutally attacking a gay man and leaving him for dead. He attacked the gay man with blows and board which left him half blind. Buju Banton is such an avowed homophobe that one of his songs, ‘Boom Bye-Bye’ decrees that gays "haffi dead" (have to die).

The Jamaican authorities refused to charge Buju Banton for the attack but after series of complaints from international human rights groups, he was finally charged but couple of months later the case was quashed for lack of evidence. It was a bitter decision and a victory for homophobes like Buju Banton. Also in the past couple of years, two of the island's most prominent gay activists Brian Williamson and Steve Harvey, have been murdered and a crowd even celebrated over Williamson's mutilated body. This did not happen in Iran or Saudi Arabia but in Jamaica in the Caribbean. Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that many anti-gay assaults have been acts of mob violence.

For instance recently, a teenager was almost killed when his father learned he was gay and invited a group to lynch the boy at his school. Reports also had it that the Jamaican Police aid and abet mob that are involved in this type of homophobic attacks and witnesses actually confirmed that the Police were a witness where a gay man was stabbed and stoned to death in Montego Bay. Similar report had it also that just recently a man from Kingston, Nokia Cowan, drowned after a crowd shouting ‘batty boy’ chased him off a pier.

This led to an outburst by Rebecca Schleifer of the US-based Human Rights Watch and author of a scathing report on the island's anti-gay hostility that “Jamaica is the worst any of us has ever seen."

Jamaica may be the worst offender, but much of the rest of the Caribbean also has a long history of deep-seated homophobia and homophobic attacks. In Barbados homosexuality is still a criminal offence and actually follows the Jamaican more violent example. Recently two CBS News producers, both Americans, were beaten with tire irons by a gay-bashing mob while on vacation there. One of the victims, Ryan Smith, was airlifted to a Miami hospital, where he received an intensive care as a result of a fractured skull.

Experts are of the opinion that the scourge of homophobia in Jamaica is largely due to the country's increasingly thuggish reggae music scene spiced with high level of illiteracy and gangsterism. Buju Banton, as noted at the outset, is an epitome of this culture. One of his first hits released in 1992 and titled, ‘Boom Bye-Bye’, boasts of shooting gays with Uzis and burning their skin with acid "like an old tire wheel." Another artist, Elephant Man declares in one song, "When you hear a lesbian getting raped/ it’s not our fault...Two women in bed/ that’s two Sodomites who should be dead." As if there is no end to this, yet another artist called Bounty Killer urged his fans and listeners to burn "Mister Fagoty" and make him "wince in agony."

The most agonising part of the whole brutality and homophobic culture is the fact that all these attacks are endorsed by the state and even have the full backing of the parties in power. For instance, the Jamaica's major political parties have passed some of the world's toughest homophobic laws and regularly incorporate homophobic music in their campaigns.

It is based on this argument that it would be virtually impossible to have the killer or killers of John Terry brought to justice. To an average Jamaican and to the government that endorses homophobic attack, the killer has done a heroic job and should be rewarded; after all he killed a ‘batty man’. Jamaica has not been known to prosecute homophobic attacks and the brutal killing of John Terry would not make any difference or set a precedent. Bearing this in mind then, it becomes imperative that the Jamaican Government should be held responsible for the killing of John Terry. The British Government should by way of sanction and boycott let the Jamaican government be aware that we have come a long way out of the stone and dark ages where people kill each other as flies. Whoever killed John Terry is a Jamaican and every citizen of a nation is responsible for the actions committed in the name of that nation.

Even the British Home Office that tactically endorses this type of shame may not succeed in pressurizing the Jamaican government to take action against the killer of John Terry. The Home Office is certainly very weak here for despite knowing what happens in Jamaica, it has been in recent years deporting many Jamaican homosexuals seeking asylum here back to Jamaica. The Home Office is very well aware of the fate waiting for these men and women back home but the need to increase the quota of those to be removed yearly is more important to the Home Office than the fate of these young men and women.

As noted earlier, they are usually deported with the proviso to go home and pretend they are not homosexuals by behaving like straight guys and moving to another part of the country. This is very disturbing bearing in mind that being a homosexual is not about a life style. It is more than that. Being a homosexual is about belonging to a particular group; the minority and even holding an opinion that results in persecution.

Therefore telling them to tell lie about their sexuality is a matter that should be investigated by the Parliament. To tell lie to get an asylum in the United Kingdom is a criminal offence, what then should be the punishment for the Home Office unscrupulous staff that encourage these men and women to lie about their sexuality? To be gay is a taboo in most of the cultures and countries where these young men and women are running away from and for the Home Office to tell them to tell lies about their sexuality by pretending they are straight and move to another part of the country, could be very insulting and a clear sign of ignorance and violation of their human rights. That is akin to asking a Jew during the Jewish holocaust to deny he is a Jew. This is a serious violation of their rights by the Home Office and the Parliament should not pretend it is not aware of what is happening in the Home Office. An urgent investigation is therefore imperative to ascertain why the Home Office is telling a vulnerable minority to deny their identity.

These people being sent home have a well founded fear of being detained, falsely imprisoned and persecuted for being homosexuals, belonging to homosexual groups and associating with other homosexuals and having an opinion that supports their way of life. It is therefore a gross violation of their rights for the Home Office to send them home in the first place and being aware and deporting them to a country where there is a likelihood of their being persecuted and their human rights violated is a gross violation of human right laws.

For example, the Article 3 of the European Charter of Human Rights is strongly against deportation of individuals to places where they could be tortured, punished, persecuted or subjected to any form of inhuman or degrading treatment. Jamaica is one of those places for homosexuals yet the Home Office is still deporting them. Under this Article 3, a person can make a claim for protection on the ground that his human rights and person could be subjected to a serious violation in form of torture, persecution, punishment or degrading inhuman treatment and the Home Office is bound to respect this provision. However in recent years, the Home Office has been seriously violating this provision by deporting those who claim them for protection in order to meet the Labour quota system.

Under the Labour Quota System, a certain number of failed asylum seekers must be removed from the United Kingdom each year. In order to beat this target, what the Home Office needs to do is just make sure that the quota is reached each year by all means. The implication is that in the process, genuine asylum seekers who have well founded fear of persecution are denied asylum and deported even to the countries where it is obvious they will be persecuted and murdered. Many Iraqi, Iranian, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Nigerian and Jamaican homosexuals have been deported this way.

This Home Office Labour endorsed action is also a serious violation of the Non-Refoulement Principle which is the central obligation of 1951 Refugee Convention requiring a state not to expel or return a refugee in any manner whatsoever to the frontiers of territories where her life or freedom would be threatened. The Home Office is well aware of these facts. It is therefore morally irresponsible for the Home Office to continue tying the fate of these individuals to the Labour quota system. This is morally unfair, completely unacceptable and a wanton disregard for the value and sacredness of human life and a clear violation of international instruments guarding the interest of refugees and asylum seekers.

It is because of this wanton violation of their rights that the UK homosexual rights activist, Peter Tatchell decried that, “Britain’s asylum system is homophobic. The Home Office is refusing asylum to genuine lesbian and gay refugees and sending them back to countries where they are at risk of arrest, imprisonment, torture and even execution. The government seems more interested in cutting asylum numbers than in ensuring a fair, just and compassionate asylum system. It is failing gay refugees who have fled savage persecution, including death squads, vigilante attacks and attempted so-called honour killings.”

The Home Office should have known by now more than everybody that human life is not all about quota. It is sacred and should be respected by all means especially when it is seriously endangered. This is not time for quota. It is time for being there for those who have nobody to speak for them. We should not talk of quota or be silent when people are suffering. I am conscious of the fact that the quota system is the worst mistake to have been done in the history of British Home Office.

This quota system would only go a long way to empower the homophobes and never the victims. The quota system would encourage the tormentor and never the tormented. We should therefore play a part in fighting this Labour controversial quota system no matter whose Ox is gored because it borders on human life, human right and human dignity. We are under an obligation to oppose and speak out against it. When human lives are endangered and human dignity is in jeopardy, national borders, quota system, immigration laws and sovereignty should come last. Wherever people are being persecuted, imprisoned, humiliated or become a subject of opprobrium as a result of their sexual orientation, that place should be the focus of attention and centre of the entire world until that cynical and barbaric behaviour is brought to an end.

The Home Office should therefore be held responsible for the fate of these young men and women and for whatever happens to them both in Jamaica and other countries where they are being deported back to and likely to face the agony of being persecuted, tortured, imprisoned and murdered. John Terry would not have died in such a brutal and callous manner, if the Home Office had taken the Jamaican picture very serious and make every diplomatic effort including the use of boycott and sanction to bring Jamaica, her former colony, to obey the rights and life of these vulnerable minorities.

And for the killers of John Terry, every effort should be made to bring them to justice. Somebody must have heard something or witnessed something. They should take it as a moral duty to inform the police as soon as possible. Human beings are so interconnected that we cannot shy away from what happen to others because it might be our turn tomorrow for according to Karl Jaspers, “there exists among men, because they are men, a solidarity through which each shares responsibility for every injustice and every wrong committed in the world and especially for crimes that-are committed in his presence or of which he cannot be ignorant. If I do not do whatever I can to prevent them, I am an accomplice in them. If I have not risked my life in order to prevent the murder of other men, if I have stood silent, I feel guilty in a sense that cannot in any adequate fashion be understood juridically, or politically, or morally....That I am still alive after such things have been done weighs on me as a guilt that cannot be expiated”.

Relatedly, we are also not unaware of the fact that some of these attacks are religiously motivated in the sense that those who carry out these brutal behaviours are often victims of brainwash of their different religions. Most of these religions especially Islam and Christianity teaches their members that homosexuality is an abomination and sin before God and for the unsuspecting followers it becomes a licence for them to carry out homophobic attacks wantonly, after all the man of God says it is a sin and an abomination before God. Also because these religions erroneously teaches their members that God destroyed the biblical cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because of homosexuality, the gullible members would not have any problem carrying out homophobic attacks since if God could destroy those cities, killing those who are homosexuals in the name of same God may not be bad after all.

At this juncture, it becomes pertinent to point out clearly that killing in the name of God or religion can never be justified. We are all children of God, fearfully and wonderfully made in his image. We are all equal before Him and nobody is valued more than the other in His presence. We cannot continue to tolerate the fact that people are still being imprisoned, tortured, ostracised and murdered in 2009 as a result of their sexuality. No! That is completely unacceptable, undemocratic, evil and not in alignment with human nature. And the fact that all these are being done in the name of God and religious conviction makes a mockery of belief in God.

God we are told is almighty and supreme and if He is, He has got all the power too to kill all the homosexuals, if He does not want them. He made man and knows how many hairs each of them has got on their head. It is His prerogative to take the life of any man he so wishes and for man to step in to do this work for Him is tantamount to making a mockery and laughing stock of His almighty quality. It is because of this that I strongly condemn in all forms any act of aggression against people in the name of God because of their religion, creed, belief, language, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation.

Racism, bigotry, hatred and similar vices are what we should run away from. They are like a poison to the soul. Any religion, culture, group or government that advocates hatred for other people because of their religion, creed, race, colour and sexuality should be sanctioned, boycotted and be held responsible for any violation of human rights because it is purely against the belief in God, democracy, universal brotherhood of man and the fatherhood of God. Nobody can claim to be a believer in God and in the name of same God kill his brothers. Any religion, culture, group or government that preaches hatred in any form is not worthy to be and should be fought by all. The world is too big to accommodate all of us and we are too big for all these rubbishes.

2 comments:

  1. Thank you for this beautiful posting my brother!

    ReplyDelete