In response to questions posed by the Pink Report concerning J-FLAG’s Advocacy Programme, The Executive Director of the entity has responded by saying “with respect, it’s the PINK REPORT” on JFLAG’s own Facebook Group page. We here at Pink are not sure of the meaning behind the statement, however, do note that it came after questions were raised about the credibility and thus veracity and accuracy of the Report’s Saturday publication entitled Under Attack Part II: Parliamentary Committee Briefs raise questions about JFLAG’s Advocacy by one of its (JFLAG’s) own volunteers/employees.
We here at the Pink Report would like to point out to our readers that the information provided in the above publication was taken from the official report of the Parliamentary Committee on the Charter of Rights and from JFLAG’s own website (which incidentally was emailed to us by the Executive Director). As a consequence if JFLAG is raising questions about the truthfulness and credibility of its own information and that of the Parliament of Jamaica, Pink in no way can be held responsible for that. Indeed the very accusation by JFLAG and its agents may take us down the dangerous path of second guessing every piece of information and literature coming out of JFLAG, a path that we are not remotely interested in contemplating. Rather we will take the statement as an unfortunate emotional reaction that even without the request of forgiveness, we shall like good Christians turn the other cheek forgive, forget and move on!
Notwithstanding we would like to submit to JFLAG that a Warmingtonian response to questions is not in the best interest of the organization or any Human Rights lobby group for that matter. The specific instance of which we speak pertains to a Facebook conversation regarding a JFLAG poll question “Do you agree with the question/statement: why discussions in its Group Page on Facebook have focused mainly on requesting information regarding Human Rights abuses but no articulation of what those Rights are or what JFLAG intends to do with the information if and when given!” Please note the text of the following conversation:
RY: DB (JFLAG representative), I actually thought that to myself… I just never expressed it. All I ever see is request for information.
DB: Scroll down on the wall RY…take a look at the discourse about the constitution and charter of rights…I myself made suggestion on how particular persons may apply for redress based on their violation/abuses. There are contacts for agencies who can assist. When you have that, then tell me that all you have seen is request for information.
The response from the JFLAG representative has the same material effect as Shut UP, and might we add GO TO HELL. Pink views this is as remarkably abusive and raises questions as to whether the entity genuinely cares for feedback from its own constituents. We publicly implore JFLAG to reign in and train its volunteers/employees on appropriate etiquettes as it regards treatment of clients. We also kindly request adressing the issues raised in the Saturday article in a forensic and professional manner. We still do hope for a response to the questions raised!
We had hoped that by raising these questions, JFLAG would have responded by highlighting the work they have been doing behind the scenes. Indeed the opportunity was theirs to point out that they have been coordinating responses with other Human Rights organizations due to the very present dangers of being the public face of homosexuality. They could have even indicated that that there has been an attempt to get a newsletter off the ground, the efforts of which the PINK Report was to be a part of but has failed to live up to its commitment in this regard and that activities are being planned to ensure that content is added to their website to ensure that community members are better informed about activities they undertake. It is to be noted that Pink regards the 2001 written submission as conforming to the highest standards of advocacy on the matter of Rights. What confuses us is, what could have possibly occurred such that the Committee could have been left with the impression that JFLAG was willing to barter inclusion of rights protections for minorities with repeal of buggery and related laws and what has been done since 2001 to educate members about inter alia the Charter and Rights in general. We ask not for mendacity or barbed attacks but a proper distillation of the entity’s work programme, JFLAG will note that it is not the questions that will embarrass us but the answers.
Looking to the Future
At the core of the debate is the Charter of Rights! The Bill is now at the floor of the Upper House, the Senate. Whilst the Leader of Opposition business in the Senate, Senator A.J. Nicholson has already indicated the total support of the PNP benchers he has called for a complete discussion on the Bill’s provisions among the Senators. This delay represents the last real opportunity that JFLAG and the wider Gay community has for initiating amendment to the Bill, which we are aware of. We humbly submit that the time has come for all members of the community to unite behind whatever initiative that JFLAG chooses to engage the Members of the Senate. We propose that a Great Email Campaign be done where persons directly email senators with content to be provided by JFLAG.
In another matter, we here at Pink do sympathize with the young lady from the UWI who was the victim of a cartoon attack. We, however, congratulate her on her fine electoral victory nonetheless. We hope that she will view this challenge not as a set back but as an opportunity to use her time in office to sensitize persons about respect and tolerance for persons of minority orientations including that of gender classifications. We note that the report indicated that the young lady in question was open and out prior to her election and as such her victory possibly marks the first time in Anglophone Caribbean History that an openly homosexual person has been elected to office. This is yet to be substantiated, however, it should be celebrated.