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OAS commission holds hearing on Jamaica sodomy law challenge

Gay men have challenged country’s colonial-era statute

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A Jamaican and Pride flag fly on the beach in Montego Bay, Jamaica, on Oct. 15, 2018, during the city’s Pride celebration. Jamaica is among the countries in which consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized. (Photo courtesy of Maurice Tomlinson’s Facebook page)

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on Nov. 11 held a hearing that focused on challenges to Jamaica’s sodomy law.

Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network Senior Policy Analyst Maurice Tomlinson, AIDS-Free World Legal and Research Advisor Sarah Bosha and Samir Varma of the Thompson Hine LLP law firm spoke on behalf of two gay Jamaicans who are challenging the country’s colonial-era statute that criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual relations.

A press release about the hearing notes the petitioners in the case, which was filed with the commission in 2011, remain anonymous because of “concern for their safety.” Representatives of the Jamaican government did not attend the hearing.

“The root cause of our ongoing abuse and neglect by the Jamaican state as this commission has repeatedly highlighted is the presence of (an) anti-sodomy law that makes the petitioners, me and all other LGBT Jamaicans, at least in the minds of the Jamaican government and the majority of Jamaicans, unapprehended criminals with few, if any, human rights,” said Tomlinson during the hearing.

Jamaica is among the dozens of countries around the world in which consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized.

Javed Jaghai in 2013 challenged Jamaica’s sodomy law in the country’s Supreme Court, but he later withdrew his lawsuit after he and members of his family received death threats. Tomlinson, a gay Jamaican man who represented Jaghai, in 2015 filed his own lawsuit against the statute.

Tomlinson told the commission the Jamaican government earlier this month once again asked for another delay in his case.

“Justice delayed is justice denied,” he said. “This commission must act to give LGBT Jamaicans justice, and I pray that you will not fail us.”

The hearing took place against the backdrop of other challenges to sodomy laws in English-speaking Caribbean countries.

Gay men in Dominica and St. Vincent and the Grenadines in July filed lawsuits against their respective countries’ sodomy laws.

Alexa Hoffman, a transgender activist in Barbados, along with a gay man and a lesbian woman in 2018 brought a challenge to their country’s sodomy law to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality, a regional LGBTQ advocacy group, on Nov. 1 said it plans to challenge sodomy laws in Barbados and four other Caribbean countries — St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada and St. Lucia — by the end of the year.

The government of Trinidad and Tobago has appealed a 2018 ruling that declared the country’s sodomy law unconstitutional. An appeal of the Belize Supreme Court’s 2016 decision that struck down the Central American nation’s sodomy law is pending.

The Organization of American States, which is based in D.C., created the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 1959 as a way to promote human rights throughout the Western Hemisphere. The commission works closely with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to enforce the American Convention on Human Rights.

The court in 2018 issued a landmark ruling that recognizes same-sex marriage and trans rights. Jamaica is among the OAS member states that have ratified the American Convention on Human Rights.

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A March for the Women of Afghanistan

In Los Angeles and West Hollywood, Afghan youth and activists will meet on the Sunset Strip and march to West Hollywood Park

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WEST HOLLYWOOD – Individuals and groups from over 85 countries have come together #RiseForAndWithWomenOfAfghanistan.

THIS Saturday, 25 September, we will take to the streets in a global day of action. Worldwide events are being led by local Afghan activists and informed by activists on the ground in Afghanistan.

In Los Angeles and West Hollywood, Afghan youth and activists will meet on the Sunset Strip and march to West Hollywood Park (onebillionrising.org/riseLA)

In New York City, a rally and action with Afghan activists, women’s rights leaders, Broadway stars and more will take place at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, in sight and sound of the United Nations as the UN General Assembly meets. (onebillionrising.org/risenewyork)

In cities and towns across the globe, activists, women’s organizations, human rights groups, and high profile individuals are leading events, actions, risings (onebillionrising.org/events)

We cannot underestimate the power of our solidarity. Bearing witness to the violence and fear the Taliban is unleashing on Afghanistan will send a powerful message to the Afghan people – and women specifically – that they are not alone. Just as importantly, it will remind the Taliban that we see what they are doing and will not back down until all Afghan people live with the full human rights they deserve.

JOIN US. SPREAD THE WORD. For info and our demands/statement, visit: onebillionrising.org/afghanistan

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Community Services - PSA

Indoor large events required to verify vax or negative test for entry

COVID-19 test must be within 72 hours prior to event. Results can be printed, on a phone- with email/text msg results from test provider/lab

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Photo Credit: City of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – As of September 20, the State requires that all attendees at indoor mega events show proof of full vaccination or a negative test result prior to entry. Self-attestation can no longer be used to verify an attendee’s status as fully vaccinated or as proof of a negative COVID-19 test result.  

Indoor mega events are events with 1,000 or more attendees indoors and include, conventions, conferences, expos, concerts, shows, nightclubs, sporting events, live entertainment, and festivals.

Acceptable proof of vaccination status includes a photo identification with any one of the following:

  • CDC COVID-19 vaccination record card (white card)
  • World Health Organization (WHO) vaccine record card (yellow card)
  • California Department of Public Health (CDPH) COVID-19 digital vaccination record
  • Other COVID-19 digital vaccination record issued by an approved company
  • Documentation of vaccination from the healthcare provider or entity that provided the COVID-19 vaccines
  • California Immunization Registry (CAIR2) vaccination record

The vaccination proof should include the person’s name, type of COVID-19 vaccine, and the date of the doses administered. The person can show the vaccination card, a photo of the card as a separate document, or a photo of the card stored on a phone or electronic device.

Acceptable proof of a negative test includes a photo identification with testing results that must include the person’s name, type of COVID-19 viral test performed, and negative test result.  The date when the COVID-19 test was taken must be within the 72 hours prior to the event. The test results can be a printed copy or on a phone, including an email or text message results from the test provider or laboratory.

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“Empower Los Angeles,” Trans job fair Wednesday, September 22

“Empower LA!” is the first in a series of career fairs to empower Trans & non-binary people recruitment efforts by participating companies

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Photo Credit: County of Los Angeles

LOS ANGELES – The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation and TransCanWork, an organization committed to advancing transgender, gender diverse & intersex workplace inclusion, announced the launch of “Empower Los Angeles!” a virtual career fair for transgender and non-binary job seekers on Wednesday, September 22 from 11am to 3pm PST.

“It is already widely known that the transgender and non-binary communities face heightened levels of discrimination across all facets of society—while national unemployment rates have skyrocketed over the past 18 months, these folks now face compounded, threatening circumstances that contribute to further marginalization, economic oppression, and financial insecurity,” said RaShawn Hawkins, Human Rights Campaign Workplace Equality Deputy Director. “Creating safe spaces for transgender and non-binary job seekers is critical to ensuring that they may begin a career with affirming, inclusive employers.”

“Empower Los Angeles!” is the first in a series of career fairs that aim to economically empower the transgender and non-binary community through intentional recruitment efforts made by participating companies who are also working to support transgender and non-binary inclusive workforce development efforts. Each virtual event can host up to 60 employers, as well as 1,000 job seekers, per city via virtual exhibitor booths that are fully customizable and include various features such as video and chat functionality through the platform Brazen.

“I’ve heard and witnessed countless stories of friends and community members losing jobs, facing financial insecurity, and racking up debt just in order to survive, and that was long before the start of a pandemic,” said Lexi Adsit, TransCanWork Executive Director. “This virtual career fair is just one of many ways we are helping to create a true culture shift—TransCanWork isn’t just in the business of bringing together employers and potential employees, we’re in the business of culture change to ensure long-term success and stability for the transgender, gender diverse and intersex community and our corporate partners.”

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, HRC Foundation’s Workplace Equality Program and TransCanWork quickly pivoted programming by providing additional employment support through an educational web series, “Who’s Hiring?” that highlights LGBTQ+ affirming companies and open positions of employment. Now that the professional landscape has been permanently transformed, both organizations are dedicated to leveraging a strategic partnership to further impact employment mobility for transgender and non-binary people around the country. During the Los Angeles fair, Bank of America will be the Presenting Sponsor and Amgen will be the Platinum Sponsor. To register as a job seeker click here.

Data released by HRC and PSB Research outlines the economic impact of COVID-19 on the LGBTQ+ community, showing that the community is more likely to have faced financial and professional hardships.

  • 30% of LGBTQ+ respondents had their work hours reduced, compared to 22% of the general population
  • 27% of transgender or non-binary Americans who held or applied for a job reported being fired, denied a promotion or not hired for a job they applied for because they were trans or non-binary.
  • 16% of transgender or non-binary people said they lost a job because they were trans or non-binary.
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