Talking about Canada-exported homophobia in Jamaica with colleague Maurice Tomlinson!

This is a public conversation.

US LGBT Ambassador hits the right note in Jamaica! smile emoticon Acknowledge, Respect, Engage! heart emoticon

“Our own history has not been a perfect history on point. The United States is not yet where it should be on this and other issues. We’ve made a lot of progress, but we’re not here to point fingers, that would be a hypocritical thing for us,” Larson said.”

RANDY Berry and Todd Larson wanted Jamaicans to have a clear understanding of the reason for their visit to the island last week. So, in an interview with the Jamaica Observer lasting just under 30 minutes, the US Government officials stated m …
  • Someone was listening to you! This is almost word for word A.R.E.!!

    All your work in the spotlight is paying off:)

    “… where US policy is, understanding

    that we have also come into this space after a long struggle

    and to see how we can be a positive partner.”

  • Maurice Tomlinson Thanks, Freddie! I am STILL hoping that the issue of EXPORTED homophobia will be acknowledged, and I said as much to someone from the US govt. today. It is absolutely crucial to disrupt the narrative that somehow people from the global south are inherently and intrinsically homophobic. We are not. We had to be TAUGHT to hate.
    • Freddie ArpsExported homophobia needs to be addressed: the past and present campaigns that Christianists are waging.

      Do we actually know anything about the start of homophobia or misogyny?

      Does it just come from fear of the “other” and did all societies know some form of it?

      I always thought Wicca/paganism/Druidism had none of it, but I don’t know for sure…

  • Stephen Tattle I have to admit that I struggle with the “exported homophobia” concept as being THE reason. It seems a little too simple an explanation. Do people not have the choice whether or not they buy into what they hear? Where is individual responsibility?
    • Freddie Arps That’s how mass hysteria works though… Large groups and repetition, repetition, repetition.

      Individual emotions and reactions disappear and with them individual responsibility…

      It’s psych 101 unfortunately.

      We could have prosecuted every individual in Germany after world war 2. We stuck with leaders and exceptionally murderous doctors and camp guards.

      We opted to see choice as murky water and to understand that people as a group act differently than they would have on their own.

      That is why it is so important to react with Maurice Tomlinson‘s “acknowledge, respect and engage”

      We in “the group of” Canada, Europe used to dismiss LGBTI persons as unacceptable.

      Now we need to engage people in other countries by giving them information and ideas about how to accept LGBTI persons in their lives and in their communities. And connect those to their own culture that has plenty of space for acceptance. Probably start with this last part.

    • Freddie Arps
  • Stephen Tattle I keep saying to myself – some day when Maurice and I are both in the office, I really need to grab him for a quick lunch to discuss this and to figure out what I am apparently not seeing.
  • Maurice TomlinsonStephen, research conducted by the University of the West Indies in 2011 and 2012 highlighted the correlation between religious fundamentalism and murder music (which itself relies on religious fundamentalism for most of its lyrics). So, while Jamaicans certainly have the agency to hate, they had to be taught whom to hate. And this (mis)education is the function of imported evangelical religious practice and a centuries old British colonially-imposed anti-gay law. Regrettably, in Jamaica as elsewhere, many people are simply too lazy to interrogate the root of their deeply held homophobia. It is easier to simply accept that gays are an “abomination” because the pastor says so.
    Stephen Tattle Maurice Tomlinson There are about 150 things/questions I would like to say/ask in response, but it is not possible in a forum such as this. I am not a “tech” guy and am new to social media and I cannot express opinions in few enough words which a forum such as this requires. I am still a old-school talker who needs 2-way exchange of ideas to form opinions and understand things, which our electronic age makes more and more challenging! I would still love an opportunity to discuss this issue and hope that might some day be possible.

Tory bill threatens health, human rights of sex workers! Kill Bill C-36

This month’s Justice Committee hearings on Bill C-36 were an absolute circus. And not the happy, I-want-to-run-away-with kind. We’ve packed up the wagons and put away the big tent, but there’s still an elephant in the room: many Canadians are rightly concerned that the health and human rights of the women, men and trans people in the sex trade are not being seriously considered by some of our elected officials.

And what better time to discuss sex workers’ health and human rights than the very week lawmakers, front-line workers, medical professionals and activists are all gathering for the 20th International AIDS Conference. There, it is readily acknowledged that criminal laws, including those prohibiting the purchase of sex, place sex workers at risk of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.

Sex workers already walk a tightrope. They often have to navigate the disgust of neighbours and family, the patronization of feminist saviours and the harassment of law enforcement, hoping to clear the streets of all that we as a society would rather not see. They do all this while trying to make a living.


What is getting lost in the parliamentary process is the fact that sex workers are entitled to human rights, including the right to health. In Canada v. Bedford, the Supreme Court of Canada told our government, in no uncertain terms, that the health, safety and human rights of sex workers must be respected. By countering with Bill C-36, our government is announcing that it just doesn’t care. And when committee hearings stem from a place that fundamentally disrespects sex workers and counts their human rights as expendable, a meaningless spectacle is the inevitable outcome. Health as a human right barely made it into the tent.

How will Bill C-36 affect the health of sex workers in Canada? First, there is a growing global agreement that criminalizing sex work violates sex workers’ human rights, and that criminalizing the men and women who pay for sex is also poor public health practice.

When buying sex is illegal, sex workers need to rush to negotiate terms of safer sex and have no time to identify clients, let alone screen them. Their regular clients shy away, leaving them with fewer options to refuse clients who may pose a risk of physical harm. With the loss of regular clients, sex workers will face pressure to see more clients, leaving less time for safety precautions. Sex workers may also be reluctant to carry condoms if doing so could lead to police harassment or a client’s arrest.


Sex workers who work on the street must continue to meet in back alleys and remote locations where they have no backup and where it will be harder to insist on safer sex. If sex workers get caught in the criminal net under a ban on communicating near children, they could also be prohibited from areas where there are food banks, shelters and health clinics that offer harm reduction supplies and HIV testing, among other services. And since the laws effectively prevent sex workers from working indoors, those individuals will have a much harder time creating a familiar environment where they can take the necessary precautions to protect their health.

None of this bodes well for sex workers’ health and human rights, or for HIV prevention.


During the Justice Committee hearings, some supporters of Bill C-36 equated all sex work with paid rape. Sex workers were cruelly heckled from the gallery and some committee members discredited their experiences, selectively listening only to those who contend that prostitution is inherently violent. The fact that all sex workers who testified said Bill C-36 would make their work dangerous may have been recorded on tape — but it was not heard.

The truth is that Bill C-36, even with a few post-committee amendments, will deprive sex workers of their right to health. The Bedford decision, which addressed this elephant in the room head-on, will be all but erased.

The circus has come and gone, and Canada will be left to test its newest constitutionally flawed law on the backs of sex workers.


Our thoughts are with all those who lost their lives on Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, including those researchers, medical professionals, activists and allies en route to AIDS 2014 in Melbourne.

Freddie Arps is a legal researcher with the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network.

listen to sex workers kill bill c-36

The morning after. Feeling good? What HIV/AIDS means- for YOU.

The morning after. Feeling good?

HIV/AIDS means to be responsible- for yourself.

Do you really expect anyone to tell you they are infected, when disclosure for them could mean:

– being killed
– being beaten up
– being shamed, spat on, pushed around, yelled at, seeing faces of disgust and fear
– losing their 11 dollar an hour job when they are not educated enough to get any other and they were so g-ddam happy they found this one
– losing their very much loved mother, their loving father, their giggly sisters, their sweet brothers, their cool cousins, their aunts, their uncles
– when it would mean being shunned by their (immigrant or not) community and not accepted anywhere else as Canadian
– being deserted by friends when you thought they would stick with you through thick and thin
– being treated like a leper with others shying away from your body
– when it could mean police hauling you off to jail
– being in jail until you get acquitted or sentenced three years later. With little access to the medicines that others can get so easily.

Can you ask that of a fellow human being?

when they are poor, black, first nations, trans, sex worker or anyone else who has little power or privilege.

So what can YOU do for yourself?
1. Use condoms, even with sex toys.
2. Get tested every 4 months.
3. When you have open wounds or abrasions, be even more careful.
4. Do volunteer work for an HIV/AIDS organization: help spread the word about prevention.Advocate for clean needle programs, for decriminalization of sex work.

5. Cook dinner for someone who is HIV positive. Fresh food is what their body needs. You might have to do this through volunteer work first. It’s not as if people will be automatically open to you about their status. Don’t think of it as charity, but as regular socializing.
6. Read up on the myths around HIV/AIDS.
7. Use clean needles. Throw your needles away in the container if there is one. (This involves the privilege of being in a neighbourhood where there are those boxes and/or where there are places to safely inject.)