The Jamaica Outpost
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/IR00000292/00005
 Material Information
Title: The Jamaica Outpost
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: unknown
Publisher: GL Publishing
Place of Publication: Kingston, Jamaica
Creation Date: March 2005
Genre: serial   ( sobekcm )
 Record Information
Source Institution: International Resource Network
Holding Location: International Resource Network
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
System ID: IR00000292:00005

Full Text
News for the Jamaican lesbian, all-sexual and gay community
iluniE I Issue ID
^\\i Hammca O^utpoat
EstablisbEd in June 2DD4 ISSN D7BB-I72X
Kingstnn, Jamaica
Global HeadlinGS
Guyana's SASOD discusses
ways to eradicate disaimina-
tion on the basis of sexual ori-

Zimbabwe's top female
athlete turns out to be a

British health authori-
ties warn of a rise in the
rare Lymphogranuloma
venereum infection.

Peruvian court order
the National Police of
Peru to rehire cop fired
for marrying a transsex-
ual without prior consent.

Philippine gay rebel sol-
diers tie the knot at a jun-
gle base.
The Jamaica DutPnst
P.D. 554D, Kingston B, Jamaica
TeI: 87B-8B4-I85B
Email: jamaicaDutpcstUbctmail.com
Publication Team:
Jasnn Simmnnds
Publicatinn Cnnrdinatnr

Antbnny Hrnn
Publicatinn Assistant

Kaitb Hollar
Copy Editor

A montbly publication by GL Publisbing
Visit us onlina at:
By Jason Simmonds, Tbe Jamaica QutPost
The now-notorious life-
style of the inner cities of
Kingston came to fame in
the early '60s when reg-
gae music found a new
niche market. By the end
of the 1980s, the sounds
of reggae soon gave way
to a more vibrant genre
called dancehall, which
was to transform the per-
ceptions and lifestyle of
many who inhabit some of
Kingston's seemingly bor-
derless ghetto areas. The
gay youth in the ghetto
became a prime target for
dancehall lyrics and social
ostracism. This is the
story of one "ghetto yute"
who also happens to be
At first glance, the look of
despair and chronic fear
on John's (not his real
name) face seems to tell
the whole story. Dressed
The Attorney General and Minister of Justice at NCU Seminar (ThE Jamaica DutPnst Phntn)
in slacks, he settles down to
take me on a journey into
his world: his life in the
ghetto. At his current age,
John has lived all his life in
a south-side ghetto commu-
nity of Kingston. The vivid
images of dilapidated
houses made of zinc with-
out proper roofing are noth-
ing if not consistent in his
mind. After completing his
secondary-school educa-
tion, John was able to hold
only temporary odd jobs to
make ends meet. His
choices were limited to the
(See Inner City on page 2)
By Jason Simmonds, Tbe Jamaica QutPost Contributor
The attorney general
and Minister of Justice,
the Honourable A.J.
Nicholson, says that
Jamaica's gay commu-
nity will get state pro-
tection only through a
referendum. The state-
ment was made during
the staging of a two-
day seminar on human
rights, held at the
Northern Caribbean
University in Mande-
ville in conjunction
with the Ministry of

Even though the or-
ganisers of the semi-
nar did not set aside
any specific time allot-
ment for discussing
gay rights, the minister
was asked to account
for the injustice being
inflicted on this local
minority group during
a question-and-answer
session. A brief com-
parison with the cur-
rent South African
(See NCU on page 3)

The Jamaica DutPost
Marcb 2DD5 Vnluma I Issue ID Kingston, Jamaica
Page 2
(Inner City...Continued from page 1)
welding skills he had gained while in secondary school.
This, however, was not enough to provide him with the
opportunity to leave the ghetto. It was not enough to af-
ford him the standard of living that would take him from
the hardship he endures within the heart of the dance-
hall culture. According to John, after his brothers found
out about his sexual orientation, they did everything
they could to make him feel isolated. His mother dis-
owned him, saying she didn't want a battyman son (a
son who is gay).
John confided that he always knew he was gay. He
felt strong attraction to people of the same gender. For
him, the experience was frightening. He was petrified
that he was "one a dem too"(a homosexual as well). He
related his experiences of seeing guys in his community
beat up other men who are perceived to be gay. The
violent treatment and persistent attacks against other
gay men that he witnessed led him to suppress his own
sexuality and inherently took on the heavy-hat persona
(behave as though he was attracted to women and not
men). Not wishing to have a baby-mother or even a girl-
friend, he was soon labeled within his community as a
funny man. Though he said he was never harmed
physically by anyone in his community, he suffered in-
ternally as a result of the perceptions attributed to gay
men within the ghetto communities. A sense of inferior-
ity took charge of his own outlook on life, making him
feel that he was a misrepresentation of what masculinity
should be as dictated by the donmanship presence in
the ghettos. For most of his early 20s, John said that he
felt devastated as a human being and that thoughts of
committing suicide often crept into his head.
Salvation for John came in the form of interaction
with other members of Jamaica's GLBT community. Af-
ter meeting other gay people, he realized he was not
alone. He found comfort among other gay people and
felt he was able to live his life in acceptance of he is. A
happy ending, right? Not exactly.
Since his coming around to full self-acceptance, John
has experienced several setbacks in his personal life.
One major factor has been the inability to hold a stable
job. He sadly states that he has lost several jobs be-
cause co-workers suspected he was gay. His most re-
cent experience of discrimination in the workplace in-
volved a job that he described as a very good job. This
translated into the ability for him to rent a place to live
that was located in a more uptown community, where
he would not have been subjected to a potentially harm-
ful environment. He was employed by a company,
which is located in Kingston, as a sideman on a truck.
His sexual orientation became an issue for some co-
workers, and inevitably, the bashing began. This, of
course, is usually possible since it is almost a "cultural"
tendency for co-workers to be overtly curious about the
sexual orientation of co-workers. And with this came
many verbal assaults from fellow male workers. He was
also violently attacked by a male co-worker who hit
him with a bottle without provocation. Co-workers even
tried to set up accidents to hurt him. The cranes that
were used for the job became a hazard for him. Fol-
lowing many complaints to the manager, John felt he
was getting nowhere. Unable to resist the overwhelm-
ing pressures in that workplace, he decided it was best
for him to walk away from the job for his own safety.
Since then, John has managed to secure a janitorial
job that does not pay as much but offers the opportu-
nity to make ends meet. At his current workplace, John
said he has to maintain a hyper-heterosexual male im-
age. He does this by making a habit of complimenting
the female staff members, trying to touch their breasts
or even going as far as asking them for sexual inter-
course. For him, life has been a winding road from one
level of destitution to another.
He further spoke of an incident in which his nose
was broken during a brutal attack in New Kingston by
three men. Even though the police came to his aid and
transported him to Kingston Public Hospital, on the
way, the uniformed lawmen addressed him as "faggot
and "battybwoy"', seemingly supporting the attacks. To
further add insult to injury, the perpetrators were never
When asked for his views on the current gay de-
bate in Jamaica, he pointed out that hypocrisy is the
biggest problem in Jamaica: from men who bash gay
people while they themselves are having sexual rela-
tions with men. He also articulated that Jamaica's
GLBT community is very divided and that this lack of
unity is to the detriment of the community as a collec-
tive body. For the next generation of gay ghetto
youths, he hopes there will be more support available
to prevent them from falling into the paths that feed the
current cycle of self-destruction and hopelessness. For
now, though, John continues to live from day to day,
still clinging to his dreams of leaving the ghetto, where
his constant fear of being attacked has become a per-
manent condition. His message to the Jamaican gay
community: Stop tearing up one another. Unite and
help one another.

Be supe tD PEsd tliE April Issue of TIie Jsmsics DutPast
GeI scqusintEci with sarriE mEssuPES ynu csn tskE tD
ssfEguspd yuup jab snd ynup dignity.

Only in ThE Jsmsics DutPost
News fop Jsmsics's GLBT cammunity

The Jamaica DutPost
Marcb 2DD5 Volume I Issue ID Kingston, Jamaica
Page 3
By Jason Simmonds, Tbe Jamaica QutPost Contributor
In its commitment to the
development of the GLBT
community of Trinidad
and Tobago, entertain-
ment group DSstahood
has initiated a celebration
to promote HIV/AIDS
awareness during the
month of March. In a re-
lease from the group, the
activities throughout the
month include a drive to
promote HIV testing and
support counselling. At
the end of it all, then the
typical Trini party spirit
will take ova on Sunday
April 3, when the organi-
sation will host its Red
Sunday. The event will
feature information
booths to promote otha
health and wellness
awareness, including
breast canca and pros-
tate canca. Aiitionally,
thae will be displays
covaing gay rights in
the twin island republic.
Red Sunday is free of
cost and is open to all
membas of the commu-
For additional informa-
tion, please call 868-
748-6238 or visit their
Notice of Disclaimer
Tba viEws and opinions axpPESSEd in
tbis UEWslEttEP ara not a raflEction of
tbosE of tba publisbar. Tba publisbar
cannot ba bald liable for any offanca as
a result of any sucb views.
(NCU Cont'd from page 1)
constitution was also made during the question-
ing, specifically highlighting that country's trans-
formation from the days of apartheid to a now
human-rights-conscious society that protects
the rights of every citizen, including the GLBT
community. Interestingly, Jamaica and Jamai-
cans were among the many who supported the
economic sanctions against that country, show-
ing unmitigated disapproval of the human rights
violations under the apartheid regime. While an
entire race was being subjugated in that case
as a result of ethnicity and economic power, the
underpinning injustice of discrimination mirrors
the ongoing experience of Jamaica's gay peo-
ple, a minority group based on sexual orienta-
tion. In fact, the former Archbishop of Cape
Town and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Desmond
Tutu, affirms that homophobia is a crime
against humanity and is equally as destructive
as apartheid.

In a later comment, the minister declared, "Let
the people of Jamaica tell the government what
to do as far as gay rights are concerned," which
was followed by a half-hearted round of ap-
plause from some members of the audience. In
this regard, the overtly expressed mindset by
the Minister of Justice as far as the rights of
Jamaica's gay community are concerned re-
flects the general unjust approach and princi-
ples of the current administration in relation to
the protection of the rights of minorities in Ja-
maica, which upholds popular and/or cultural
biases over universal human rights.

We urge you, our readers, to voice your disap-
proval to the minister and to the prime minister
of Jamaica. Please log onto our website at
www.jamaicaoutpost.com and participate in
our Mail Call Campaign.
HornDphobia as unjust as apartheid

-Desmond Tutu
This issue is dedicated td the Memdrv
DF Dervck Leslie

The Jamaica DutPost
Marcb 2DD5 Volume I Issue ID Kingston, Jamaica
Page 4
By Antbony Hron, Tbe Jamaica QutPost Contributor
The new "Team Leaders" for the Jamaica Fo-
rum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays re-
cently returned from an 8-city speaking tour in
the US sponsored by Amnesty International's
Outfront program. The speaking engagements
highlighted J-FLAG's work, solicited donations
and exposed the plight of sexual minorities in
Jamaica. During a phone interview conducted
during the Chicago leg of their tour, the Leaders
and an Outfront representative
spoke about the benefits of the tour
and the outcomes they hope to
achieve through greater publicity. In
addition to increasing J-FLAG's pro-
file and allowing greater funding op-
portunities, the tour allowed the
Team Leaders to meet U.S. govern-
ment officials and collaborate with
other LGBT groups learning about
their work and strategising new ap-
proaches for addressing the chal-
lenges in Jamaica. During their pub-
lic presentations, the Team Leaders
encouraged everyone in the audience, to con-
tact the Jamaica government and demand the
repeal of the Buggery Laws and public de-
nouncements of homophobic violence. Although
these are just the "early days" of the struggle,
one Leader commented that progress is being
made, citing the agreement between the Stop
Murder Music group in the UK and Dancehall
producers to end homophobic lyrics. The other
leader encouraged the gay community to "take
back the rights that the wider society has taken
from us." In conclusion, the Amnesty represen-
tative added: "the courage and bravery [of the
Team Leaders] is just amazing and we are
grateful for it."
The Center for Gender Studies at the Univer-
sity of Chicago announced that the Lesbian
and Gay Studies Project is planning a day-
long conference exploring the art and activism
of queer Caribbean writers and artists. This
conference the first academic gathering de-
voted entirely to same sex-loving writing from
the region is motivated by the unprecedented
blossoming of queer Caribbean literature in
the last decade, as LGBT litera-
ture from Jamaica, Trinidad,
Cuba, Haiti, Puerto Rico, and
Suriname has debuted to inter-
national audiences and acclaim.
We aim to bring these literary
voices together to consider in
their own words how art and ac-
tivism bridge Caribbean, queer,
and community identities. The
conference will open Friday
night with a literary reading and
book signing followed by a sym-
posium on Saturday to be held on the Univer-
sity of Chicago campus. The symposium will
be organized around three panels on: "The
Words for It: Queer Identity, History, and Lan-
guage" "Art and Activism: Writing Gay/Human
Rights" and "Acting Gay: Performance and
Popular Culture." The event is scheduled for
April 15 and 16.
Apathy = Oppression
Sergio Sarmiento
Juin in ths discussiun svspy Dthsp THURSDAY

The Jamaica DutPost
Marcb 2DD5 Volume I Issue ID Kingston, Jamaica
Page 5
By Mambo Racine Sans Bout, Contributed article
In Vodou, homosexuals are not barred from any reli-
gious activity. They may participate in religious ser-
vices, and even become initiates and clergy people.
It is true that there is some stigma associated with
homosexuality in Haiti, but it does not take the form
of the virulent hatred evident in Jamaica, for exam-
ple, where homosexual individuals may be the vic-
tims of mob killings. Especially
among the poorer classes, where
lack of living space and privacy
makes sexual orientation obvious,
the feeling is rather that Mother Na-
ture has somehow played a sort of
"practical joke" on the person.
Homosexual men are considered
almost by definition to be under the
patronage of Erzulie Freda, the Iwa
of love and luxury. She is most
feminine and coquettish, providing
an opportunity for stereotypical ho-
mosexual behaviour to be exhibited
in a sacred context. Homosexual
women are considered very often
to be under the patronage of
Erzulie Dantor, who, while heterosexual in the sense
that she has a child, is a fierce and strong female
image. Many people think of Dantor herself as a les-
bian woman, but she is also the wife of both Ti-Jean
Retro and Simbi Makaya, two very important Iwa.
Because open homosexuals are rigorously excluded
from Protestant congregations, and frowned upon in
Catholic services, almost the only avenue for spiri-
tual expression for homosexuals in Haiti is Vodou.
There is, therefore, a higher percentage of homo-
sexuals at Vodou ceremonies, and in the priest-
hood, than in the general population.
At a few peristyles in Port-au-Prince, composed en-
tirely of gay men, or of gay women, homosexuality is
virtually an entrance requirement. I know one
Mambo, a lesbian, who has several lovers among
her female hounsis. They band together economi-
cally, doing small marketing and other activities to
assure their mutual survival.
I had another experience, of a young man, a folk-
loric dancer who was a friend of mine, who asked
me to be his marinn kanzo, or godmother. (This is
different from an initiating Mambo, who is called
maman asson, mother of the asson, the ceremonial
rattle emblematic of priesthood.) I visited the young
Homosexual man during Vodou service
(Pboto courtesy of Sans Bout)
man in seclusion in the djevo, the secret inner
chamber of the peristyle where initiates are se-
cluded and was promptly forced to abandon him
as a godchild, as he was wearing the prescribed
clothes of the opposite sex! Incorrect procedure,
rather than homosexuality per se, forced me to
take this action.
It is worth remembering that at a
Vodou ceremony, any person
may be possessed by any Iwa,
regardless of the sex of the Iwa or
the person. Homosexual men, es-
pecially initiates, are frequently
possessed by female Iwa includ-
ing Erzulie Freda. I remember
one six-foot-two Houngan who
was the mount for a Iwa named
Sainte Therese! The Mambo I
mentioned above had a very mar-
tial Ogoun in her head, and his
presence at ceremonies was ab-
solutely thrilling. The dancing of
homosexual men in particular is
often much admired, as they
combine the muscular strength of men with the vo-
luptuousness of women. Some overenthusiastic
homosexual Houngans have actually been known
to carry dresses with them when they visit at other
Houngans' ceremonies, so that their Iwa will be
properly clothed if they should appear.
Houngans and Mambos have particular passwords,
and specific gestures performed with the asson.
Homosexual Houngans and Mambos have addi-
tional gestures, which permit them to recognize
one another.
The presence of homosexuals in a congregation is
considered morally neutral the important criterion
is that the correct ceremonial procedures are fol-
lowed in any aspect of the Vodou service.

Please visit the Vodou in Haiti's website:

\Afe are compiling a directory of Caribbean GLBT aganiza-
tions. Hease contact us with information about the GLBT a-
ganizations in your community.

The Jamaica DutPost
Marcb 2DD5 Volume I Issue ID Kingston, Jamaica
Page E
BIBLE STUDY By Sbane Hicks-Lee, Guest Columnist

Each pason's soul is their own responsibility. I encourage
you to pray and clothe yourselves with the full armour of
God. (Ephesians 6:13) I pray this may prove to edify.

Wiat does God want from us?
I am convinced in my heart of hearts it is what Jesus said,
'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and
with all your soul and with all your nind. This is the great
and first commandment. And a second is like it, you shall
love your neighbour as yourself. On these Iwd command-
ments depend all the law and the prophets." (Mat 22:37-
40) This is what God wants from us: LOVE. Nothing
more; and, nothing less. I have been lead repeatedly to
Romans 14 lately. To understand it fully, I chose to start
in chapta 13. Vase 8, "Om no one anything, except to
love one anotha; for he who loves his neighbour has ful-
filled the law." To undastand love, I refa to 1 Cor 13:4 -
14:1, Love is patient, kind; not jealous, boastful, arrogant,
rude, irritable, or resentful. Love does not insist on its own
way or rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love
bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and
endures all things. So faith, hope, love remain; but the
greatest of these is love. V\fe must rememba to respond
with love to all people. Even to those who wrongly be-
lieve that heaven is only for hetaosexuals. Know that
God loves you! That bears repeating to our community:
God Loves You! Rom 8:1, 'Thae is thaefae now no
condemnation fa those who are in Christ Jesus." Rom
8:35, "Wio shall separate us from the love of Christ?
Shall tribulation, a distress, a pasecution, a famine, a
nakedness, a pail, a swDrd?' Vase 38, "Fa I am sure
that neitha death, na life, na angels, na principalities,
na things present, na things to come, na powers, nor
height, na depth, na anything else in all aeation, will be
able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus
our Lad." V\fe need to rejoice and give thanks to Him.
He loves us!
Next Bible Study:

Duly in Tbe Jamaica DutPost...news for Jamaica's GLBT community
From V\/here: Via JaiTEiicaoiitpost.com

I am glad mae gays, lesbians and bisexuals are coming
out this year in Jamaica. I keep saying I only wish thae
wae mae support groups available fa us. Me pason-
ally, I'm 28 years. I've been a lesbian since i v\as 12. I
first found out at age 9.1 have been strong fa myself but
not all are v\dl. Anyway, keep doing what you are doing
and to all gays in Jamaica: Keep your heads up high and
be safe. Hopefully this year mae support groups and
events will be established. [L Hastings]

FromV\/here: Ban^ok, Thailand.

I live in Bangkok with my husband and we wae in
Phuket when the Tsunami hit. V\fe have a pretty good
idea of the size of the devastation. Wiat I v\Qnt to say is
that afta reading Enily and Rosanna's efforts in Sri
Lanka in the Tsunami relief, only some of us can give
their all. Thank you Enily and Rosanna. [Manjula
Muthu Krishna]

From\Miere: Jamaicaoiitpost.com

I have always been inspired by EMs bright spirit &
proud of the wDrk that she did. Keep up the good hu-
manitarian efforts Em & Rosanna & thanks fa keeping
me updated on the Tsunami crisis. [Nina]
' Rate valid for delivery to Jamaican addresses. Email for otber addresses)

The Jamaica DutPost
Marcb 2DD5 Volume I Issue ID Kingston, Jamaica
Page 7
By Jason Simmonds, Tbe Jamaica ButPost Contributor
The Jamaica OutPost is pleased to inform our readas that
the newsletta is now an official media partna of the 1^*
V\forid Outgames Montreal 2006.
The ^^ V\forid Outgames Montreal 2006,
Rendez-Vous Montreal 2006, is sched-
uled fa July 29 to August 5, 2006. The
event is based on the principles of F^-
tidpation and Celebration, Respect and
Fairness, Innovation, Dversity and Em-
powament (PRIDE) and welcomes
everyone, regardless of their sexual ori-
entation, age, genda, race, religion,
nationality, ethnicity, physical challenge,
political beliefs, physical ability, athletic/
artistic skills a HIV health status. Thae
are no minimum athletic standards to
qualify fa the Outgames. The only re-
quirement is the desire to support the
ideals of the Outgames. People with
specific needs a disabilities are inte-
grated as full-fledged participants, vd-
unteas, officials and spectatas. By ac-
cepting the Outgames' challenge, all
which is dubbed
Montreal's BIympic Park (Pboto courtesy of Butgames)
Outgames participants automatically become winnas.
The Qigamss are a safe and accepting
environment v\here participants may express themselves
openly and enjoy the canBraderie and rewards of sport,
cUture and art. And through these athletic and cUtural
activities of the Qigamss, stereotypes
are challenged and barriers broten
doAn. In fact, the experience can be
the hic|ilight of a lifetime!
The Jamaica OutPost, in
collaboration with a leading memba
of Jamaica's GLBT community is
seeking to put a team togetha to
participate in the ^^ V\forld Out-
games Montreal 2006. The sports
available are football, basketball,
track and field, cycling, gdf, karate,
marathon, physique, triathlon, ten-
nis, beach volleyball and swimming.
Please contact us as soon as possi-
ble if you are a Jamaican resident
who wishes to become a memba of
this team
Any comments?
Hease send to
jamaicaoutpost@hotmail .com
Call us at 8G4-I85G
Email us: jamaicaDutpDst@hDtmail.CDm
News for tbe Jamaican lesbian, all-sexual and gay community
OL sa
Montreal 2006
= ^

The Jamaica DutPost
Marcb 2DD5 Volume I Issue ID Kingston, Jamaica
Page 8
Last Month's DutPoll Results
Are you personally acquainted
with anyone living with the HIV
virus or AIDS?

YES 52% ND 3B% UNSURE 12%

How important is gay rigtts
advocacy fa you?


V\fe all experience unwanted
conflict in life from time to time.
VMiether it is physical or psycho-
logical, the bodys initial reaction
is usually the same the bio-
chemical "fight or flight" hor-
fvone, Cortisol, is released into
the bloodstream and readies the
body for action. Lhfortunately
excess Cortisol can have many
negative effects on the body
such as weakening the inrnune
system, raising blood pressure
or contributing to weight gain
To make matters worse, this
horn^ne also affects brain func-
tion, shutting down the more
rational thinking processes as
the "survival instinct" takes over.
As a result, once a conflict situa-
tion begins, some people can find
it very difficult to firid to respond in
a non-aggressive way. Since it
can take up to 24 hours for Cortisol
levels to return to normal after a
conflict and since sonBthing as
small as being cut off in traffic can
trigger the "fight or flight" re-
sponse, ntjst of us exist in a state
of heightened anxiety and reduced
mental function.
So what can we do about this?
Focused prayer or medtation has
been shown to release cortisol-
neutralizing hormones in the body,
so this is a good approach to re-
turn to healthy function after a
conflict situation. A nxxe ideal ap-
proach would be to prevent the
"fight or flight" response in the first
place. This means avoiding
settings in which conflict is
likely to occur, remaining calm
if conflict erupts by assuring a
detached perspective, and re-
sponding to those instigating
conflict with conpassion and
forgiveness. TTiese aren't easy
tasks, especially if our Cortisol
levels are high to begin with,
but with patience and practice,
you will find conflict lessening
for yourself and those around
you. As it turns out, the sage
advice of Jesus to 'turn the
other cheeK' is not only medi-
cine for the soul but also a pre-
saiption for a healthy body.
IntErnatiDnal News
"I rise in support of a
Canada in which liber-
ties are safeguarded,
rights are protected
and the people of this
land are treated as
equals under the law."
These were among the
opening words of the
Canadian Prime Minis-
ter Paul Martin in his
February 16 address to
the House of Com-
mons on Parliamentary
Hill in the Canadian
capital city of Ottawa.
Currently, same-sex
marriages are legal in
seven Canadian prov-
inces and one territory.
The Supreme Court of
Canada, in a landmark
ruling on December 9
of last year, further de-
clared that it is up to
the head court in Ot-
tawa to decide who has
the right to marry in Can-
ada but indicated that reli-
gious organisations have
no obligation to perform
marriages against their
doctrinal principles. Prime
Minister Martin also af-
firmed that the govern-
ment will forge full steam
ahead to implement con-
stitutional amendments
that will ensure marriage
equality for same-gender
couples during 2005.
The challenge for all
Canadian same-gender
couples is still not over,
as the justice minister of
Alberta, one of the prov-
inces that does not pro-
vide marriage equality,
has indicated that the
province's definition of
marriage as exclusively
between a man and a
woman will not be
changed, irrespective of
the outcome of future rul-
ings by the Supreme Court
or the Constitutional Court
of Canada.
The march toward
equality for same-gender
couples in Canada was
first rewarded on April 11,
2000, when Bill C-23, intro-
duced by then-Prime Min-
ister Jean Chretien, was
passed in Parliament by a
vote of 174-72. The bill
provided social and tax
benefits equal to those of
common-law heterosexual
couples following a cohabi-
tation period of one year.
An attempt to amend the
Constitution to define mar-
riage as "the lawful union
of one man and one
woman to the exclusion of
all others" failed to pass.
On January 14, 2001,
two same-gender cou-
ples were pronounced
married by the Rev.
Brent Hawkes of the
Metropolitan Commu-
nity Church in Toronto,
despite stern affirma-
tions from a govern-
ment official that On-
tario would not recog-
nize same-gender mar-
riages. Since then, the
provinces of Ontario,
British Columbia, Oue-
bec, Manitoba, Nova
Scotia, Newfoundland
and Labrador have all
legalized same-gender
marriages. The United
Church of Canada
voted on August 14,
2003, to endorse mar-
riage equality for same-
gender couples
throughout Canada.