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'No gay agenda' - JFJ dismisses claims that it has been captured by homosexual lobby

Published:Sunday | September 7, 2014 | 9:00 AM
Dr Barry Wade

Arthur Hall, Senior News Editor

Dr Barry Wade, the recently installed chairman of the human-rights entity Jamaicans For Justice (JFJ), has rejected claims that the lobby group has sold out to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.

According to Wade, since news broke about the human sexuality course which JFJ introduced in six private children's homes, there has been an incorrect claim that it is following a gay agenda, "or that the board had been taken over by gay activists, which, again, is totally false".

"When you look at the composition of the board, both the previous and the new board, to link them to any gay agenda is just ridiculous," Wade told The Sunday Gleaner, as he pointed to the work done by the organisation over the past 15 years and which it continues to do now, such as its activities in assisting the family of Mario Deane, who was beaten to death while in police custody in St James last month.

JFJ has been under pressure since June when The Sunday Gleaner broke the news that it had introduced a controversial programme to the children which seemed to indicate, among other things, that anal sex was a normal part of intercourse.

The programme was funded by the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities (CVC) which has been labelled a gay lobby group, although it has rejected this moniker. News of the programme and the sponsor sparked widespread claims that JFJ had adopted a gay agenda.

Among those raising questions of the agenda of the lobby group was Betty Ann Blaine, children's advocate and founder of Hear the Children's Cry.

"Are you trying to push the LGBT agenda through the back door, and are you doing so with children who don't have any parents to defend them or advocate for them?" questioned Blaine at the time.

"What we are asking Jamaicans for Justice to do is tell the Jamaican people exactly what is their agenda. I think it is very clear now that there is an agenda, and they must tell the people of Jamaica," charged Blaine.

Funding claims rubbished

But Wade argued that there is no truth that the group is now getting funding from the powerful international gay lobby. "We are continuing to get funding along the lines that we have always received," said Wade.

"From its very inception, JFJ has received funds from various foreign governments as well as international human rights bodies, so we have received funding from the United States, out of Great Britain ... and out of Germany.

"At one time, we were accused of taking money from a Nazi group out of Germany. This was interesting and even comical to us because a member of our board at the time was a very prominent Jewish woman in the Jamaican society."

Wade, who has appeared as the face of the JFJ in defending its actions in the children's homes, said the programme was aimed at helping the youngsters with how to avoid, prevent and report predation of a sexual nature.

According to Wade, the programme was carried out in collaboration with the children's homes, which signed a memorandum of understanding with JFJ as to how the programme should be done.

"They asked JFJ to carry out the programme because it was needed in the children's homes, and the material was delivered in the presence of the caregivers who, after the programme, said how much they appreciated it and how much the children benefited from it and asked us to continue the programme in a third stage," Wade said.

Wade said the children who participated in the programme where chosen by the children's homes, not JFJ, which had only indicated that the cohort should be between the ages of 13 and 17.

"Some of the girls, 13, 14, 15 years of age, were already mothers, and no doubt some of the boys were already fathers," said Wade.

"Many of them were already HIV-infected. Some of them had come from a sodomised environment, either before or during their stay at the children's home, and a number of them were involved in illicit sex ... so these were not uninitiated youngsters chosen by JFJ," added Wade, as he defended the programme which he said was designed to teach the children how to respond if they were preyed on.