murdered in Jamaica
by Heather Cassell
A transgender Jamaican teen was reportedly beaten, stabbed, shot, and run over by a car last month after going to a party dressed as a girl.
News of the brutal July 22 attack reached international media outlets over the weekend.
The 16-year-old teen, identified in media reports by her birth name, Dwayne Jones, lived in a rundown house with other transgender teens in the north coast city of Montego Bay, said a person who identified herself as Khloe, 23, one of Jones's roommates.
Khloe declined to provide her last name out of fear, according to media reports.
Jones had been kicked out of her house by her father when she was 14 years old, according to the reports.
Khloe said she started "shaking and crying" when she saw Jones's mutilated body.
She, too, was also beaten and nearly raped, reported the Associated Press.
"It was horrible. It was so, so painful to see him [sic] like that," she said.
The AP reported that police spokesman Steve Brown said authorities are investigating the case.
No suspects have been arrested for the murder, despite an estimated 300 people attending the party.
Police are allegedly struggling with a "strong anti-informant culture."
Jones's family refused to claim her body, according to the AP.
Khloe and Jones attended the party with their other roommate, Keke, also 23, according to the news outlet. The trio arrived at the party around 2 a.m. by taxi.
Jones was attractive to the men at the party, until she saw a friend from church and told her that she was "attending the party in drag," reported the news outlet.
Soon after Jones was surrounded by men asking her if she was a woman or a man, the news outlet reported. They examined her under a light before beginning to hurl anti-gay epithets at her.
Jones allegedly added fuel to the situation by insisting to the men that she was a girl, as Khloe attempted to lead her away from the incited crowd.
The breaking point was when Jones's bra was snapped and she attempted to outrun the mob.
Jamaica has a long history of anti-LGBT sentiment and violence. Human and LGBT rights experts have called it one of the most dangerous countries in the world for LGBTs.
Trans woman attacked in Honduras
Arely Victoria Gomez Cruz, a transgender woman living in Honduras, was reportedly beaten and stripped of all of her clothing and paraphernalia in the middle of a Tegucigalpa street by four men August 9.
Cruz escaped with her life.
The news release was translated by Charlie Hinton, a San Francisco gay activist with the Bay Area Latin America Solidarity Coalition and Gays without Borders.
This is the latest attack on the Central American country's transgender community, activists said.
In June, Jonathan Cruz, a transgender rights activist with the Association for a Better Life for Persons Infected and Affected by HIV/AIDS, managed to survive being shot at, and the same month activist Sandra Zambrano's daughter was abducted in the same spot Cruz was attacked. She was later abandoned in another location in Tegucigalpa.
California legislators make moves against Russia
On August 12, openly gay California state Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) introduced Senate Resolution 18, urging the state's pension funds to halt future investments in Russia due to the nation's anti-gay laws.
The nonbinding prospective resolution is aimed at the California Public Employees' Retirement System and the California State Teachers' Retirement System, the state's two largest pension funds. The move was prompted in part by reports that CalPERS had recently invested in a Russian shopping center in Moscow, Leno told the Bay Area Reporter. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed, according to a press release from Hines, which is in a joint venture with CalPERS under the Hines CalPERS Russia Long Term Hold Fund.
"As long as these new laws are in place, it's my opinion that California should not be making any future investments in that country," said Leno.
He was referring to the new anti-gay propaganda law signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The law includes stiff fines and jail time for Russian citizens and others who "propagate" homosexuality to minors.
"It's time for us to say, 'Enough is enough,'" said Leno, pointing out that European nations continuously rank Russia 49th out of 49 countries when it comes to protecting its LGBT citizens.
Since the passage of the law, hate crimes against LGBT individuals have reportedly been on the rise. Reports of LGBT Russians seeking asylum in Canada and the U.S. have begun to surface.
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and openly gay state Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) joined Leno in sponsoring the resolution. Equality California, a statewide LGBT advocacy organization, also backed it.
"California does not tolerate discrimination and we certainly shouldn't invest in it," EQCA Executive Director John O'Connor said in a news release from Leno's office. "Our investments should align with our values and never reward discrimination against individuals based on their sexual orientation or gender identity."
At its meeting Wednesday morning, the Legislative LGBT Caucus agreed to work collaboratively on ensuring the Senate passes the resolution. It also plans to send a letter to the International Olympic Committee urging it to protect LGBT athletes during the Winter Games.
"We also plan to closely monitor the situation," said Caucus Chair Assemblyman Rich Gordon (D-Menlo Park). "We remain supportive of the efforts of various activists in this regard and remain exceedingly concerned, particularly in light of the IOC comments yesterday. So we think the situation remains somewhat fluid."
Gordon was referring to a report by Gay Star News that the IOC charter prohibits athletes from making political demonstrations and can be punished for doing so.
Leno expects the resolution to go to the Senate floor before September 12, when lawmakers wrap up the legislative session.
Along with encouraging the state's pension funds to steer away from investing in Russia, the resolution also encourages companies with employee retirement funds invested in and doing business in Russia not to violate human rights. It also calls upon the International Olympic Committee to seek a "written guarantee" from Russian's government that athletes and other visitors to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi won't be persecuted under the new anti-gay laws.
Additionally, the resolution calls upon NBCUniversal to educate viewers about Russia's federal so-called gay gag law during the Olympic broadcast.
Leno wants "NBCUniversal to use every opportunity in their coverage of the Winter Olympics – opening ceremonies, closing ceremonies – to educate their viewers as to the dangerous nature of this assault on LGBT Russians and those who are visiting Russia," he said.
The same day Leno announced his intention to introduce the resolution to the Legislature, NBCUniversal attempted to reassure its LGBT employees that it would do everything it could to protect those covering the Olympics in Sochi next winter, according to multiple news sources.
Leno isn't expecting Republican support for the resolution.
"Clearly, human rights should not be a partisan issue, [but] I am not confident that we will get any Republican votes on this," said Leno. "But, we will have significant Democratic votes to get it passed."
Leno said he hoped the retirement systems would abide by the resolution.
"We hope that they will listen to our legislative voice, because we do have authority to direct them and prohibit them," he said.
If heads of the pension funds don't heed the legislative call to back off on investments in Russia, California lawmakers might take more drastic moves similar to when California led the way against apartheid in South Africa in the late 1980s.
On August 27, 1986, California lawmakers passed legislation divesting four years of $11.4 billion in state funding of companies doing business in South Africa, reported the Mohave Daily Miner .
Leno hopes that other states and countries will once again follow the Golden State's lead.
"My hope is that other state legislatures ... [and] that other nations will follow our lead," said Leno. "And collectively we will have a significant impact on the amount of foreign investment in Russia."
Got international LGBT news tips? Call or send them to Heather Cassell at 00+1-415-221-3541, Skype: heather.cassell, or mailto:.