Liberate

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

On International Day of Persons with Disabilities (3 December), Liberate are reminding Jersey organisations that they have until 31 August 2020 to make reasonable adjustments to physical features in their premises.

Many organisations have already made adjustments to their provisions, criteria and practices (“PCPs”) and provided auxiliary aids that include people with disabilities in workplaces. Now, with just a few months to go until the two year grace period within the Discrimination (Jersey) Law runs out, organisations need to be making those adjustments to the physical features of workplaces, too.

Paddy Haversham-Quaid, CXO Liberate, said: “A number of organisations have said to us that they aren’t sure what a ‘reasonable’ adjustment is for their business, and many fear that adjustments will cost them a lot of money. This is why we have launched a new scheme called Accès aimed at helping organisations navigate making adjustments to ensure their business is inclusive for people with disabilities.

“We are offering an audit of an organisation’s premises and training to help organisations to understand what is reasonable for their business when it comes to making physical adjustments. We have a group of Accessibility Ambassadors, with different disabilities, who are going to assist us with the audits to demonstrate to organisations, in a practical way, where they can improve.

“Organisations that are audited, make adjustments and undertake the training are given our Accès badge to demonstrate to employees and customers that they take accessibility for Jersey’s disabled community seriously. We hope that the Accès kitemark will become a trusted symbol for people in Jersey with a disability.”

To find out more about Accès, please click here.

Liberate reveals the results of their research into HIV support in the Channel Islands

Liberate have found that more needs to be done to combat the stigma of living as HIV positive in the Islands. More than thirty years on from the first cases of HIV in the Channel Islands, misinformation, myths and prejudice persist, making it difficult for islanders living with HIV to be open with those closest to them. Only 58% of islanders living with HIV had told a family member of their condition.

One year ago on World AIDS Day (1 December) Liberate asked Channel Islanders to assist in a research project to provide the charity with information about the nature of the work that needs to be done in the Islands to provide more support for those living with HIV. As part of their research, Liberate also visited Terrence Higgins Trust, the National AIDS Trust and StopAIDS, and Liberate interviewed The Orchard Clinic (Guernsey), the States of Guernsey’s Health Educator, Brook Jersey, YouMatter and the GUM clinic in Jersey.

As a result of the research, Liberate have produced a report with 13 recommendations for the Third Sector (government and charities). A copy of Liberate’s report can be downloaded here.

Vic Tanner Davy, CEO Liberate, said: “As a charity, the priority for us is clear. We need to do more to reduce stigma in the Islands and that starts with education – whether that is in the form of new government information campaigns, or workshops that give people the facts about HIV, or making it part of sex education lessons in schools. When someone comes out as living with HIV it should result in support for that person; the fear remains that it will result in rejection by friends, family and colleagues.”

Additional work that the report highlights is the need to combat the spread of HIV by encouraging people to get tested and know their status, and by making PrEP (a drug that can stop HIV infections from being passed on) available on the health service in both Bailiwicks.

Liberate have the support of Terrence Higgins Trust for their work, which will commence in 2020. Dominic Edwardes, Executive Director of Communications at Terrence Higgins Trust, said: “We fully support work in the Channel Islands to update people’s knowledge of HIV. We’ve made huge medical progress in the fight against HIV that means someone diagnosed early and accessing treatment has the same life expectancy as anyone else. But public perceptions haven’t kept up with the pace and stigma and discrimination remain key issues for people living with HIV. We’re keen to work with Liberate to help shape the Channel Island’s HIV response, including through stigma training and increasing access to HIV testing.”

Pride 2019

CI Pride 2019 started on Friday 6 September 2019 with a reading by children’s LGBT+ author, Olly Pike, at the Jersey Library. Olly presented the Government of Jersey Assistant Education Minister, Jeremy Maçon, with sets of his books for all Jersey primary schools. The event was sponsored by MasonBreese and we would like to thank them for supporting this initiative.

Many Jersey businesses had decorated their premises and raised the rainbow flag since the Monday of Pride week. The honours for biggest splash this year went to RBC who lit up both towers of their building and had four flags on their flagpoles. Thank you to all the businesses, large and small, who participated and showed their support. There were many more this year making St Helier feel welcoming.

On Saturday 7 September 2019 at 2pm the CI Pride parade started off from Royal Square, taking a new route to the waterfront. The parade was led this year by the Jersey Scout band wearing their rainbow ties. The crowds lining King Street applauded and cheered as the parade filled the length of main shopping street from the Square to Charing Cross. Turning into Castle Street, the parade then went right through the financial district, cutting through the Esplanade car park. The tunnel between the car park and the Waterfront was an unexpected bonus as paradegoers realised they could get the tunnel to “boom” from their drums, shouts and whistles.

On the Waterfront, the parade was joined by the Police, Fire and Ambulance vehicles who then led it into the Pride village.

As the head of the parade reached the Freedom tree the 50m long rainbow banner was rolled out, giving the media and photographers a great shot of the banner, the marina, Elizabeth Castle, the sun, sea and sand. It encapsulated Pride on the Beach.

Estimates put the number of attendees at over 5,000 making it the biggest CI Pride yet.

The Village

The Pride village was bigger and better than before, with more stalls, more charities and more family-friendly activities.

Thank you to HSBC, who made the quiet zone possible; thank you to Lloyds, who made the family fun zone possible; thank you to RBC, who sponsored the silent disco; and, thank you to Barclays, who also supported elements of the Pride village.

The Pride stage was compered by Ollie Bailey-Davies and Tigger Blaize, our friends from Liberate Guernsey. The opening speeches were made by Mark Cox from our lead sponsor the Channel Islands Co-Operative Society; Olly Pike; and, Christian May, who set the tone for this year’s more political Pride, making the point that CI Pride reaches out to those people around the world who do not enjoy the same freedoms that we do in the Channel Islands.

The entertainment was headlined by the London Gay Big Band, who really got the party started, and fabulous sets from local acts including Jamie Boylan, Sister Disco and Inside Job.

Down on the beach, activities were taking place with a drag race, tug of love (not war), sandcastle competition and the very popular kilted yogis.

The Theme

Honouring what makes us different – Affirming what we have in common

On 7 September 2019, for the first time ever, Channel Islands Pride was on the beach of St Aubin’s Bay with Elizabeth Castle as our backdrop. Pride on the Beach highlighted two aspects of island life of which we are rightly proud – our coastline and our heritage – but it also celebrated what is arguably the most important part of Island life: community.

#PrideOnTheBeach was about saying loudly and proudly that this is everyone’s Island and the LGBTQ+ community is integral to Jersey’s story: past, present and future.

Pride celebrates community at its best: affirming our common humanity while honouring our differences, where we fight for everyone’s right to live free from prejudice, persecution and invisibility. At a time where violence is growing against LGBTQ+ people in many places in the world, it’s important for everyone, be they LGBTQ+ or allies, to stand together, show solidarity and celebrate the beauty of diversity.

Channel Islands Pride is all-inclusive event, open to anyone who wants to support the LGBTQ+ community and to celebrate and promote equality for all in the Channel Islands and across the world.

Thank you

Pride 2019 could not have happened without our generous supporters and our volunteers who helped to marshal people and equipment on the day of Pride. Thank you to the CI Pride team, led by CI Pride Director, Christian May.

Thank you to The Channel Islands Co-Operative Society, our leading sponsor, Citi and G4S, our major sponsors.

Thank you also to Magic Touch, who also created and sold all our merchandise, Delta, Jersey Water, and Vibert Marquees. Thank you to the Parish of St Helier, the States of Jersey Police, St John Ambulance and the Jersey Waterfront Development Company, who make the logistics of Pride so much easier.

Thank you all for your contribution to making CI Pride 2019 the biggest yet!

I am a… Woman in a Male-Dominated Profession

I am a woman working in a male-dominated profession. The profession doesn’t start off as male-dominated – there are as many female graduates as male. It’s when you look at the top of the profession, its leaders, that you notice a significant lack of female representation. I don’t have time here (or the word count!) to discuss why that is this case and it is a complex issue, so I am going to talk about two particular concerns which I have encountered as a female leader at the top of my profession. These may seem minor to you, but when you have to contend with them over a long period of time, they can be challenging and often upsetting.

As I climbed the career ladder and started to manage people, I was often called bossy and (worse) a female dog. Initially I didn’t attribute this to my gender, but thought I needed to improve my management-style and that I was at fault. I criticised myself. Over the years though, I started to analyse these instances and realised that I hadn’t done anything wrong- I was leading my team as I should and also in the same way as my male colleagues, who received no such criticism. It is worth noting here- I was criticised more by women than by men! I thought that this criticism had stopped – I reached the top of my career. Recently, I went to a networking event with a junior female colleague. After networking separately for a while, she came to tell me that one of our competitors (a man) had just said to her that I was “over-powering” and “controlling”. She was shocked and had told him that was rubbish and that she enjoyed working with me. I told her we should take it as a compliment- he had been trying to poach her! Deep down though, I was upset both for my young colleague and for myself.

On the subject of networking: it’s a challenge for women. Many of the networking events which attract our clients are male-dominated sporting events: golf, rugby etc. When organising your own networking events, try thinking of events which would be interesting to both sexes: wine tasting, a family fun sports day or horse racing perhaps. Male-dominated sporting events are a necessary evil- where personal alliances develop into working relationships. Your male competitors will be there!

I am a… Mother in a Same-Sex Marriage

I am a mother of one-year old twin girls. I also happen to be in a same-sex marriage, which led to some challenges and obstacles when my daughters were born last year. Currently, in Jersey, when a lesbian couple have a child (through assisted reproduction), only the birth mother is named on the birth certificate and is recognised as a legal parent. In contrast, in the UK, the birth mother’s spouse or civil partner is also named on the birth certificate and therefore has parental responsibility. The situation in Jersey represents an inequality, as when different-sex couples register a birth, the husband is automatically registered as a parent. Due to the inequality that exists in Jersey, my wife and I had to go to court to obtain parental responsibility for myself.

My wife and I had spoken about starting a family for many years. After marrying in the UK in 2015 we felt that we were in the right position to bring children into a stable and loving relationship. The IVF journey was long, stressful and very costly, and during this time we moved to Jersey.

The process of going to court to obtain parental responsibility also took time and money (in legal costs), at a time when we wanted to focus our time and resources on raising our two beautiful babies. During this period of time, when we were going through the legal process, our daughters were left in a very risky position. As the law stands in Jersey, our daughters could have been left parentless if anything had happened to my wife before our court date.  I have also found this process very difficult on a personal level. The day when two parents go to register the birth of their child / children, should be an exciting, celebratory day. For me, it was tinged with sadness. I looked on, as the registrar recorded our daughters as only having one parent (my wife), even though they were conceived using my eggs and we had been through the whole journey together as a couple.

I believe that the law in Jersey needs to change, in order to address this inequality and most importantly to protect children. Potentially, some fairly straightforward amendments to the existing Children (Jersey) Law 2002 could resolve this.

I am a… Member of the Polish Community

I am a member of a Polish community in Jersey. Since my arrival in year 2000 I’ve met many people from different walks of life and cultures. I’ve learnt a whole lot about Jersey history, language and society. I enjoyed the natural environment, quiet atmosphere of living, pushed myself to upgrade further my education and worked hard to reach the place in life I wanted to be.

There are many positive things that can be said about Jersey. I do appreciate the conciliatory way of resolving problems regardless what they are. I like the charitable nature of many initiatives on the Island because they require participation in community life and make people to come together. I welcome the fact that any resident paying rates can influence decisions important for his/hers Parish and that after relatively short period of time of being resident here one can vote. I value that legal help is available for those who are not on high income. I rate highly opportunity available for everyone who wants to use them and fact that Jersey despite being a small spot on a map is relatively well known worldwide.

There are also things that make me uncomfortable. I wish something could be done about including Poles in all aspects of Island’s life on a States scale like it is other countries to harness their experience and knowledge. Without that Poles feel unaccomplished, trapped in a world where there is no way to develop and then they leave. I hope that local people could take more serious interest in Poles as individuals instead of repeating some rotten stereotypes Poles do not recognize. By doing that they would make Poles feel less alienated. I wish no Pole is called ‘an import’ just because he or she has voice and knows how to use it. It would make them feel less regretful that I don’t live somewhere else. I wish no-one say that Polish language is not welcome on streets of St. Helier because comments like that bring the worst memories of Polish genocides and persecutions for speaking our native language. No-one wants to loose own heritage why would Poles be any different. I also wish that someone finally addresses fears of Poles taking local jobs who often work 12 -14 hours with no breaks. Ambition and commitment will always stick above the parapet and hammering Poles for it doesn’t serve Jersey well.

I am a… Survivor of Child Sexual Abuse

I am a survivor of and thriver from child sexual abuse. I am strong. I try every day to be kind.

I took the stand as a witness for the prosecution in an historic paedophile trial. I didn’t want to send an elderly man to prison. I wanted him to own what he’d done and seek help and forgiveness. Instead, he hid behind deceit and lies, and he won. He was found unanimously Not Guilty. I was accused of being the liar by the defence team. I didn’t expect that. I’m not a liar.

Having spent forty years coming to terms with my abuse via numerous counsellors and psychotherapists, I then had to come to terms with the verdict from the trial. It has taken time, but I have done so and I believe that the universe has given my justice to another not as strong as me.

I maintain, as I’ve always done, even since childhood, that good people don’t hurt people. I believe only hurt, damaged people, hurt others. And I question the ‘why’? What childhood experience leads us humans to abuse others when we become adults? Why do adults abuse children whether sexually, emotionally and/or physically?  Is it the sense of power over these children and easy access to children? Is it a form of bullying, projecting onto children what happened to us as children? Or is it an addiction, something that some are born with, like other forms of addiction?

I believe wholeheartedly that if a person owns they are having urges or thoughts around abusing or bullying children then they need our kindness and our help. I am not sure what is on offer in terms of rehabilitation and therapy in the prison system for these crimes but, if we really want to stop reoffending and make our island safer for children, this type of service is crucial. I believe that, if these criminals genuinely seek therapeutic help, it would be far more beneficial than longer prison sentences.

Obviously, there will always be those who, as in my experience, hide behind deceit and lies, and they may never own their crimes and may never deserve forgiveness. It is important to remember, though, when we don’t forgive our abuser it is only us as individuals that carry the burden of our past. We need to be kind to ourselves and seek our own help to enable us to forgive and let go.

It could be worse. We could be the ones who abuse.  How awful must that be to live with every day?

#metoo

I am a… Bisexual

I am a bisexual. This is, probably, the most invisible of the “LGBT” (lesbian, gay, bi, trans) identities. With the others, you generally “come out” once and that’s it. For a bisexual it seems like you are coming out with each new partner. If you date someone of the same sex, or of a different gender to your last partner, you come out all over again. Every time you meet someone new, you’re accused of switching sides, and bombarded with comments like, “you’re confused”, “pick a team” or “it’s a phase!” If you then get into a heterosexual relationship your identity is completely ignored. “Thank goodness you decided to be normal!”

Worse than this though is the prejudice that comes with admitting to being bisexual. You are immediately thought of as promiscuous. If you’re a woman, straight men think it’s a ticket to a threesome and/or accuse you of cheating with your female friends, and lesbians don’t want to date you because they think you’ll go off with a man. If you’re male, there’s a lot of pressure to choose a side. Even so-called allies of the LGBT community are sceptical of you. As a result, many of us are made to feel ashamed and embarrassed of our sexuality.

The thing is bisexuality is likely the least understood, so it is treated as an invalid identity. But let me tell you we are not confused, it is not a phase, and we do know what monogamy is (no, it’s not a type of wood!). Being bi is just as valid as being any other sexual identity. Typically, it is the person – their personality traits, appearance, sense of humour – we are attracted to. What that person identifies as is inconsequential.

In fact, if we are honest lots of people to a degree are bisexual. Even those who identify as straight or gay may have tried it, and some like to dabble more than they openly admit. The problem is that we are such a heteronormative society in Jersey, that if you aren’t openly gay you are assumed to be straight. And the prejudice that comes with being “other”, followed by the name calling and the shaming, makes it harder for us to stand up and speak out. Bisexuality is denied an existence and that needs to change. The first step is acknowledgement and acceptance, from yourself and by others.

I am a… New Series in the JEP

This column came about through a discussion with the editor regarding the opinions of some columnists in the Jersey Evening Post that many people from minority groups in the Island find extremely offensive.

Although it would be desirable to many in these groups for these columnists to recant their views, they have a right to hold and express them in a society that values freedom of speech. Respecting that right and agreeing with the opinion expressed are two different things, of course.

Whenever we offer a public opinion about a group of people to which we do not belong, we need to be aware of our own privilege in proffering that opinion. Are we part of a majority group in society, which enjoys and expects a certain birth right? Is the group to which we belong the group that makes the rules by which everyone else is expected to play? Are we speaking from a platform that someone from a minority group could not, or would find difficult to, attain? Do we really know what it feels like to be part of a minority who, because of an accident of birth, may face prejudice and discrimination on a daily basis?

Jersey is an extremely homogeneous place demographically. If you are non-British, BAME, LGBT+, registered as having a physical or mental disability, under 20 or over 60, a carer to someone other than a child, a problem drug user, or a member or ex-member of the prison population, there are less than 20% of people like you in Jersey and, in some cases, less than 5%.

So, how do those from a minority group in Jersey get the things they need, which may be very different from the things the majority need? They have to educate and persuade those who hold power (in its broadest sense) to grant it. That is the difference between being part of the privileged and being part of a group who do not enjoy such privileges.

This is the first of a series of columns that will provide a platform from which minority voices in Jersey may articulate what it is like to be part of their particular group, what issues concern them and what they would like to see changed about Jersey that would make it a more inclusive place for them to live and work.

In order to give contributors the confidence to voice their opinions, all contributors writing under this banner will be anonymous. The editor agreed to this exceptional promise because, without it, finding people from minorities willing to speak openly and publicly about their experiences is extremely difficult.

Channel Islands Pride 2019 announced

Channel Islands Pride returns to Jersey for its fifth anniversary with Pride on the Beach.

Channel Islands Pride 2019 will be held in St Helier, Jersey on 7 September 2019.

With the theme “Pride on the Beach”, for the first time ever the parade through town will finish at Les Jardins de La Mer, where Pride Village will be set up with live entertainment, food & drink and community stalls, all against the backdrop of St Aubin’s Bay and Elizabeth Castle.

The celebrations will also include a family friendly programme of activities on the beach. A schedule detailing the route and timings for the parade and the programme of entertainment will be announced closer to the time.

Channel Islands Pride is made possible thanks to the longstanding support of lead sponsor the Channel Islands Cooperative and sponsor Citibank.

Hugo Forrester from CI Pride said: “Pride on the Beach will highlight two aspects of island life of which we are rightly proud – our coastline and our heritage – but it will also celebrate what is the most important part of Island life: community.

“Pride on the Beach is about saying loudly and proudly that this is everyone’s Island and that the LGBTQ+ community is integral to Jersey’s story: past, present and future. We look forward to welcoming everyone to what promises to be a celebration of equality, diversity and community.”

Colin Macleod, chief executive officer for the Co-op, said: “We are proud to once again be supporters and sponsors of the Channel Islands Pride march. As a local retailer our vision is to make a real difference to the communities we serve, we see all people in our communities as equal, which is echoed throughout our Belonging is Everything message.

“We celebrate not only the diversity of our communities but what brings us together. Events such as Pride are incredibly important as it promotes awareness of the inequalities faced by the LGBTQ community and provides a safe haven for people to be who they really are.

“As friends of Liberate, we encourage you to join us this year to celebrate all we have achieved and what we can achieve together. We hope this year will be bigger and better than previous events to mark Pride’s fifth anniversary at the new location of Jardin de La Mer.”

Sarah Fitzgerald from Citibank said: “At Citi we believe an inclusive world unlocks the true potential in what we can achieve together. We’re dedicated to supporting the LGBT+ community around the world.”

For more information, please go to the Channel Islands Pride website or follow CI Pride on Facebook.