Liberate

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.

Liberate ask Channel Islanders to assist in HIV research project

This World AIDS Day (1 December) Liberate is asking Channel Islanders to assist in a research project that will 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/AIDS.

Click here to take the survey:

Survey of HIV/AIDS across the Channel Islands

Questionário Ilhas do Canal acerca de VIH/SIDA

Ankieta na temat HIV/AIDS na Wyspach Normandzkich

Last year, Liberate were the recipients of an unexpected donation. The donation came with the restriction that it was to be used to support the fight against HIV/AIDS by providing support to those living with HIV and/or their families; support for medical research regarding care of those with HIV, treatment and/or prevention of HIV; and, promotion or education around safe sexual health.

To find out what is being done in the UK by charities working in this area Liberate have already visited the Terence Higgins Trust, the UK’s leading HIV and sexual health charity; the National AIDS Trust, who champion the rights of people living with HIV and campaign for change; and, StopAIDS, the network of UK agencies working to secure an effective global response to HIV and AIDS.

As a result of the meetings, Liberate have secured offers of support from Terence Higgins Trust and National AIDS Trust for any work it does in the Islands. Liberate have also supported the ENDAIDS2030 Festival organised by StopAIDS that marks 30 years of World AIDS Day and raises awareness of the commitment to end AIDS globally by 2030.

Vic Tanner Davy, CEO Liberate, said: “This is a new remit for Liberate, so it is imperative that we get the right focus for our support work in the Islands. We know what work we might undertake as a result of our discussions with the UK charities. We now need to research what the picture looks like across the Bailiwicks, so we can then decide what strand of work will have the most impact.”

Liberate are asking Islanders to complete an online survey. You do not need to be living with HIV or know someone who is, Liberate are interested in hearing your view and experience of HIV whatever your personal situation. The survey can be accessed from the links below.

Vic Tanner Davy, again: “All individual responses to the survey are completely anonymous and confidential, so we hope that those who are living with HIV in the Islands will engage with us by completing the survey. If anyone would like to get more involved in the work, then we would love to hear from them and they can email me in confidence for an initial discussion – vic@liberate.je

Click here to take the survey:

Survey of HIV/AIDS across the Channel Islands

Questionário Ilhas do Canal acerca de VIH/SIDA

Ankieta na temat HIV/AIDS na Wyspach Normandzkich

Media reports:

BBC Radio Jersey (30 November 2018) (Timecode: 02:39:54)

Jersey Evening Post (1 December 2018)

ITV Channel (1 December 2018)

Blood ban still in force

Jersey’s blood donation service is open again after it was shut in January due to not meeting national and EU standards. Despite the unit announcing that ”anyone between the ages of 17 and 65, who is fit and well” can donate at the new centre, it is still the case that men who have had sex with men (MSM) in the last 12 months cannot donate. In the UK, the time limit was dropped to 3 months in November 2017.

The obvious question is why Jersey is not following the UK where medical research shows that 3 months is sufficient time to know whether someone is HIV positive. The less obvious question is why there is still a ban on this particular group at all?

In the UK the social groups that show that highest instances of HIV infection are MSM, men and women from the black African community, those who inject drugs using shared needles or syringes, and members of the transgender community engaged in sex work. So, why are just MSM targeted with the ban? It makes no sense.

What makes more sense is to screen blood donors better to establish whether their lifestyle and sexual habits make them at risk of being HIV positive and therefore unable to donate blood at that time. Anyone in a monogamous relationship (who is not diagnosed as HIV positive and not engaging in high risk behaviours, such as injecting drugs) should be eligible to donate blood, irrespective of their sexual orientation, race or gender identity.

The removal of this imprecise ban is still being fought for by charities in the UK since the lifetime ban on MSM donating blood was imposed in 1980. It’s about time individual risk assessment was introduced for all blood donors and the discrimination against one particular social group was stopped.

More on the story: https://www.channel103.com/news/jersey-news/blood-donor-service-back-open/

Channel Islands’ Disability Survey

In advance of the UN’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Island Global Research is conducting a survey on issues related to disability. This is an important piece of research that aims to provide a picture of the lives of people with disabilities and/or those closest to them. The survey is now available to complete online.

Persons with disabilities include those who have long-term physical, mental, intellectual or sensory impairments which, in interaction with various barriers, may hinder their full participation in society on an equal basis with others.

Island Global Research would like to hear from as many people as possible. There are some general questions for everyone to answer, as well as some specific questions for people who have a disability, or people who have a family member or close friend in the Channel Islands who has a disability.

The survey can be completed by anyone aged 16 or over, and should take around 10 minutes to complete. The survey will run until the 26 November 2018.

Those who wish to participate can access the survey using the link below:
https://survey.islandglobalresearch.com/s3/Disability-Survey-2018

Respondents who are willing to complete the questionnaire do so anonymously. They do not need to give their name, date of birth or any other information that would identify them. They are also able to skip questions that they do not want to answer. All answers given are treated with the utmost confidentiality. If there are any special assistance requirements for respondents to complete the survey please contact Lilyanne Guille at Island Global Research:
Email – lguille@islandglobalresearch.com
Phone – 01481 716227

Pride 2018

On 8 September 2018, Channel Islands Pride was held in Guernsey for the second time and, on 9 September 2018, Alderney held its first ever Pride.

Unlike 2016, when Guernsey held a very wet first Pride, the sun was shining as participants gathered in Candie Gardens at 2pm for a pre-parade picnic on the grass. At 4pm, the parade started with the 50 metre rainbow street flag being rolled out over the heads of the parade into Ann Place.

The parade moved down the narrow lanes of St Peter Port, keeping everyone tighly packed and within touch of the front of the parade, led by Samba Burros, Guernsey’s  community Samba band. Down Smith Street and onto the High Street. At the end of the High Street was the Town Church, which had a surprise ready for parade participants – a huge rainbow balloon arch that had been put up that morning by the Church’s clergy as a show of solidarity and support for the island’s LGBT+ community.

The parade ended in Market Square where the Pride stage was hosted by Liberate’s Olly, Tigger and Magenta, with speeches by Ellie Jones (Liberate) and Kenny McDonald (The Channel Islands Co-Operative Society), and music from The Recks, The Cuban Brothers, The London Gay Big Band and Kalon Rae.

There was an amazing family area outside HMV hosting The Princess Project, balloon twister Gareth Le Page, Living Creations cactus workshop, portrait artist Ryan de Haaff, and art activities from Emma Domaille.

The following day, Alderney hosted possibly 2018’s smallest Pride, but that didn’t make it any less moving for the participants, some of whom were experiencing their first ever Pride – and certainly their first ever Pride in their home island. We predict that it will only get bigger as ‘Pride collectors’ add Alderney to their must-see lists!

#strongertogether

Some photos from Guernsey Pride:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This is a short video from Alderney Pride:

1 July 2018

The final orders have been passed by the States of Jersey today that mean that from 1 July 2018 Jersey’s new marriage law is in effect.

Broadly, this means that –

  • same sex couples can get married;
  • transgender people can get married as their recognised gender without the need for a Gender Recognition Certificate (there is no ‘spousal veto’ in Jersey’s law);
  • all couples may choose the location of their marriage and ask to have it approved, meaning couples may marry in their home or garden, on a beach or headland, or almost anywhere that has significance for them; and,
  • recognised religious organisations have to opt-in to perform marriages (and associated services) for LGBT+ couples (meaning that clergy are not placed in the position of having to marry LGBT+ couples where their religious beliefs and/or religious organisation forbid it).

There are very few religious organisations that have opted-in so far. For same sex couples or couples where one partner is transgender and who would like a Christian service/blessing for their marriage, we advise speaking to the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), the United Reformed Church or the Methodist Church (although Methodist ministers cannot marry LGBT+ people in Methodist churches, many are prepared to do a blessing for the marriage away from church premises).

Alternatively, if you are looking for a marriage service without religious content, that can be spiritual and tailored to you, the Channel Islands Humanists would be happy to hear from LGBT+ couples.

There is still work to do to address amendments to the law that were not covered in the first wave of drafting around certain Church of England property anomalies, surrogacy, civil partnerships and adultery/divorce. Liberate will be keeping an eye on these issues over the coming months.

We will also be supportive of any moves by religious organisations to opt-in to performing LGBT+ marriages. We hope that those LGBT+ activists working inside religious organisations will see their allies grow, and soon their particular religious organisation will opt-in to performing what is, in essence, a celebration of the love and commitment by one person to another for the rest of their life.

It has been four years of campaining, consulting, educating, debating and legislating, some false starts and some delays, but you can now get out your hats and enjoy a 2018 summer marriage season in Jersey that is now, truly, open to all!

First charities to be awarded a DIFERA+ grant announced

Liberate is pleased to announce the first charities to take advantage of the DIFERA+ Pay It Forward Grant Scheme are Beresford Street Kitchen and Citizens Advice.

The ‘DIFERA+ Pay It Forward’ grant scheme was suggested by Standard Bank, one of the first DIFERA accredited organisations in the Channel Islands. The scheme enables DIFERA accredited companies to ‘pay it forward’ by sponsoring a charity to participate in the scheme. The initiative was launched at Liberate’s CI Equality and Diversity Awards in March this year and charities were invited to submit an application.

The grant scheme received eight excellent applications from a variety of charities working with a range of clients, some with fewer than 25 members of staff and some with close to 100. The judging panel, consisting of representatives from Liberate and Standard Bank, had a tough job selecting the two charities that were chosen to receive the grant.

The chosen charities were Beresford Street Kitchen and Citizens Advice. While Beresford Street Kitchen is a relatively new charity that provides quality training and employment for people with learning disabilities and autism through their Beresford Street cafe, Citizens Advice is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. They offer free, independent, confidential and impartial advice to all islanders facing problems. The two charities couldn’t be more different and yet they share a desire to be inclusive and to treat everyone with respect.

Tina Monro, Head of Human Capital, Standard Bank Wealth International which connects Africa to international markets, said: “Standard Bank is delighted to be supporting Beresford Street Kitchen and Citizens Advice to participate in the DIFERA accreditation scheme. The applications from both charities demonstrated the work that they are already undertaking in the six DIFERA areas and also an enthusiasm to go through the DIFERA process and gain the accreditation. We are delighted to be making this announcement on Africa Day”.

Vic Tanner Davy, CEO Liberate, said: “We are looking forward to working with Beresford Street Kitchen and Citizens Advice to share our view of the value in diversity and the importance of creating an accepting workplace with two organisations who are already well on the way to delivering those inclusive spaces where people can thrive and be their best.”

To find out more about the DIFERA scheme, please go to: https://liberate.je/difera/