Moment of truth for Jamaica: 25,000 rally in support of anti-gay law

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Jamaican LGBT rights lawyer Maurice Tomlinson says last weekend’s rally in support of Jamaica’s buggery law was a “very frightening” moment.

Mr Tomlinson, a legal advisor of marginalised groups at AIDS-Free World, referred to Sunday’s event by saying: “They really poured a lot of money into this, which to me is of great concern”.

Participants and church leaders called on Jamaicans to stand up for “strong and healthy families” and “to resist the homosexual agenda”.

The Jamaican Observer reports that police say an estimated 25,000 people took to the streets of Kingston for the protest organised by Churches Action Uniting Society for Emancipation (CAUSE).

“That’s a significant number of people to come to a rally, considering the population and yet we are already under siege,” BuzzFeed reports Mr Tomlinson said. “This is the signal that we dare not pop our heads up. People I know are trying to lay low and avoid repercussions.”

The Jamaican criminal code prohibits sex between men and sentences for buggery can include 10 years imprisonment with hard labour.

As part of her election campaign in 2011 Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller vowed to review the buggery law – she has so far failed to do so.

However, in recent months repeal of the buggery law has steadily crept up the political agenda, with the government hinting at consultation.

Former Prime Minister PJ Patterson called for greater acceptance of gay Jamaicans in May.

His words came shortly after The Gleaner, a leading Jamaican newspaper, published an editorial questioning the country’s ban on homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

Minister of State for Science and Technology Julian Robinson then called on the government to help a group of homeless gay and trans people who are forced to live in a storm gully.

Labour MP Diane Abbott, Chair of the UK’s All Party Parliamentary Group on Jamaica, told PinkNews last month that recent political developments were encouraging.

But she added that social conservative Christians would firmly resist any attempt to abolish anti-gay legislation.

Maurice Tomlinson conducted an interview with PinkNews about the situation in Jamaica last month.