Despite anti-gay fears, Jamaica announces first Pride
Although the country is internationally known for its persecution of the LGBT community, Jamaica will celebrate its first Pride event next week.
Hosted by the Jamaica Forum of Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays, the celebration will take place at the same time as the national week to commemorate Emancipation Day and Independence Day.
Promoting its Kingston-centred event through its Facebook page, J-FLAG will begin with a flash mob and opening ceremony, which its members are already preparing for.
While a parade will not be held, J-FLAG promises that its largest event will be #PRISM- “the PRiDE Party Edition”.
In Jamaica, the LGBT community exists amongst violent prejudice, with a gay man stoned to death in March.
The country’s Offences Against the Person Act deems sexual acts between men illegal and can result in lengthy prison sentences.
Last year, 91 percent of Jamaicans surveyed by the Jamaica Gleaner supported the law.
The same poll found that 72 percent believed that transgender citizens should not be treated equally.
The Human Rights Watch published a report, “Not Safe at Home,” that stated that most LGBT Jamaicans “live in fear”.
Jamaica does not currently have any legislation to protect the rights of the LGBT community.
J-FLAG documented 231 attacks towards the LGBT community between 2009 and 2012.
Its current Facebook campaign features posts of the local LGBT community and allies, with hashtags like #iSupport and #PRiDEJA.
Founded in 1998, the organization describes itself on Facebook: “J-FLAG holds the vision to move forward in a spirit of oneness, love, dignity and respect towards the establishment of a Jamaica, and world, devoid of prejudice, injustice, discrimination and oppression.
“And, furthermore, to ensure the human rights of Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays, as set out in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”
However, even on social media, some Jamaicans are not responding well to the photos.
According to the Oxford African American Studies Center, the country is predominantly Protestant.
Many have expressed concerns about the safety of Pride-goers, due to the widespread homophobia.
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