Dane Lewis, Executive director of J-FLAG
Jamaica’s LGBT rights group, J-FLAG, has dismissed claims that it controversially intends to hold a Pride march.
According to The Gleaner, reports on social media suggested that the parade would be held in August.
Dane Lewis, J-FLAG’s Executive Director, has now denied the claims, telling the newspaper that “Jamaica is not ready for such an event.”
He did confirm, however, that the first official Jamaica Pride will be held next month, under the theme of “The Pride of our people: breaking the rules of oppression.”
Events will include an opening ceremony, a symposium, a cultural show, a flash mob, sporting activities, a trade show for LGBT businesses, and a party.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money for the Pride commemorations.
The island nation has a long-standing reputation as one of the world most homophobic countries, although in April 2010 around 100 people took part in a low key ‘Walk for Tolerance’ march in Montego Bay.
According to Section 76 of the Jamaican Offences Against the Person Act of 1864, a maximum sentence of 10 years can be issued for committing the crime of “buggery”.
The country has seen a number of horror mob attacks on LGBT people in recent years, including the murder of 17-year-old Dwayne Jones in 2013 and the stoning to death of a man said to be gay.
In a damning report last year, Human Rights Watch found that “LGBT people in Jamaica face intolerable levels of violence” and are taunted, threatened, fired from their jobs, thrown out of their homes, beaten, stoned, raped, or killed.
In 2011, before she took office, Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller said that she opposed discrimination against LGBT people and indicated a willingness to review the country’s criminalisation of homosexuality, but has since taken no action.