Following up on their historic first ever organized public protest in Jamaica, J-FLAG (The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays) is determined to move ahead and host the first Pride event. J-FLAG is the foremost organisation in Jamaica advocating for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. The organization has revealed a week of activities to coincide with Jamaica’s Emancipation and Independence celebrations.
Ever since it was announced weeks ago that there will be a gay pride march on Emancipation Day (August 1), an openly anti-gay Jamaican public cautioned against it. A march like that in an urban centre could lead to bloodshed. It is well known that Jamaicans are not ready to tolerate a pride march.
Wisely, J-Flag has not included a parade in their schedule of events, which will all be taking place in capital city, Kingston. The choice of the dates is not by co-incidence. At this time of the year, Jamaica celebrates Emancipation Day. This is the day in which slavery was officially abolished. Five days later, on August 6, Jamaica celebrates Independence day, which is the date we lowered the Union Jack of Great Britain and raised our own Jamaican flag.
Now J-FLAG wants to raise its flag on Jamaica’s Emancipation and or Independence Day. Unfortunately for them, Jamaica is not ready to give LGBT people their independence.
The country’s Offences Against the Person Act deems sexual acts between men illegal and the Buggery Law makes it criminal for men to be caught having anal sex. In a 2014 poll conducted by the Gleaner, 91% of Jamaicans supported the law. In the same poll, 72% did not support equal rights for transgender people. On the other hand, Jamaica currently has no legislation to protect the LGBT community.
J-FLAG has a quite a task. It will some time before they can ever expect to hold their first pride parade.