Jamaican LGBT advocates to host country's first Pride event

Jamaica is holding its very first Pride event, which is being held this coming week (August 1-8) to coincide with and Emancipation Day and Independence Day. The Jamaica Forum of Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) is hosting the events.

J-FLAG was founded in 1998, and explains its mission: “J-FLAG is committed to promoting social change, empowering the LGBT community, and building tolerance for and acceptance of LGBT people … 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."

The organization is promoting the Pride celebration on Facebook and on Instagram with a campaign featuring Jamaican LGBT people and allies. The images include hashtags like #PRiDEJA and #iSupport, and are also being used on Twitter to rally support for the event and for the community.


#iSupport #PRiDEJA2015

Posted by J-Flag on Tuesday, July 28, 2015

#weSupport #PRiDEJA2015

Posted by J-Flag on Friday, July 24, 2015

#iSupport #PRiDEJA

Posted by J-Flag on Thursday, July 23, 2015

#weSupport #PRiDEJA2015

Posted by J-Flag on Tuesday, July 21, 2015


However, some people in Jamaican are responding poorly to the photos:

Anti-gay comment on J-FLAG's Facebook page

Anti-gay comment on J-FLAG's Facebook page

In Jamaica, there is no legistlation to protect the rights of the LGBT community, and there are instances of violent prejudice. This spring, a gay man was stoned to death in Jamaica, and between 2009 and 2012 there were a documented 231 attacks against LGBT people. The Offences Against the Person Act also criminalizes relationships between men, punishing them with a long prison sentence – and it's supported by 91% of Jamaicans. A survey by The Human Rights Watch, called "Not Safe at Home," showed that the majority of LGBT Jamaicans fear for their safety because of their sexuality or gender identity. Because of these numbers, many are fearful that attending Pride could be dangerous.

However, J-FLAG is also doing work outside of Pride to accelerate acceptance of the LGBT community in Jamaica. They created a video campaign that tells the stories of Jamaican LGBT people and allies, called "We Are Jamaicans". The campaign is, "an effort to promote greater understanding and help change minds and hearts of Jamaicans about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people." That mission is similar to GLAAD's about amplifying voices of the LGBT community and its allies - ultimately, being heard fosters understanding and eventually acceptance. You can watch the first video from "We Are Jamaicans" below: