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Montego Bay Pride challenges Jamaica’s anti-LGBTIs: ‘We’re members of your society’

Montego Bay Pride challenges Jamaica’s anti-LGBTIs: ‘We’re members of your society’

Marchers at Montego Bay Pride in 2016.

Montego Bay on Jamaica north’s coast is celebrating its fifth Pride.

The capital of Saint James Parish and a popular cruise ship port, the city will host its own LGBTI festival on 8-14 October.

The celebrations are meant to be a counterpart to those in Kingston, on the eastern side of the island.

‘Many persons on the western side couldn’t get across to enjoy and participate in the activities there, so that’s why we started Montego Bay Pride,’ Maurice Tomlinson told jamaica-star.com.

Tomlinson founded Montego Bay Pride in 2014. He is a lawyer, an LGBTI rights advocate and HIV activist in the Caribbean.

The events of Montego Bay Pride

Montego Bay Pride will kick off with a launch party at the Round Hill Hotel on October 8. Other events also include panels and a free movie festival, screening LGBTI movies such as Indian film Evening Shadows.

The protest will take to the streets on Sunday 14 October. Departing at 10:30am from Hotel Gloriana, the walking groups will reach the airport roundabout.

‘We put a lot of stock on visibility, we make sure that people know that we are here. We do pop up protests by driving into town and jumping out with rainbow flags and placards so that people know we are here,’  Tomlinson said.

‘They only hear one side of the story’

He furthermore added: ‘The challenge in any society with accepting or understanding LGBT people is that they only hear one side of the story. That’s what is preached by the churches that we are all pedophiles and all these ridiculous things.’

Tomlinson said LGBTIs who experience loneliness and depression need to know that there is a support system in Montego Bay.

‘They are not alone. In fact, there is a community there to support them in case anybody is in crisis. As you would have seen, we’ve had some unfortunate instances of abuse, so we want them to know that there are people to rely on.’

Jamaica has been deemed one of the most anti-LGBTI countries in the world due to the high rate of hate crimes. Moreover, Gay sex is illegal and men face life imprisonment or hard labor for that.

Watch a video of 2017 Montego Bay Pride below:

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