Maurice Tomlinson is no stranger to the struggle for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) rights in Africa. The Jamaican born activist was the first Grand Marshal of Pride Uganda in 2012 and also the first recipient of the David Kato Award the same year.
Maurice who is also an HIV activist and law lecturer is one of the only Jamaican LGBTI human rights advocates that have publicly challenged the country’s 1864 British colonially imposed anti-gay Sodomy Law (known as the Buggery Law) that predominantly affects men who have sex with men (MSM) and carries a jail sentence of up to ten years imprisonment with hard labour.
Born on 9 April 1971 in Montego Bay, Maurice has made the brave decision to take Pride to his home area and is now asking for our help to make this a reality.
WHY MONTEGO BAY PRIDE?
The historic Jamaica Pride that took place in Kingston from August 1-5 was an unqualified success. With public endorsements from the mayor of Kingston and the Minister of Justice, it is clear that the forward march for the full liberation of Jamaican LGBTI people is unstoppable.
However, some persons from Montego Bay and western Jamaica were not able to participate in Pride Jamaica because of financial and other constraints. Many members of Jamaica’s LGBTI community are still only able to get entry-level positions because of SOGI stigma and discrimination. Therefore, they had limited time off and resources to travel to and stay in Kingston.
A team of dedicated and motivated Jamaicans at home and in the diaspora are therefore organizing the first-ever Montego Bay Pride on Oct. 25. The group is led by internationally recognized LGBTI activist, Maurice Tomlinosn, who also hails for Montego Bay and resides in Canada.
The theme for Mo. Bay Pride will be “Here to STAY in the Bay!” This seeks to emphasize the facts that LGBTI Montegonians have as much right as anyone else to exist in their society, and that these Pride celebrations will be ongoing. A 2009 Walk for Tolerance in Montego Bay was undoubtedly the most ambitious public event of its kind ever undertaken in Jamaica. But, regrettably, there was no coordinated plan to ensure its ongoing viability. Until now. The organizers of Mo. Bay Pride are committed to ensuring that this event happens annually to complement the mission of Jamaica Pride – Breaking the Rules of Oppression. The organizers of Mo. Bay Pride believe that on an island that is claimed to have the most churches per square mile, many of which spout anti-gay rhetoric, there is a need for multiple joyous Pride celebrations to counter homophobic bigotry.
The program for Mo. Bay Pride will be condensed, and will consist of both private and public events. Below is the schedule:
- Flag Raising (Private)
- Flash Stand for Equality with masks for attendees, if required (Public)
- Discussion on Homosexuality and the Bible (Private)
- Pool “lyme” and games (Private)
- Screening and discussion of “The Abominable Crime” Film under the theme “Hey Mo. Bay, have ANOTHER say! Is Jamaica Anti-Gay?” (Public)
- Poolside talent & fashion show (Private)
The private events will take place at a secure villa and the address will only be made known to verified attendees. In addition, there will be private security on site and guests will be supplied with masks to preserve their anonymity, if they wish.
Security will also be on hand at the public events, and the cooperation of the police will be sought to provide additional support.
Private tour buses to shuttle Pride participants between events will also be on hand.
For logistical and security reasons, persons must register for Mo. Bay Pride by September 20.