Happy independence day and Happy Pride, Jamaica! Many in Jamaica see it this way: This is a fight for freedom, respect, and justice. This is a continuation of all progressive Jamaican. This is a fight for Jamaica and all her inhabitants. Though it’s illegal to be gay in Jamaica, some in the LGBTI community there celebrated Pride regardless.
Sexual acts between men are prohibited by law and punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Many reggae dancehall lyrics by big-name stars could be classified as antigay hate speech. Gay-bashing incidents are almost never prosecuted, with law enforcement, in most cases, looking the other way.
Nonetheless, LGBT travelers shouldn’t be put off from visiting the island. In the more heavily touristed areas, you’ll find more tolerant attitudes and hotels that welcome gay travelers, including all-inclusives. Publicly, though, discretion is important and open displays of affection should be avoided.
Jamaica is a paradise for travel and tourism. Jamaica with the Hon. Ed Bartlett has one of the most pro-active and forward looking as well as outspoken minister of tourism in the world.
With tourism comes a special responsibility to all. It comes with safety expectation, human rights, and openness. It’s time for Jamaica to recognize it cannot be a crime to be gay.
This week was Jamaica’s third annual Pride week. The Pride festivities happening on 6 August coincide with Jamaican Independence Day.
Former US president Obama when he visited Jamaica during his administration told young leaders of the Americas in Kingston, Jamaica:
“You’re more eager for progress that comes not by holding down any segment of society, but by holding up the rights of every human being, regardless of what we look like, or how we pray, or who we love. You care less about the world as it has been, and more about the world as it should be and can be.”
Jamaica’s newspaper “The Gleaner” asked yesterday: It’s uncanny how many Jamaicans are supposedly offended or concerned about the local lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community’s decision to celebrate Pride during the Emancipation and Independence period, which is being observed from August 1-7 this year.Pride in Jamaica is about possibilities.
The paper comes to a conclusion that pride gives hope, visibility, courage, and community. It’s about creating and maintaining safe spaces for LGBTQ people and allies to come together as a community. It’s about a movement that is courageously working to ensure that LGBTQ Jamaicans are included fully and celebrated in the Emancipation and Independence Project that is Jamaica. Pride helps to ensure that we can all thrive as Jamaicans belonging to vulnerable and marginalized groups.