Wed | Oct 23, 2019

MoBay Pride sues Mayor Davis, municipal corporation

Published:Sunday | September 29, 2019 | 12:34 AMJanet Silvera - Senior Gleaner Writer
Mayor of Montego Bay Homer Davis
Mayor of Montego Bay Homer Davis

WESTERN BUREAU:

Banned from using the Montego Bay Cultural Centre for some of their Montego Bay Pride events, the LGBT group has filed a judicial review against Montego Bay Mayor Homer Davis and the St James Municipal Corporation.

The case was filed on Tuesday, September 24 in the Supreme Court by founder and development coordinator, Maurice Tomlinson, who is also an attorney-at-law.

Lawyers from Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) are representing the gay rights group.

The mayor, in a Gleaner article on September 13, reportedly refused to grant permission for the group to use the facility, stating that it was necessary to preserve the “sacredness” of the space.

In his application for judicial review, Tomlinson stated that by rescinding the permission given to Montego Bay Pride by the Cultural Centre, the decision of the mayor and the municipal corporation was “discriminatory, unconstitutional and ultra vires”.

The group has hosted LGBT meetings in the centre over the last four years.

Tomlinson added that: “The decision by the mayor and the municipal corporation to ban us has been devastating, with far-reaching implications. Citing this decision, other venues that were to host our events cancelled and the police said that so much anti-gay sentiment has been whipped up in the city that it would be impossible to safely hold our Walk for Rights.”

MOBBED AND ATTACKED

Tomlinson said he was mobbed and attacked by vendors who support the mayor while he stood outside the Cultural Centre two Thursdays ago.

“The mayor and the municipal corporation have effectively denied vulnerable LGBT Montegonians any safe place in this city, even though we are taxpaying members of the public and many of us are central to the country’s vital tourism industry. The decision has to be reversed,” he argued.

Meanwhile, the JFJ said information they have received suggests that the decision to revoke access to a public meeting space was potentially unlawful and based principally on the personal views of one individual.

“In a free and democratic society, the personal views of public officials – regardless of the issue or group – are not what determine if people can access public spaces for peaceful and lawful discourse,” said JFJ.

When contacted by The Sunday Gleaner, Mayor Davis said he was not aware of any claim being filed, and at the appropriate time the matter would be addressed.

janet.silvera@gleanerjm.com