Fri | Dec 14, 2018

Letter of the Day | Jamaica is for all of us

Published:Friday | August 3, 2018 | 12:00 AM


On August 1, we celebrated Emancipation Day. This critical holiday reminds of a time when law reform changed the landscape of Jamaica. It was through the Emancipation Act of 1833 that the lives of enslaved Africans were legally and irrevocably changed. Fast forward, 285 years later and we witnessed an important step for Jamaica. The 2018 PrideJA Celebrations kick-started at the UWI Mona Campus in the form of the annual Sports Day. One taxi drive away was the Jamaica Emancipation Gathering in Half-Way Tree, held by the Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society (JCHS). The fact that these two events can coexist demonstrates what local LGBT activists have been saying all along, Jamaica is for all of us.

Let me start out by saying that I disagreed strongly with almost everything that I heard stated at the JCHS Gathering as far as it concerned LGBT rights and LGBT advocacy.

This year's theme for Pride is Centring LGBT People in Jamaica's Future. At the heart of this are discussions around what Jamaica should look to as it seeks to respect, tolerate and include LGBT Jamaicans; and nowhere in the conversation is the domination of the church or the religious. In fact, one of our newest Pride-related events was an evening of praise dubbed Out For Jesus, which aimed to bring religious LGBT persons and allies together to celebrate their faith.

As much as the JCHS tries to misrepresent the LGBT community and the movement, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. While they are praising undisturbed, we are priding undisturbed. While they misinform the public about what we want, we are sharing with the public the truth about what we want. We are coexisting and both the LGBT Movement and the Church agree that this coexistence should be a non-violent one.

Freedom of speech is alive and well and so is freedom of religion. Inequality and discrimination continues to be an issue for the LGBT and other marginalised communities and we hope that with the continued co-operation and partnership with our government, we can see this change for the betterment of all. Happy Pride and Happy Emancipendence Jamaica!

Glenroy Murray

Associate Director, Programmes & Advocacy, Equality for All Foundation Jamaica Ltd