Jamaica holds its first gay pride celebrations in Kingston

Jamaica’s LGBT community is holding its first gay pride celebration in the island nation’s capital, a weeklong event that would once have been considered unfathomable due to Jamaica’s long history of rabid homophobia. The celebrations in Kingston thus far have included a flash mob, an art exhibit, and performances featuring songs and poems by lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Jamaicans. Jamaican gay activists hailed the peaceful events as evidence that tolerance is taking hold in the culture there, though stigma is still common and old laws criminalizing sodomy remain on the books. “What we are seeing these days,” says Latoya Nugent, a co-chair of the planning committee for the events, “is more and more LGBT people willing to be visible, to be open, and to be public. It’s remarkable.” Still, 80 incidents of discrimination, physical attacks, and sexual violence were reported to LGBT group J-FLAG last year, and the high-profile mob murder of transgender teen Dwayne Jones in 2013 remains unsolved. As recently as 2008, Jamaica’s prime minister Bruce Golding vowed to never allow gays in his cabinet. Human Rights Watch asserts LGBT people in Jamaica remain targets of violence and face discrimination seeking housing and employment, but acknowledges a “groundswell of change.” And one such swell is even coming from the government: Kingston’s mayor and Jamaica’s justice minister have publicly voiced their support for the events.

Read the full story at The Guardian.

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