- August 24, 2016
HRC Global was honored to partner with this year’s successful Pride JA in Jamaica, a week of LGBTQ Pride events from August 1-7, 2016. The Pride events were a successful outcome of the tremendous efforts of J-FLAG, the foremost human rights and social justice advocacy organization for LGBTQ people in Jamaica.
Dane Lewis, Executive Director of J-FLAG, stated, “PRIDE JA is a local product. Conceptualized, owned and driven by young activists who know why it is necessary to celebrate who we are.”
HRC applauds the successful efforts of activists in Jamaica. LGBTQ people and supporters gathered for inclusive sporting events, live entertainment, a symposium, a family picnic and a black tie gala.
In March, Jaevion Nelson, Director of Projects and Strategy at J-FLAG, attended HRC’s inaugural Global Innovative Advocacy Summit. Jaevion reflected on this year’s Pride Ja activities in an article in The Jamaica Gleaner, “#PRiDEJA is a whole lot about breaking the rules of oppression which demand that you be silent and invisible. It's about giving people hope, creating safe spaces, and validating and letting people feel belonged. #PRiDEJA is about making Jamaica more hospitable for all of us so we can live, work, raise families and do business.”
The organizers managed to pull off the second annual Pride events without violence or harassment in a country which only 10 years ago was deemed the most homophobic place on earth by TIME magazine. Jamaica’s Offences Against the Person Act of 1864 criminalizes all forms of intimacy between men, even in private. Though the law is rarely enforced, its existence perpetuates the stigma and marginalization of LGBTQ people. Jamaica is one of 72 countries around the world that criminalize consensual same-sex relations.
Despite the uphill battle to secure the rights of LGBTQ people in Jamaica, J-FLAG and LGBTQ people and supporters reinforced their rights to visibility and assembly through the events of Pride JA. This year’s efforts at community building and public education are essential to strengthening the movement for LGBTQ rights in Jamaica.
Learn more about HRC's work to strengthen the global LGBTQ equality movement through public education, advocacy, fellowships, partnerships and research by visiting www.hrc.org/global.