Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Gay Walk for Tolerance
in Jamaica on April 7

The gay and HIV communities in Jamaica will take another step forward in their fight for peace and social justice next week, when they stage public display of political activism that is promoting tolerance and understanding. Given the brutality suffered by Jamaican gays in the past few years, including attacks on gays that left them bloody because of police hostility toward the gays, this is a big development.

The Walk for Tolerance is the gay Jamaican community's first organized act of protest in the streets to demand respect, and I'll be praying everything goes well for the organizers and participants. Let's all spread the word about the upcoming demonstration and lobby our American embassy in Kingston to use its leverage to ensure proper local law enforcement is in place to protect the marchers.

At the same time, I'll be contacting the Jamaican embassy in Washington and the country's mission to the United Nations in Manhattan, with a simple message. Jamaica must know that on April 7, the whole world will be watching the Walk for Tolerance, and human rights advocates everywhere expect Jamaica to guarantee the rights of gays to freely assembly, without fear or violence.

Here's the message about the walk from JFLAG:

I hereby request your participation in a ‘Walk for Tolerance’ planned to take place in Montego Bay Jamaica on April 7, 2010.

This critical event is being spearheaded by Jamaica Aids Support for Life (JASL) which is Jamaica’s oldest and largest Non-Governmental Organization working in the area of HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention and care. JASL serves a large clientele who are drawn from the most vulnerable communities in our society and who endure persistent and insidious acts of discrimination and stigmatization. It has been recognized that this level of stigma and discrimination severely hinders the national fight against HIV/AIDS. The promotion of tolerance at all levels in the society is therefore essential to minimize the negative impact of this disease among these populations and the Jamaican society as a whole.

In this regard, JASL proposes to hold a ‘Walk for Tolerance’ in Montego Bay which has the second highest rate of HIV/AIDS prevalence in Jamaica. The purpose of the walk is to raise awareness of the need for tolerance, educate and inform persons about these groups which are most at risk of HIV/AIDS transmission and what can be done to minimize the impact of the disease on them and the nation as a whole.

The ‘Walk’ has been planned for Wednesday, April 7, 2010 and will see its participants walking a mile along Howard Cooke Boulevard starting from Howard Cooke Park to the ‘Dump-up Beach’ using the largely underutilized paved sidewalk on the left. Participants will carry posters, banners, and other signage displaying messages of tolerance. There is also proposed to be a lunch hour presentation at 12 noon at Dump-up Beach where speeches and presentations will be made. Refreshments will be served and booths established to provide information on the work of JASL and other groups working with vulnerable communities in Jamaica.

It is expected that at least 100 persons will participate in the walk representing various local and international groups such as NGOs, churches, schools, government officials and the press. JASL has sought to partner with the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities (CVC) and the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) in carrying out this ‘Walk for Tolerance’ because of the intersections of the populations they serve.

Refreshment and transportation will be provided for participants. Please indicate your attendance and need for transportation to Timothy Aarons at 978-xxxx. We look forward to your participation as we seek to engender a stigma and discrimination free society.


Dane Lewis
Programmes Manager
Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays - J-FLAG

1 comment:

A.C. Jarvis said...

I like the attention the walk is getting but I’m having a problem with how it is being portrayed. The international media has this walk as gay pride, and so does the local media. Mind you it was a participant who used those words and it may have well felt like gay pride to him, we can’t dictate how one feels of an event.

I was a participant, I was happy to have been there happy to have been part of history, but I feel it has been twisted by local media to highlight the LGBT group that was there; and if it were that that was at the heart of it all, I would feel cheated and used. This is not to say that I would not have participated.