Turnout at LGBT march surprises organisers

October 18, 2018
Participants in the march walk the streets of Montego Bay.
Contributed Participants in the gay pride march walk the streets of Montego Bay two weeks ago.

Fifty members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride group in Montego Bay, St James were targeted for their first march to end Pride Week celebrations,

But to the pleasure of the organiser Maurice Tomlinson, more than 100 persons came out for the march.

Tomlinson told THE STAR that the march, which took place on Sunday, was called 'Walk for Rights'.

"People often think that we are afraid of the homophobia and not willing to confront it publicly and this (the march) shows to me that there is at least a significant number who are willing to stand up and claim their rights," he said.

While not sure whether the LBGT community is growing, he said that it is becoming more visible, which he believes is very important in the liberation movement.

"People fear what they don't know and the more people see LBGT people, the more they will realise that they know someone who is gay," he said.

Tomlinson said even though there was fear among the LGBT group before the march, when they saw the number of supporters they felt safer.

He said that their fear was further quelled by the presence of policemen who safeguarded their route.

"A lot of persons who came on the march were sceptical because they have not done something like this before and Montego Bay is under State of Emergency and there is this reputation that it is a very violent city. But when we saw the many of us that were there, we felt safer in numbers," he said.

Head of the Corporate Communications Unit of the Jamaica Constabulary Force, Assistant Superintendent of Police Dahlia Garrick, told THE STAR that the march was incident free.

Tomlinson believes LGBT acceptance can be achieved through marches. He plans to have more marches because according to him, the more people see them, the more they will realise that they (members of the LGBT community) are normal people living in society.

"It is proven through research conducted by Dr Keon West that the more people see LGBT people in society, the more awareness there is and awareness leads to greater respect for human rights of the LGBT community," he said.

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