LGBT envoy heads to Jamaica amid plans for Pride

The Dallas Voice reports:

Randy Berry, the U.S. state department's special envoy for LGBT rights. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of State)
Randy Berry, the U.S. state department’s special envoy for LGBT rights. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of State)

Randy Berry, special envoy for the human rights of LGBT persons, and USAID Senior LGBT Coordinator Todd Larson leave for Jamaica tomorrow (Thursday, May 21), to discuss the rights of LGBT people and other marginalized groups with Jamaican leaders, according to a press release from the U.S. Department of State.

Berry and Larson will spend three days in Jamaica meeting with representatives from the Jamaican government as well as religious, business, academic and civil society organization leaders.

Homosexuality remains criminalized in Jamaica, and the Caribbean Island is well-known for homophobia and violence against LGBT people. Human Rights Watch released a report last October documenting 56 cases of violence against LGBT people.

BuzzFeed reported that Berry also plans to visit Latin American and Europe, then travel to Uganda in July.

Berry’s visit to Jamaica comes shortly after the LGBTI rights group J-FLAG launched a fund-raising campaign for a Pride celebration in Jamaica in August.

J-FLAG (the Jamaica Forum of Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays) announced:

Promotional photo for Jamaica Pride 2015 (Photo courtesy of J-FLAG)
Promotional photo for Jamaica Pride 2015 (Photo courtesy of J-FLAG)

J-FLAG will be hosting #PRiDEJA2015 in August under the theme: The Pride of a People: Breaking the Rules of Oppression.

The main events for #PRiDEJA2015 will be an opening ceremony, flash mob, a symposium, sporting activities, a trade show, a cultural entertainment performance show, and a party.

Our target guaranteed number is 1,000 persons.

We need your help to make #PRiDEJA2015 possible.

Support us. Help us celebrate. We would really appreciate any support you can give to help us stage our first PRiDE celebration and make it a huge success.

The August event would be the first Pride sponsored by J-FLAG. In 2010, a small Pride event for about 20 people was also reported in Jamaica. At that time, the South Florida Gay News reported:

An estimated 20 to 25 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Jamaican citizens took to the streets around Emancipation Park for the first time, wearing rainbow-colored feather boas and t-shirts from various pride events in the United States.

The LGBT Jamaicans kissed in public, struck poses, danced and made their orientations obvious to onlookers. The parade lasted for about 2 and a half hours before the participants needed to disperse for safety and re-organize in another location.

While the pride parade was meager by our standards here in the United States, it was truly spectacular for a nation where such actions can get a person killed on the spot. There were no signs, no corporate sponsors, no floats or even a balloon

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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