Can Jamaicans discuss same-sex marriage? Yes, if lawsuit prevails

Supporters of Montego Bay Pride have sued the mayor of Montego Bay for blocking a public forum on same-sex marriage. His action incited a wave of anti-gay hostility in the Jamaican city that forced Pride celebrations to be downsized and almost led to their cancellation.

Publicity for Montego Bay Pride
Publicity for Montego Bay Pride

Today Montego Bay Pride issued this press release:

Montego Bay Pride helped by Jamaicans for Justice in case against Mayor Davis and St. James Municipal Corporation

Montego Bay Pride is being helped by Jamaicans for Justice to bring a claim for judicial review of the decision by Montego Bay mayor Homer Davis and the St. James Municipal Corporation to ban Montego Bay Pride from using the Montego Bay Cultural Centre.

Logo of Jamaicans for Justice

September 29, 2019 — On Tuesday, September 24 Montego Bay Pride filed a case against mayor Homer Davis and the St. James Municipal Corporation for banning the group from using the Montego Bay Cultural Centre to host some of its events in October. The case was brought by Montego Bay Pride’s founder and Development Coordinator, Maurice Tomlinson on behalf of the unincorporated group. Tomlinson is being represented by lawyers from Jamaicans for Justice.

The mayor’s decision was reported in the Jamaica Gleaner on September 13, 2019 where the mayor alleged that banning Montego Bay Pride from the Cultural Centre was necessary to preserve the “sacredness” of the space.

In his application for judicial review Tomlinson states that by rescinding the permission given to Montego Bay Pride by the Cultural Centre the decision of the mayor and the Municipal Corporation was “discriminatory, unconstitutional and ultra vires.”

Tomlinson said that: “The decision by the mayor and the Municipal Corporation to ban us has been devastating and with far reaching implications. Citing this decision other venues that were to host our events cancelled and the police said that so much anti-gay sentiment has been whipped up in the city that it would be impossible to safely hold our Walk for Rights. I was even mobbed and attacked by vendors who support the mayor while I was outside the Cultural Centre. The mayor and the Municipal Corporation have effectively denied vulnerable LGBT Montegonians any safe place in this city, even though we are taxpaying members of the public and many of us are central to the country’s vital tourism industry. The decision has to be reversed.”

Rodje Malcolm, executive director of Jamaicans for Justice (Ricardo Makyn photo courtesy of Multi Media / NationwideRadioJM.com)

Executive Director of Jamaicans for Justice, Rodje Malcolm said that: “Attorneys from Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) have agreed to represent Mr. Tomlinson, on behalf of the members of Montego Bay Pride, in his application for Judicial Review. Information JFJ has received suggests that the decision to revoke access to a public meeting space was potentially unlawful and based principally on the personal views of one individual. However, in a free and democratic society, the personal views of public officials – regardless of the issue or group – are not what determines if people can access public spaces for peaceful and lawful discourse.”

Related articles about Montego Bay Pride 2019:

Related articles about Montego Bay Pride (2015-2018):

 

Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at info@76crimes.com.

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