GAY SEX IS ILLEGAL IN JAMAICA BUT LGBTIs FOUND A WAY TO CALL A TRUCE WITH POLICE

These Jamaican LGBTIs found an amazing way to build bridges – by painting the local police station.

Gay sex is illegal in Jamaica. And the police station in question has a particularly painful history for one of the organizers of the painting party.

In 2010, Jamaican gay lawyer Maurice Tomlinson received an email death threat. The cowardly stranger threatened to kill him if he kept advocating for LGBTI human rights.

Tomlinson often got threats like this. But this time, the nature of it was more immediate and vulgar. So he had to take it seriously.

He visited Freeport Police Station, close to his home in Montego Bay, to report it to them.

The officer there told him that he hates gays are that they are sick.

All the same, the police promised to investigate. But weeks went past and they did nothing.

In the end, Tomlinson was in such danger that he had to flee Jamaica and seek asylum in Canada. There he became an internationally recognized champion of LGBTI rights on the island and around the world.

Montego Bay Pride gets the rollers out

Fast forward to this year, and Tomlinson is a global ambassador for Montego Bay Pride in Jamaica.

And the event found a new way of winning over hearts and minds.

Tomlinson tells GSN: ‘You can imagine my surprise when they suggested we paint that same police station as our social justice project.

‘The building hadn’t been painted for years and was looking like it needed it.

‘So I went to the police and asked if we could do it.

‘The commanding officer asked “Will it be people like you doing the painting?” and I said yes. But he said he was “very interested” and would let us know.

‘And, to my surprise, he said we could do it.’

So on 14 October, 12 Montego Bay Pride volunteers worked in punishing heat to give Freeport Police Station a facelift.

Initially, the police were a little reticent. But in the end, the volunteers appeared to be winning them over. Cops even agreed to pose for this amazing photo with the Montego Bay Pride banner.

There’s a long way to go.

The island’s politicians have promised change but have still not decriminalized homosexuality.

Meanwhile, LGBTI people face day-to-day discrimination and even active persecution. And police still take arbitrary action against community members.

But Tomlinson and the brave Montego Bay Pride volunteers have shown they will not sit back and be victims but will find new and innovative ways to create a better Jamaica.

They hope the next step will be for Freeport police to take up the LGBTI sensitivity training they have offered.

Gay Star News is proud to be the global LGBTI media partner of Montego Bay Pride, returning to Jamaica in October 2018.

SOURCE: GAY STAR NEWS

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