Pic courtesy of InterPride.

“Imagine. Gay Pride in Jamaica:” The words of William Urich, the chair of the InterPride Committee on International GLBTI Human Rights, on the first public Pride event on the Caribbean island which was staged on Wednesday.

Officially, it was the ‘Walk for Tolerance’ from Howard Cooke Park, along Howard Cooke Boulevard and ending on the beach.

“Yesterday was an amazing day, here in Montego Bay,” he told UK Gay News. “My eyes well up at the very thought of the day’s outstanding and astounding success.”

Encouragingly, the walk had police support, Mr. Urich added.

Around 100 people took part in the walk, which was headed by Reverend Elder Nancy L. Wilson, the openly lesbian presiding bishop of the International Movement of Metropolitan Community Churches.

One participant commented: “I never thought I would live to see the day that this could happen in Jamaica.” And other ‘buzz phrases’ heard at the event included “I’m exercising my rights”, “I feel so liberated”, “I have validation”, and “exuberant.”

The Walk for Tolerance was organised by Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL), Jamaica’s oldest and largest Non-Governmental Organisation working in the area of HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention and care.

Jamaica has been described as the most homophobic place in the world by Time magazine. Gay sex is punishable by up to seven years in prison under a law which dates back to British colonial rule.

Human Rights Watch has documented extensive violence and abuse against LGBT people across Jamaica. This includes mob attacks in which gay men have been seriously wounded.

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