October 20, 2019: Gays and Lesbians March – On Sunday, October 20, Montego Bay Pride held its second LGBT Walk for Rights as part of its annual Pride celebrations. This year the Walk included representatives from the US, Canadian and EU diplomatic missions as well some tour operators that cater to the LGBT travel market who had been invited to Jamaica on a familiarization trip organized by the Jamaica Tourist Board.
About 50 persons walked from Sunset to Dead End beaches under heavy police protection.
The atmosphere was joyous and attracted much curiosity from onlookers who were using the two popular bathing beaches.
Coordinator of Montego Bay Pride, Sharlene Kessna-Duncan stated that the Pride committee was pleased with the level of professionalism of the police and gave special commendation to Superintendent Vernon Ellis. “Superintendent Ellis supplied helpful advice after the mayor’s decision to ban us from the Montego Bay Cultural Centre whipped up significant homophobia in the city and threatened our entire Pride events. Thanks to his constant reassurances that under his watch the police would respect and protect the human rights of all residents of Montego Bay, we were confident enough to proceed with our plans for the Walk despite initial concerns. Thankfully, none of our fears materialized and the Walk went off without a hitch!”
Maurice Tomlinson, founder of Montego Bay Pride and the person who sued the mayor for banning the group from the Centre, also expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the Walk. “For me, the best sign of success of our Walk was the number of smiles on the faces of both participants and onlookers. And there were smiles aplenty, especially from the guests in the hotels along the Walk route. Even the few detractors were drowned out by happy Pridegoers. It was exhilarating to see LGBT Jamaicans walking with police protection along one of the most popular routes in Montego Bay. It gave us a true sense of belonging.”
Montego Bay Pride is already planning for its next annual festival and will be reapplying to use the Cultural Centre to host some of its week-long events.”