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UK Black Community Shines Spotlight on Justice for Jamaican LGBTQ Community

UK Black Pride was proud to join UK Lesbian Gay Immigration Group (UKLGIG) to stand in solidarity with Jamaican LGBTQ people who are fighting for their right to dignity and justice by co.hosting an event on Friday 13 June.

Almost 50 participants attended a special screening of the Channel 4 documentary ‘Unreported World: Jamaica’s Underground Gays’ at the offices of Wilson Solicitors LLP in London. The documentary sees Team GB Paralympian, Ade Adepitan, interviews Sachaberry and Krissy who movingly expose, in sometimes disturbingly graphic detail, the systemic extent of violence and homophobia against LGBT people in Kingston, Jamaica, as they try to live their lives.

Whilst homosexuality is not illegal, Jamaica’s anti-sodomy laws prohibit acts of gross indecency(interpreted as any physical intimacy between men in public or private). Such acts can be punished by 10 years of hard labour in prison and violence against the LGBTQ community is rife.

The UK Black Pride and UKLGIG screening was followed by a panel discussion and fundraising reception with lesbian and gay rights activists and legal professionals

PJ Samuels spoke about the negative role of some popular culture, including dancehall music, artists who promote “murder music” that advocates homophobic prejudice. Samuels also noted the omission of any reference to lesbians in the documentary but made clear that this invisibility did not mean Jamaican lesbian and bisexual women do not suffer.

Vernal Scott, a gay Christian, described his efforts to coordinate a meeting with the Jamaican High Commission in London and gave personal testimony about his experience of growing up with his conservative Christian mother, who was shown in the Unreported World documentary as a church attendee with a megaphone. Scott underlined the key role that conservative interpretation of religions has played to propagate homophobia.

James Stuart of Wilson Solicitors LLP described Britain’s asylum system and stressed the need to raise awareness and funds to help LGBTQ asylum seekers while audience members called on UK Black Pride to raise the issue of Jamaican LGBTQ rights with the Jamaica High Commission and to maintain engagement with Stonewall to lobby the British government for fairer asylum rights for LGBTQ people.

Closing the meeting, UK Black Pride’s Phyll Opoku-Gyimah confirmed that it would make a donation to Dwayne’s House, which gives care and support for homeless LGBT youth in Jamaica and committed to its lobbying by asking people to sign a petition calling on Portia Simpson-Miller, the Prime Minister of Jamaica, to provide safe accommodation for LGBTQ youth fleeing persecution in Jamaica.

Sign the petition here: http://chn.ge/1j5O46U

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