Jamaican gay activist marries ‘soulmate’

Western Bureau – One of Jamaica’s leading gay activists, Maurice Tomlinson, says he may be forced to flee the country following media reports about his marriage to a male police-officer-cum pastor in Toronto, Canada, recently.

Tomlinson, a lawyer, married his ‘soulmate’ in August last year in a ceremony in the ethno-rich capital city. However, the media did not get wind of it until last week.

Yesterday, when The Sunday Gleaner contacted Tomlinson, he said he feared for his life. Already, he says he has been dealing with three death threats because of his activism, and that these are being dealt with by the Inter-American court of human rights.

Tomlinson’s concerns come to the fore just a few days after the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) gave the country’s new prime minister, Portia Simpson Miller, 100 days within which to bring up the issue of the buggery law for discussion in Parliament.

During the national political leadership debate before the December 29 general election, Simpson Miller spoke on the issue of the Buggery Act when she responded to a question. She said her administration would review the act and all members of the House of Representatives would be provided with an opportunity to vote on the matter based on their conscience.

Her response triggered a firestorm, causing the People’s National Party (PNP) to release a statement that its party president had given no commitment to repealing the act.

“The PNP president said it was time that the act be ‘reviewed’ and all members of the House of Representatives be provided with an opportunity to vote on the matter based on their conscience,” said the PNP in a release.

In the meantime, a report published in The Toronto Sun on Saturday said Tomlinson wept with joy during the wedding ceremony, and stated, “In Canada, I have a husband; in Jamaica, I have a good friend.”

The article went further, stating that because Tomlinson feared the repercussions, he had stopped going to parties and bars and public beaches in Jamaica.

reports of murder

Less than a month ago, J-FLAG said in 2011 it had received more than 60 reports of murder, mob attacks, extortion, home evictions, and verbal and physical abuse.

The organisation said at the time that the next government should take steps to promote tolerance and respect for human rights, regardless of sexual orientation, and protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender persons from abuse. Already, the United Nations Human Rights Committee has asked the Government to report, by the end of 2012, on the steps it will take to come into full compliance with its human-rights obligations. “We stand ready to assist our government on issues of concern to many Jamaicans with respect to the rights of the LGBT community,” J-FLAG said.

by Janet Silver, Senior Gleaner Writer
Source – The Gleaner