Quorum is a live journalism forum focused on LGBT experiences around the world. Its mission is to lift up the voices of non-Western LGBT activists defining the struggle for justice. Visit Quorum.thedailybeast.com for more stories of persecution, triumph, adversity, and strength.
Law professor and activist Maurice Tomlinson of AIDS-Free World says it wasn’t until he married his husband in Canada that he really understood the wrath of Jamaica’s rabid anti-gay culture.
He didn’t intend for the marriage to become public, but it was revealed by a student and made headline news. Death threats followed, as Tomlinson explained at The Daily Beast’s first installment of Quorum: Global LGBT Voices.
“If I was to hold my husbands hand in the privacy of our bedroom that would require me being charged with the offense of gross indecency, for which I would have to be registered as a sex offender and carry a card or pay a $1,000,000 fine,” he said to the crowd. “In 2011 our charter actually banned the recognition of any form of same gender relationships and seeks to constitutionally intrench our anti-sodomy law which was imposed by the British in 1864.”
Despite increasing support for those anti-sodomy laws in recent years, Tomlinson is hopeful and urges world leaders and LGBT allies to make a stand in whatever way they can.
“We have started to be visible,” he shared. “We realized that a lot of the hate is driven by fear and ignorance. People need to know us. They will understand that we are their brothers, their sisters, their lawyers, their teachers.”
Watch Tomlinson’s rousing call to action that kicked of the powerful and inspiring day.