Gay History 101: May 20, 2015

Maurice Tomlinson is a Jamaican legal lecturer and attorney-at-Law. He has been a leading gay rights and HIV activist in the Caribbean for over 20 years. (Wikipedia: Kimsae04)

History was never as straight as we are told. Recording our history means reporting the truth.

David Kato Kisule (1964 –2011) was a Ugandan teacher and LGBT rights activist, considered a father of Uganda's gay rights movement and described as “Uganda's first openly gay man.” He served as advocacy officer for Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG). Kato was murdered in 2011, beaten to death outside his home, shortly after winning a lawsuit against a magazine which had published his name and photograph identifying him as gay and calling for him to be executed. News of the barbaric murder made headlines around the world. For several months he had been the target of a hate-campaign mounted by a local newspaper. He had spent much of his life courageously helping those persecuted because of their sexual orientation often repeating his mantra: “Determined to struggle till a yard done to the journey of liberating the LGBTI community from the discrimination and oppressive laws in the name of sodomy!” ‘David's death is a result of the hatred planted in Uganda by U.S Evangelicals in 2009," Val Kalende, the woman who heads "Freedom and Roam Uganda," a gay rights group, said in a statement. "The Ugandan Government and the so-called U.S Evangelicals must take responsibility for David's blood." The “David Kato Vision & Voice Award” was established in his memory. The 2012 recipient, Jamaican LGBT rights activist Maurice Tomlinson, was announced on 14 December 2011 and was awarded on 29 January 2012 in London. In 2014 Kato was inducted into the Legacy Walk, an outdoor public display, which celebrates LGBT history and people.

Maurice Tomlinson (born 1971) is a Jamaican attorney-at-Law and law lecturer. He has been a leading gay rights and HIV activist in the Caribbean for over 20 years and is one of the only Jamaican LGBTI human rights advocates to challenge the country's 1864 British colonially imposed anti gay Sodomy Law (known as the Buggery Law). This law predominantly affects men who have sex with men (MSM) and carries a jail sentence of up to ten years imprisonment with hard labor. He has served as legal advisor on the boards of Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL) as well as the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG). He resides in Toronto, Canada, but he still visits Jamaica regularly to participate in legal challenges to anti-gay laws. Jamaican men who have sex with men have the highest HIV prevalence rate in the western hemisphere, at 33 percent. UNAIDS, the Jamaican Ministry of Health, and other regional and international agencies involved in the HIV response have identified that the overwhelming homophobia in Jamaica drives gays underground, away from effective HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support interventions. Since 2008, Tomlinson has been working with local and international partners to increase the visibility of Jamaican LGBTI people in order to improve their access to health care and specifically HIV services. In this regard, he has led several public initiatives, including public service announcements, Jamaica’s first Walk for Tolerance, multiple public demonstrations, a successful letter writing campaign to the Jamaican newspapers, and spearheaded meetings with senior government, diplomatic and civic officials. He travels around the Caribbean for the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network providing human rights documentation and advocacy training for groups working with LGBTI individuals. Maurice’s husband, Tom Decker, developed an award winning program to report homophobic violence while he worked for the Toronto Police. On behalf of AIDS-Free World, Decker revised this program for the Caribbean. He now travels with Maurice to deliver this training to Caribbean civil society groups, as well as provide LGBTI sensitization sessions for Caribbean police.

2015: Support for same-sex marriage has risen by 8 percent in the past two years and jumped 45 percent since the question was first asked in 1988.The largest shift in support since 2012 has come among Republicans, 45 percent now support marriage rights for same-sex couples. This represents a jump of 14 percent since 2012.


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