After being in existence for five years and hosting an equal number of Pride festivals that celebrated the resilience of Jamaican LGBTI people, Montego Bay Pride has successfully completed the process of registering with the Companies Office of Jamaica.

Since its inception Montego Bay Pride has faced significant challenges, including an attempt by the current and former mayors of Montego Bay to effectively shut down the 2019 festival by banning the city-owned Cultural Centre from hosting Pride events.

As an unincorporated entity, Montego Bay Pride could not have sued in its own right for this violation of the rights to freedom of assembly and expression and so, the organization’s founder, Maurice Tomlinson had to personally do so. Although initially successful at the Supreme Court the decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal on a technicality. Despite this setback Montego Bay Pride was still able to put on some activities in 2019, such as an LGBTI Walk for Rights that featured representatives from the Canadian, American and EU diplomatic missions.

In accordance with the work that Montego Bay Pride has been engaged in since its inception, some of the objectives of the registered company are:

  • To foster pride among members of the LGBTI communities in Montego Bay and the wider Jamaica;
  • To support efforts to achieve greater respect for the human rights of LGBTI people;
  • To improve the health, economic, spiritual and social conditions of LGBTI people throughout Jamaican through making representations on their behalf to the relevant government and civil society agencies; and
  • To assist with the acquisition of food, clothing, bedding, furniture, accommodation and other necessary items for shelters that serve LGBTI people in Jamaica.

Maurice Tomlinson, the founder and development coordinator for Montego Bay Pride said that this registration has been “a dream come true” as it will ensure stability and permanence of the organization while also assisting with fund raising. “What started as a one-day party at a villa in Montego Bay has grown into a movement for full LGBTI equality across Jamaica,” Tomlinson said.

Coordinator of Montego Bay Pride, Sharlene Kessna-Duncan added that, “Registration was a serious step with significant reporting obligations. But the Montego Bay Pride planning committee embraced these obligations as a demonstration of our commitment to the full dignity of every LGBTI citizen.”

About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist based in Toronto with a focus on tourism, lifestyle, entertainment and community issues. He has written several travel articles and has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He’s willing to take on any assignments of interest, attend parties with free booze, listen to rants, and travel the world in search of the great unknown. He’s eager to discover the new, remember the past, and look into the future.