25,000 Jamaicans Rally to Save Antigay 'Buggery' Law

The massive rally provides evidence of increasing efforts to ramp up Jamaican homophobia by some religious leaders in the island nation.

BY Thom Senzee

July 01 2014 4:05 PM ET

A "very frightening" mass of about 25,000 protesters rallied in support of Jamaica's so-called "buggery law" — a colonial leftover in the civil code that criminalizes sodomy — in a demonstration organized by religious leaders in Kingston on Sunday, according to BuzzFeed.

"That’s a significant number of people to come to a rally, considering the population and yet we are already under siege,” Jamaican LGBT advocate Maurice Tomlinson told BuzzFeed. "This is the signal that we dare not pop our heads up. People I know are trying to lay low and avoid repercussions.”

The organization behind the rally, Jamaica CAUSE (Churches Action Uniting Society for Emancipation) is a coalition of religious groups, which claims to be fighting the so-called homosexual agenda in Jamaica. The group also claimed to be promoting "strong and healthy families" during the rally, which took place at Kingston's busiest intersection, called Half-Way-Tree, according to local newspaper the Jamaica Observer.

“Our emancipation means standing up for strong families, our emancipation means standing against the homosexuality agenda, emancipation for us means standing up against the repealing of the buggery law,” Alvin Bailey, a man described as the rally's chairman, told the crowd, according to BuzzFeed.

Sunday's rally comes less than a month after pro-LGBT organization Human Rights First embarked on a new effort to make the island nation a safer place for its LGBT residents, and as Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller has reportedly been working with the government to introduce legislation to repeal the colonial-era antisodomy law. It's unclear what impact — if any — the rally will have on those efforts. 

Tags: Jamaica, World

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