August 5, 2015 at 10:08 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Jamaican advocates stage country’s first Pride celebration

Angela Brown Burke, Jamaica, gay news, Washington Blade

Kingston, Jamaica, Mayor Angela Brown Burke, center, with J-FLAG Executive Director Dane Lewis, right, and Kate Spring of UNAIDS during a human rights forum earlier this year. (Photo courtesy of J-FLAG)

Jamaica’s first-ever LGBT Pride celebration took place this week in the country’s capital of Kingston without any reports of violence.

Kingston Mayor Angela Brown-Burke is among those who spoke at an opening ceremony on Saturday that featured the raising of a rainbow flag.

“I’m here this afternoon to support the LGBT and ally community in celebration of their resilience, in celebration of their reaching out over the last decade and more,” she said.

Andrew Colburn of the U.S. Agency for International Development is among those who also spoke during the opening ceremony. Lesbian actress Ellen Page earlier in the day attended a flash mob in Kingston that was among the series of events held to commemorate Pride that J-FLAG, a Jamaican LGBT advocacy group, organized.

Jamaican Justice Minister Mark Golding also endorsed the Pride celebration.

“#PRIDEJA2015 was phenomenal for LGBT Jamaicans and the country at large,” said Jaevion Nelson of J-FLAG, which organized the event, on Wednesday on his Twitter page.

The opening ceremony took place indoors. Pride organizers did not disclose the location of the flash mob until shortly before it took place in order to ensure the safety of those who took part.

Jamaica is among the dozens of countries in which consensual same-sex sexual activity remains illegal.

Advocates have become increasingly visible on the island in recent years, but anti-LGBT discrimination and violence remain pervasive.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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