July 29, 2018 at 8:37 pm EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Caribbean countries hold first-ever Pride parades

storm drain, Capital Pride, gay news, Washington Blade

Activists in Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados this month held their countries’ first-ever Pride marches. (Photo by Ted Eytan; courtesy Flickr)

Activists in Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados this month held their countries’ first-ever Pride parades.

Hundreds of people took part in a Pride parade in the Trinidadian capital of Port of Spain on Saturday.

Many of the participants were holding Pride flags as they participated in the event. Newsday, a Trinidadian newspaper, reported a health fair took place in a local park named after former South African President Nelson Mandela before the parade.

“The visibility we share here, today, is going to shine a light on the issues that LGBTI people face, that so many people want to stifle and keep us in the closet and don’t want to deal with to find the kind of solutions we are looking for,” Kennedy Maharaj, chief administrative officer of the Silver Lining Foundation, a Trinidadian advocacy group, told Newsday.

More than 100 people took part in Barbados’ first Pride parade that took place Bridgetown, the island’s capital, on July 22.

Donnya Piggott, executive director of Barbados-Gays, Lesbians and All-Sexuals Against Discrimination (B-GLAD), a Barbadian LGBTI advocacy group, told the Washington Blade in an email the Royal Barbados Police Force provided “excellent security.” Piggott also described the parade as “an incident free event full of allies, LGBTQ community and a diverse group of Barbadians from all backgrounds.”

Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago are among the countries in the English-speaking Caribbean in which consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized.

A judge on Trinidad and Tobago’s High Court in April struck down the country’s sodomy law. Three LGBTI rights advocates in Barbados in June filed a lawsuit with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights against the island’s colonial-era statute that criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual relations.

The Inter-American Court of Human Rights in January issued a landmark ruling that recognizes same-sex marriage and transgender rights.

The Organization of American States in 1979 created the Costa Rica-based court in order to enforce provisions of the American Convention on Human Rights. January’s ruling is legally binding in Barbados and the 19 other countries in the Western Hemisphere that recognize the convention.

“We have finally reached a point in our country where we can have an open LGBT pride event that speaks to how far we have come as a country, as a society and more so, as a people,” Maharaj told Newsday after the Port of Spain Pride march. “That is what we value as success here, the fact that we can be out an open and have this kind of event, that is what we are banking on.”

Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination Guyana, an LGBTI advocacy group in Guyana, organized the South American country’s first-ever Pride parade that took place on June 2. J-FLAG, a Jamaican LGBTI advocacy group, is organizing a series of Pride events in the country’s capital of Kingston that are scheduled to begin on Tuesday.

Consensual same-sex sexual relations remain criminalized in both countries.

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

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