Survivor of Jamaican hostility, I work to legalize our loves

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06/27/2019

Risk of imprisonment. Death threats. Blackmail. Contempt from police. AIDS. Jamaican/Canadian activist lawyer Maurice Tomlinson tells why he works to overturn Caribbean nations’ anti-gay laws. The first time I visited my now husband in Toronto, he suggested that I get out and explore the city on my own while he was at work. I was terrified. I didn’t know it then, but I had all the classic signs of PTSD. I was filled with dread at the prospect of going out alone because for years I had lived in a self-imposed prison in my homeland of Jamaica due to intense and sometimes deadly homophobia. My privilege as a middle-class lawyer gave me a false sense of insulation from the worst of these attacks as I drove a private car, lived in a gated community, and enjoyed relative job security as an independently employed person. In Jamaica, LGBT people have no protection from discrimination in employment, housing, healthcare or education.

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