A coalition of Jamaican NGOs is to hold a groundbreaking ‘Walk for Tolerance’ in the northern Jamaican tourist city of Montego Bay tomorrow.
The walk, described by the coalition as "critical", is being spearheaded by Jamaica Aids Support for Life (JASL) which is Jamaica’s oldest and largest Non-Governmental Organization working in the area of HIV/AIDS awareness, prevention and care. JASL say that "persistent and insidious acts of discrimination and stigmatization .. severely hinders the national fight against HIV/AIDS."
"The purpose of the walk is to raise awareness of the need for tolerance, educate and inform persons about these groups which are most at risk of HIV/AIDS transmission and what can be done to minimize the impact of the disease on them and the nation as a whole."Although the JASL press statement is not explicit, the walk is clearly aimed at the high levels of intolerance of homosexuality on the island. "Because of the intersections of the populations they serve", say JASL, the walk is a partnership with the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities (CVC) and the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) in carrying out this ‘Walk for Tolerance’ .
Montego Bay has the second highest rate of HIV/AIDS prevalence in Jamaica. JASL expect 100 people to participate representing various local and international groups such as NGOs, churches, schools, government officials and the press.