The Abominable Crime is a feature documentary that explores the culture of homophobia in Jamaica through the eyes of gay Jamaicans who are forced to choose between their homeland and their lives after their sexual orientations are exposed.
Here you’ll find an interview of activist and lawyer Maurice Tomlinson done some months back by me.
Q: You have been doing LGBT work around the world; especially in the Caribbean for over 14 years now. How did you come to do this type of work?
A: I was a corporate lawyer. I had some spare time and I wanted to do volunteer work so I worked with Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL) on their board doing legal work. They needed a lawyer to help with human rights training for LGBT especially as it related to MSM (men who have sex with men). We quickly realized they (MSM) were being marginalized and victimized and very vulnerable to HIV. No other lawyers wanted to work with them because they deemed it professional suicide…Once I started doing these trainings; I realized just how badly things were. As a result, I started writing about the experiences to newspaper editors because so many people didn’t know what was going on and a lot of people didn’t care. It was very hostile. I continued doing that for a while and in 2011 the organization I work for now, AIDS-Free World realized the link between homophobia and HIV in Jamaica so they asked that I come on board.
You were just in St. Lucia doing work with the police department there.
Right. My husband is the former LGBT liaison officer for the Toronto Police Service and while he worked there he developed a program called “Report Homophobic Violence Period,” which has been used to train police services around the world in Europe, Australia, United States and Canada. The program trains the officers on how to interact and respond to human rights abuses against LGBT people. That program won several awards and AIDS-Free World has facilitated this training being brought to the Caribbean. So far, we’ve done trainings in St. Lucia, Barbados and Suriname.
Q: You travel quite a bit. Especially between Toronto (where you now reside) to Jamaica to do activism work. How’s that experience been; being in such polarizing circles?
A: Due to the death treats that I’ve received; going back to Jamaica has not been as good an experience as it used to be. Now I have a dedicated driver and I go directly to where I need to be. I can’t go out and do social things like I would like to. I have been recognized. A car that I was in was recognized and was nearly mobbed at a stop light. Thankfully the light changed but persons were making a commotion to form a mob. It’s so crushing in some instances you feel like you’re a prisoner in your own country but I continue to do it because the work has to be done.
Abominable Crime will be released to DVD on June 10th, 2014 and is currently available for Pre-order.