Jason Jones: The LGBTQ+ Activist Breaking Ground in Trinidad and the United Kingdom

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5:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Russell Square: College Buildings
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About this event

Speakers: Jason Jones and Mazharul Islam

Speaker biographies

Jason Jones is an LGBTQ+ human rights defender originally from Trinidad & Tobago who has lived and worked in Britain for over 30 years.

He refers to himself as being “Tringlish”, Queer and as a person of colour.

His activism in LGBTQ+ human rights spans 4 decades beginning  as a student newly arrived to London, marching in the anti-Section 28 marches of 1988. He then returned to Trinidad in 1992, and was the cofounder of the first LGBTQ+ advocacy organisation in the Southern Caribbean, “The Lambda Group” & he also founded “I Am One” in Trinidad in 2012.

In 1996, after being homophobically abused by his family and dragged through the T&T press for performing drag publicly, he returned to London and was on the board of the Stonewall Immigration Group ( Now known as RAINBOW MIGRATION) which won the right of abode in the U.K. for the overseas partner of an LGBT+ U.K. citizen. He and his then partner also from Trinidad, were one of 40 test cases at the Home Office which brought about this landmark win for British LGBTQ+ people, which was the first pro-LGBTQ+ legislation in the U.K. post decriminalisation in 1967.

He has therefore assisted changing the laws of TWO Countries for LGBTQ+ people, the only activist in history ever to do so.

On April 12 2018, he won a landmark legal challenge at the High Court of Trinidad and Tobago which decriminalised adult consensual same-sex intimacy. This win guarantees freedom for 100,000+ Caribbean LGBTQ+ people and was also cited twice in the decriminalisation victory in India in 2018.

His historic case will be heard at the Privy Council in London to answer an appeal of his victory from the Attorney General of T&T.

This will be the first time in history that the Privy Council will hear an LGBTQ+ decriminalisation case and his victory there will assist decriminalisation of over 50 Million people in at least 10 other countries across 2 Continents.

Mazharul Islam (Maz) is a LGBTQIA+ activist from Bangladesh who fled his country on the 29th April 2016, after the murder of his two Bangladeshi LGBTQIA+ activist friends by religious extremists in Dhaka on 25 April 2016. He was one of the pioneer members and management board member of the online LGBTQIA+ group: ‘Boys of Bangladesh’ which is considered to be one of the first online platforms for the Bangladeshi LGBTQIA+ community.

Maz moved to London shortly after in 2016 with the support of his past employer ACCA. In his spare time, he is a tour guide of ‘Queer Tours of London,’ an active member of ‘ACT UP London’ and a volunteer member of the ‘Gay Liberation Front of London and Petter Tatchell Foundation. He has been actively working as founding member of a Bangladeshi non-profit organisation entitled ‘Family and Environment Development Services (FEDS)’ since 2007.

Maz was proud to be one of the winners of the ‘Attitude Pride Awards’ in 2018, whereby he was nominated for the award by Peter Tatchell himself. This nomination was for organising and leading a protest in London in front of the Bangladeshi High Commissioner, seeking justice for his two SOGIESC activist friends who were brutally murdered back in Bangladesh.

He is now a self-proclaimed SOGIESC activist who is dedicated to bringing positive change in both Bangladesh’s SOGI community and for London based SOGIESC Bangladeshi people. Maz was invited as a panellist for an event on World Press Freedom Day (May 2019) hosted by BBC. On pride month in 2019, he was also featured in Vogue Online Magazine (in the June 2019 issue) alongside a number of other SOGIESC activists from around the world. Maz has contributed to the books; WE CAN DO BETTER THAN THIS which tells his journey as a Bangladeshi LGBTQIA+ activist, edited by Amelia Abraham and published by Penguin publication and United Queendom by Dan Glass. 

In addition to all his campaign work, Maz has completed a BA Hons and an MA in English Literature and Language from Daffodil International University in Bangladesh. He is also an artist who completed a course on painting from the University of the Arts London and due to his success in this, he had a group exhibition of his paintings showcased in Bangladesh, Nepal and Japan.

Maz is currently doing his online MA in Global Culture at King’s College London  and running an online group;(for the British Bangladeshi, Bangladeshi and Bangladeshi  queers around the world) The Rainbow Tree ; A virtual home for Queers which is chaired and founded by himself. He is one of the trustees of the Charity Organisation; The African Rainbow Family and a Patron of another Charity organisation;ReportOut which is global human rights organisation for sexual and gender minorities. 

Event recording

Organiser: SOAS Centre of African Studies

Contact email: cas@soas.ac.uk