The gay rights advocacy group here has welcomed a ruling in Trinidad and Tobago which decriminalizes sex between two consenting people of the same sex.
Barbados Gays, Lesbians and All-Sexuals against Discrimination (B-GLAD) is describing the ruling as a Caribbean win.
“This landmark case signifies a necessary step in the decolonization of our independent Caribbean territories,” B-GLAD Co-director Ro-Ann Mohammed said, while making reference to similar laws in Barbados.
“These laws criminalizing consenting acts of love between autonomous adults were left behind as a relic of colonialism,” Mohammed stressed, adding that Britain discarded similar legislation since 1967, and such laws had no place in the region.
In February 2017, Jason Jones, a gay man, filed a lawsuit against the government of Trinidad and Tobago seeking to overturn the sections 13 and 16 of the Sexual Offences Act, which is directly related to buggery.
Justice Devindra Rampersad today ruled that both sections of the law were unconstitutional, illegal, null and void and of no effect to the extent that these laws criminalize any acts constituting consensual sexual conduct between adults.
The ruling came on the heels of a peaceful protest earlier this week where over 150 persons from Trinidad and Tobago’s lesbians, gays, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community stood in front of the country’s parliament in Port of Spain calling for equality, diversity and love.
Mohammed said she was hopeful that the rest of English-speaking Caribbean would follow Trinidad’s lead “so that we may all live with dignity”.
While pointing out that this was by no means merely an LGBT issue, but a human rights issue, the gays rights advocate said: “This is about everybody, it is not a homosexual law as it affects heterosexuals too. This law is about a consenting adult expressing love and intimacy with their adult consenting partner.”
Mohammed said today’s ruling showed that justice and human rights prevailed against bigotry.
Meantime, High Court Judge Devindra Rampersad said the case was not about “religious and moral beliefs” but had to do with “the alienable rights of a citizen” under the Trinidad and Tobago constitution.
“This is a case about the dignity of the person and not about the will of the majority or any religious debate. History has proven that the two do not always coincide. To my mind, religious debates are left to be discussed and resolved in other quarters with persons who subscribe to those particular ideals and for the followers of those ideals to be convinced as to the religiousness, sanctity or morality of those ideals,” Rampersad said.
“The court had to consider the dignity of the claimant and citizens like in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in the context of whether his, and by extension, their rights under the constitution are being validly impinged,” she stressed. (KH)