My interview with Colin Robinson of the Coalition Advocating for the Inclusion of Sexual Orientation. Aired March 14, 2013 on ieTV, Trinidad.
ieTV’s coverage of a bold and historic protest in Port of Spain, Trinidad calling for the Equal Opportunity Act to include age, sexual orientation and HIV status to its anti-discrimination protections. The reporter, like most of those who covered the event, included same sex marriage though that was not one of the calls that CAISO was making at this time.
A few weeks ago I was privileged to be a consultant to a group started by Jeremy Steffan Edwards and comprised of young people who, spurred by yet another teen suicide in Trinidad and countless others around the world, decided that enough was enough and that they would make a difference. Sitting in that first meeting held at a conference table at the University of the West Indies I looked at the young faces and listened to them emphatically stating that young people being driven to despair because they were lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered or questioning was not acceptable and I can’t really describe how proud I felt and how full of hope for the future.
Out of a series of meetings the George Kasanjian Foundation which later became The Silver Lining Foundation was born. Driven by some of the most passionate young people I have met in recent years the group has finally crafted its mission statement and vision statement.
The Silver Lining Foundation is committed to facilitating safe access to the relevant psychological, sexual, medical, recreational and media resources necessary to educate, equip and empower youth to deal with difficulties regarding sexual orientation and gender identity/expression.
To create an environment conducive to respect and self acceptance, and to provide a support system for marginalized youth regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression, leading to a sustainable and functional Life.
It has also embarked on a project that will be a first for T&T – a Day of Silence which will be observed on Friday. Those participating will tape their mouths and hand out cards to others on campus explaining the purpose of the group. The Trinidad Guardian published an excellent article on the day here.
This might seem like a small act to achieve a very big change – and it is – but it is a start and it will mark a major turning point in the fight for LGBTQ kids to be given the dignity and respect that they deserve as equal human beings. This is also being done in a country in the English speaking Caribbean – not normally viewed as an especially tolerant environment for such vulnerable kids. In practice T&T is nowhere as unwelcoming as say Jamaica but there are still discriminatory ( though rarely enforced) rules on the books and LGBT people face discrimination on a daily basis simply because of who they are.
2012 will go down as an interesting year for us with this inspiring project by The Silver Lining Foundation and by CAISO which has embarked on a series of weekly meetings to push equality onto the national agenda ( I am on the – wait for it – Media Committee). This could be the start of something really good.
Interview with Colin Robinson of Trinidad & Tobago’s Coalition Advocating for the Inclusion of Sexual Orientation. This interviewed on ieTV Channel 1, Trinidad on May 18, 2011.
One on One interview from ieTV with Colin Robinson of the Coalition Advocating for the Inclusion of Sexual Orientation. Colin speaks about the UN vote on extra-judicial killings and T&T’s actions, the possibility of amending national legislation, same sex marriage and a number of other issues. He is especially concerned that the discussion about same sex marriage is premature and that more basic legislation needs to be dealt with first.
The press conference on same sex marriage scheduled by Trinidad & Tobago’s Minister of Planning, Social & Economic Restructuring and Gender Affairs has been postponed as “further research” is needed. Might have something to do with putting the cart before the horse as T&T still has ( seldom enforced) anti-sodomy laws.
The Trinidad Express is continuing its relentless coverage of the call for national legislation to be amended so as to provide equal rights and protection for the LGBT community. This comes on the heels of several other articles and a poll asking readers to vote on the issue.
“THE decriminalisation of homosexuality should have nothing to do with religion, says Dr Gabrielle Hosein, lecturer at the Institute for Gender and Developmental Studies at the University of the West Indies in St Augustine.
Hosein said while religious organisations are ready to hold their own positions based on religious texts, those religious positions should not be applied to persons who do not share those religious views.
“We are living in a multicultural society, so we need to live in a society where the views of different persons are not necessarily imposed on others,” Hosein said in a telephone interview on Thursday.
Her comments came one day after Colin Robinson, spokesman for the Coalition Advocating for the Inclusion of Sexual Orientation (CAISO), called on the Government to adopt a policy of equality for all, inclusive of those in the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) community.
The good folks at CAISO|GSPOTTT have been trying to get an answer from the Government of Trinidad & Tobago as to why the country abstained in two separate UN 3rd Committee votes. As you may recall the matter revolved around a bloc of African and Muslim countries trying to remove a clause that protected persons from extrajudicial killing ( murder) as a result of their sexual orientation. After the protection was initially removed the United States stepped in and managed to turn the vote around.
What CAISO|GSPOTTT has discovered is that the government seems to be rather confused ( read: doesn’t know its ass from its elbow) on the matter:
Just in: Over the past seven weeks we’ve been following up repeatedly on your calls, emails, faxes and letters to our Min. of Foreign Affairs and United Nations mission. Our country abstained twice on UN votes regarding whether to condemn “extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions” (in more simple terms, murder) based on sexual orientation. We asked them to tell us why. After all, they had promised transparency and accountability in foreign policy.
Well, apparently our new Government isn’t sure whether we are opposed to killing gay people or not.
As CAISO|GSPOTTT also notes this is the same government whose leader said ( just six days after being elected) :
Discrimination and unfairness does exist in our society but it affects so many rather just one community. It includes, but is certainly not limited to, racial bias.
Discrimination and prejudice is amorphous and has different sources and motivations: it may be based on gender, class, poverty, political affiliation, contact technology or who-yuh-know, locality, sexual orientation, victims of HIV and yes, race.
Read more here.