Posts tagged ‘Trinidad Express’

December 16, 2011

Anya Ayoung-Chee throws her weight against hate.

The petition to demand the Trinidad Express apologize for running an offensive advert that, among other things, described LGBT  people as ‘broken’  has been slowly picking up speed thanks to social networking and ActUp.org which posted an article but the pace was infuriating. Yes, the signatures tripled in two days but to have a mere 600 signatures for a subject that affects the  lives of so many people was disturbing to me. I am not broken and I will scream it out to the world

Sign the petition here.

Read the ActUp article here.

This evening the wonderful Anya Ayoung-Chee ( winner of Project Runway season 9 in case you haven’t been following this blog) came on board this evening via Twitter and Facebook. It was interesting that I was being treated to an early birthday dinner this evening and my friend Peter asked why I hadn’t encouraged Anya to join the fight. I didn’t have an answer- it was such an obvious thing – and then – as if to  admonish my sorry ass – she tweeted the ActUp post on Twitter followed by a post on Facebook to sign the petition – synchronicity.

The results have been extraordinary and the petition signatures have accelerated. Poor Anya, who is such a sweet person, has had to endure a fair number of hater comments on FB and even personal  attacks for her posts but she stands up for what is  right and we all need to be proud of her. This might be the pivotal moment in this campaign. A small battle but a significant one  for the LGBT community in T&T.

On another front,  a newspaper response is being arranged for the ignorant and cowardly bullies. Copy is being done by a Trinidadian living in the US with great credentials and the funding is being arranged as we speak.  The bigots may have achieved exactly the opposite of what they planned.

So on behalf of all the young lives that have been insulted by this ad  – a giant video bitchslap  to the evil people who posted  it  – from just a few of the wonderful and most definitely not broken people out there like me.

 

And finally, as posted before – for all the  LGBT kids who were driven to suicide because of the hate of people like the ones who posted that advertisement.  Never forget!

December 13, 2011

Preaching the Gospel of Hate

On Sunday the Trinidad Express published a vile advertisement that can only be described as hateful, mean spirited and  a pack of lies. I missed the ad when it ran but thanks to Colin of CAISO|GSPOTT posting it on Facebook it became a subject of much discussion and anger. Naturally, as is typical of such adverts, the usual suspects are mentioned as the saviors of  LGBT people – the ‘pray the gay away’ crowd of evil clowns.

Reputable psychological associations worldwide and even the WHO have indicated that human sexuality is naturally diverse and being lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans is not in any way shape or form a mental illness. Of  course the advertisement doesn’t even use any of those terms because they show that sexuality is only part of the equation that makes us human and also includes such things as gender identity.  The  people who write and publish such things don’t really care about the people they condemn –  they are just fodder for their  moral egos – humanity has no place in their warped and blinkered world. Even they can’t  honestly believe the rubbish they write.

They say they are doing it to save LGBT people from certain hell while doing an excellent job of creating a hell for them in the here and now. If they really want to save large numbers of people from Hades perhaps they should take out ads condemning the wrongs of Islam or Hinduism – there are a lot more Muslims and Hindus than there are LGBT people I assume. The problem is they can’t. Most countries including Trinidad and Tobago have strong laws against inciting religious hatred. So what the bullies do is pick on the ultimate marginalized and often not legally protected group – queer people.

Unable to fight inexorable progress towards full equality in their home countries ( or having lost the fight in places like Canada) they are now trying to export their hateful ideas to the developing world – often in countries where LGBT people’s lives are already threatened.  It is ironic that the advertisement here was placed one day after World Human Right’s Day and a few days after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s groundbreaking speech to the UN on equal rights for LGBT people.

One can safely assume  that any intelligent person would find the ad laughable and dismiss it ( quite rightly) as a feeble attempt by nasty bigots to inflict harm on another group – that is not the worry. The real worry is that some little kid somewhere who is beginning to feel the first stirrings of his or her  attractions might see it and genuinely believe he or she is ‘broken’. If a kid feels he or she is ‘broken’ and knows instinctively that he or she cannot change – they might pursue that one avenue that has seen us lose so many great kids over the years.  The only ‘broken’ people are the ones who can’t love and accept, who can’t resist imposing their beliefs on others, who don’t care about the hurt and damage they can cause and who are the very hypocrites that their Jesus would have soundly condemned.

They should remember that their savior spent his short life with people on the margins preaching the message of love.  They need to remember words ascribed to Jesus at the Last Supper – “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love “one another.”  They also need to go back to the New Testament and count how many times Jesus discussed the ‘sin’ of  homosexuality.

There are some people in T&T and around the world who aren’t taking this hateful ad placement on the chin. A petition is being circulated demanding that the Trinidad Express apologize for publishing it.  Please sign it as every signature makes a difference. As my  friend Bruce in Nova Scotia  points out there is some problematic wording about ‘lifestyle’  ( it isn’t a lifestyle – it is a life) in the petition but we can forgive that for the while as the general point is still there.

The other great news is that after I tweeted the lovely folks of ActUp.org , an international LGBT activism group, to retweet the petition  – they did – and they went further and posted it as a news article on their site.  Read it here.

It is sad that the petition is taking so long to build up momentum but given the fact that  gay sex is still criminalized in T&T (though seldom if ever applied) and there is still much stigma perhaps it isn’t that surprising. Still, standing up for our rights and the rights of others is a measure of our humanity and I am still hoping that more people show their humanity in this regard.

UPDATE

As a media advertising person who I used to work with just noted on a friend’s FB page -

Besides this advertisement being malicious and disgusting…it is also illegal. The Advertising Standards Authority prohibits ads to be published without a clear indication of who is paying for the ad and re-dress information. Letters should be sent to the Media Complaints Council (800-4622); Trinidad and Tobago Publishers and Broadcasters Association (TTPBA); Chamber of Commerce (Media Committee); and MATT.

March 22, 2011

Of hypocrisy and hairdos

Though I know and have interviewed many politicians I generally hold them in fairly low regard. I have told veteran and aspiring politicians alike that to me all politicians are either crooks or crooks in training. Cynical, I know, but really not too far from my actual view.

Trinidad & Tobago got a new government in May of 2010. They were swept into power promising change and turning away from the real or perceived profligate spending of the previous regime.  After entering office the public was told that the treasury was low in funds and there would need to be a very careful approach to spending in the years ahead. All was okay, however, as we were told that “we are all in this together.” Again, fair enough.

While public servants and other quarters were calling for increased wages they were told that they should think of the national good and wait for the economy to recover. Not unreasonable  when put into the context of the aforementioned national belt-tightening  – then things started to change.

To appeal to heaven knows what electorate the prize money for cultural shows such as Soca Monarch, Chutney Soca Monarch and Calypso Monarch was suddenly increased to $2 million TT each. Did this money benefit the general population? Nope. Just the winners. Now, however, comes a development that is even more egregious a waste of  those allegedly diminished tax dollars – not because of scale but because it is not widely reported and is an example of  ‘do as I say but not as I do’.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar in earlier, less glam times.

The Prime Minister has been out of the country on a several trips for economic, cultural and political reasons.  During those trips ( including one to accept an award from Glamor magazine) she has been spotted in various upscale and fashionable ensembles. Not a problem really; she says  she is promoting local fashion designers. Naturally, these outfits need serious hair and makeup as well. Here I was thinking that the PM had learned some makeup tricks and was making use of the salons in the hotels she was staying in. Turns out I was wrong –  as I discovered following her recent trip to London to handle some Commonwealth business ( she is currently the head of that exceedingly useless organization filled with innumerable miscreants).

The New and Improved Glam Kam with the British PM - pic from news.gov.tt

It seems the PM, a la Oprah, travels on these trips with her own celebrity hairdresser from Trinidad – who normally caters to the rich and famous on the island. On the recent trip he closed up shop ( presumably losing a lot of money and requiring compensation)  for a week and tagged along  seeing to her coiffure needs. I can only presume this is being funded by taxpayers dollars ( unless she is willing to squander her own money for such a frivolous purpose). This reeks of hypocrisy.

I am sure her legions of supporters will say the hairdresser’s  airfare, hotel accommodation, meals and compensation for losing a week at his business is justified because the PM needs to look good so that the country looks good. This would suggest they truly believe the PM is unable to find a decent hair or makeup artist in the backwoods places she visits like New York and London. Surely  a hotel hairstylist could make the arduous trip up to the penthouse with straightening iron in hand?

When the Summit of the Americas was held in Trinidad, the US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton ( not a head of state but infinitely more important than the PM of a small Caribbean island) made it her business to look for a hairdresser in Port of Spain to take care of her needs.

As columnist and accountant William Lucie-Smith recently wrote in the Trinidad Express:

“I am very surprised at how partisan so many people are, because I find it difficult to give continuous support to any political party. The truth is I believe the people of Trinidad and Tobago have been very badly represented by politicians in general and that a great deal of the wealth of our country has been squandered by venal politicians more interested in personal political mileage than the common good. No political party has shown much virtue in their management of our resources and the current government is no exception.”

When preaching fiscal restraint it is always a good example to lead by example.

February 27, 2011

Young T&T activists speak out against the death penalty.

Faced with a major problem with serious crime in Trinidad & Tobago, the current government is ( rather predictably) pushing for the reimplementation of the death penalty. The penalty has never left the books but following the Privy Council decision in the case of Pratt and Morgan , governments have been unable to execute anyone for many years. To circumvent this the government is now moving to amend legislation to essentially limit the time frame for appeals to 18 months. On the face of  it this flies in the face of  due process but that is another matter  .

A recent survey indicated that 91% of the population are in favor of  a return to the death penalty. In an interesting turnabout, when asked if they would support the possibility of the death penalty if an innocent person might end up hanged the  support level dropped to 35%.

The Trinidad Express has an interesting look at the survey and the death penalty internationally here.

There are a few voices locally such as Verna St. Rose Greaves who have taken a strong moral stand against the return to hangings in T&T . Even more heartening are a few young activists who are also speaking out like twins ( so yes, you are seeing correctly) Brendon and Brandon O’Brien. Check out their videos and spread the word.

February 25, 2011

Rajiv Gopie weighs in too: Equal rights for all of us.

The Trinidad Express is relentlessly publishing articles drawing attention to the need for the T&T government to address matters of LGBT equality. Rajiv Gopie has published excellent articles on the subject before and today’s is no exception. Having two columnists tackle the issue in the  paper on the same day positions the Trinidad Express at the vanguard of this new thrust.

“In actuality there is no such thing as “gay rights” and that needs to be made very clear. Those on the losing side of history but who are full of hate will seek to instil fear and assert that GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered) people are asking for special rights but this is wholly untrue.

GLBT people are simply seeking equal rights and their human rights. The GLBT community is asking for the basic right to life, the right to live safe and without the fear of death or violence looming over them. There are places all over the world from Iran to Uganda to Jamaica where people are killed and are the subject of extreme violence simply for being gay. In South Africa lesbians are subject to community sanctioned “corrective rape” to “turn” them heterosexual. No religion, no belief, no dogma supports or can justify terrorism of the innocent. GLBT people in T&T are seeking the same rights afforded to everyone — to live a safe, productive life without the fear of violence.

Read the rest here.

February 25, 2011

Biting satire from Kevin Baldeosingh in the Trinidad Express

Trinidad & Tobago’s preeminent satirist takes on the current call for equal rights legislation and  those who resist it. With his usual wit he draws an analogy between the current call and calls for equal rights from other groups in past. Like Jonathan Swift and his A Modest Proposal that urged the Irish to eat their children to solve the hunger problem , Kevin proves that satire can be the best way to get a point across.

“The law should not be changed to give equal rights to negroes, I mean homos. For one thing, pretending that they are equal to other human beings would encourage crime in the society. After all, negroes, I mean homos, were illegal persons in most parts of the civilised world up to the 19th century. When they were made legal, crime immediately started to rise, because it was no longer legal to kill the enslaved, I mean the depraved, and trying to legalise homos in Trinidad and Tobago would therefore worsen the crime rate. It is a well established theological and scientific fact that negroes, I mean homos, are prone to idleness, promiscuity, and violence. If we want to reduce crime, the police need to improve their detection rate, especially for sodomy.”

Read the rest of this soon to be classic piece  A Harangue on Homos here.

February 23, 2011

Trinidad Express – Where does government stand on equality?

 

The Trinidad Express, which has been providing daily coverage of LGBT issues in T&T for the past week,has now devoted an entire editorial to equality. It should be noted that of the three national dailies it is the only one that has taken this issue on board and made it a priority.

“For failure to admit sexual orientation as a ground of discrimination, T&T has been lagging behind the rest of the progressive world which has long been taking this development in stride. Some clarification is due on where this government stands: whether with the scripture-quoting homophobia identified with big names in reggae culture, or with the enlightened consensus holding that all human beings should be treated equally. The clarification is especially necessary in light of the fact that gay rights appeared to be immediately opposed by a Government Senator-Minister invoking, not only religion, but not even his own religion.

Read the rest here.

Interesting that the great majority of comments thus far are positive.

February 20, 2011

Trinidad Express – Gay Debate Comes Out of the Closet

In today’s Trinidad Express newspaper.

“In the amendment, the definition of next kin was broadened to include cohabitational spouses and children born out of wedlock.

Baptiste-McKnight and Armstrong have disagreed with the definition of cohabitational spouses as a “person of the opposite sex”.

This led Panday to lash out at Baptiste-McKnight with a quote from the Book of Leviticus in the Christian Bible, which condemns homosexuality among males.

Gender Affairs Minister, Mary King, has also previously called for a debate on same sex unions.

“We know we are in contravention of the International Convention on Human Rights,” Mahabir-Wyatt said in a telephone interview Friday, adding that she has a legal obligation to report on the human rights situation in Trinidad and Tobago.

“People should have the same rights under the law.”

Read the article here.

February 19, 2011

Interesting result from a disturbing question.

Latest poll results @7pm T&T time

There has been a lot of media discussion in Trinidad & Tobago over the last week on the matter of LGBT rights and even ( rather amazingly)  same-sex marriage. This is a result of  a debate in the senate on an unrelated matter (the Statutory Authorities Amendment Bill)  that took a surprising turn when some  senators brought up the subject saying the discussion could lead to same-sex marriage. Since the debate was specifically about people who are NOT married that was patently ridiculous but Government Senator and Minister of  Planning, Mary King took the matter and ran with it indicating that LGBT matters should be discussed in the future. Local LGBT groups, most notably CAISO, have leveraged the discussion through the media and  are getting a great deal of local and regional mileage.

Having interviewed both Minister King and Colin Robinson of CAISO in the last week I can report that the matter is definitely building up some momentum. The question is what will this momentum lead to?   The current government hinted on the campaign trail that the matter of  equality could be dealt with by a referendum – a suggestion so patently silly it is surprising anyone was misguided enough to bring it up. When human rights are involved it usually requires a government willing to ignore a fear of political fallout and do the moral thing.  No one in their right mind would suggest that a referendum be held to give Catholics or left handed people equal rights.

In any case, the Trinidad Express has noted the debate and is conducting a referendum of their own by posting a poll asking “Do you support calls for the government to grant equal rights to members of the gay community?”  This being the developing world  and part of the highly homophobic English Caribbean one would have expected a bloodbath. While members and friends of the LGBT community might certainly leverage the internet to add to the ‘yes’ votes – the same opportunity is available to those who think that all people should not have equality. Being a loud and  generally boisterous group it would have been likely that the anti-equality forces, buoyed by sheer numbers would have dominated the poll. Strangely, this has not been the case. The current result has been holding at 56% ‘yes’ to 46% ‘no .

There may be mitigating factors given that more educated people may be more likely to take the poll, or that large numbers of anti-equality folks may not have internet access or do not bother to read the online papers. There is also another possibility – maybe a large portion of the population actually really does feel that all citizens are entitled to protection under the law. Yes, it is depressing that so many people have voted ‘no’, but in the context of this part of the world it is still encouraging that they are in the minority.

Will anything come of the current discussion in terms of  changing the current legislation? The government would need balls to make such changes  and in this country no government so far has had anything even close  to that.

For background on Trinidad & Tobago’s current laws that omit protection based on sexual orientation have a gander at Lisa Allen-Agostini’s excellent blog post “About those gay rights” here.

Keep an eye on the poll here.

November 21, 2010

Another Excellent Column in the Trinidad Express on LGBT Issues

Trinidad Express Columnist Rajiv Gopie delivers another excellent column – this time a continuation of his series on LGBT issues in Trinidad and Tobago. In his latest he looks at myths surrounding the subject that, as is the case in many other parts of the world, are accepted as facts.

Read more here.

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