I love few guests as I love Verna St. Rose -Greaves. She is also a friend and when my Dad passed away one of the first people I had to call to give me strength was Auntie Verna. She was there at the funeral giving me her quiet strength. This was the first time she spoke to media in this way and discussed governance, alcoholism and Jack Warner ( sorry CNC3) the action gets going at 14:40) . She is an extraordinary woman and, like dad, she is completely fearless. Another regret of many I have is that I never brought her to dad and Myda’s home to see them interact. When I die I want Auntie Verna to ring the bell at my funeral. Crazy Verna my ass – she is the sanest person I know.
As many of you might know I live and work in Trinidad & Tobago which is a strange mishmash of Victorian laws and modernity. Ignoring the Sexual Offenses Act which might be problematic for me were I not given only 3 months in the country on my last entry :
13. (1) Aperson who commits buggery is guilty of an offence
and is liable on conviction to imprisonment—
(a) if committed by an adult on a minor, for life;
(b) if committed by an adult on another adult, for
(c) if committed by a minor, for five years.
(2) In this section “buggery” means sexual intercourse
per anum by a male person with a male person or by a male person
with a female person
(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to an act of serious
indecency committed in private between—
(a) a husband and his wife; or
(b) a male person and a female person each of whom
is sixteen years of age or more, both of whom
consent to the commission of the act.
(3) An act of “serious indecency” is an act, other than
sexual intercourse (whether natural or unnatural), by a person
involving the use of the genital organ for the purpose of arousing
or gratifying sexual desire.
Nope, no sexism, homophobia or overt discrimination there. Actually, given my life of late it probably wouldn’t affect me but still.
What else is said you ask? Let me check… Oh wait there are laws that were introduced to placate religious groups. Like India …Oh wait…India is secular…what has T&T done?
There is a Muslim marriage act. That allows…wait..what? A 12 year old girl to be married? Seriously?
8. The age at which a person, being a member of the Muslim
community, is capable of contracting marriage shall be sixteen in
the case of males and twelve in the case of females
However, in the case of an intended marriage between persons
either of whom is under eighteen years of age (not being a widower
or widow), the consent to the marriage, of the father if living or if
the father is dead of the guardian or guardians lawfully appointed
or of one of them, and in case there is no such guardian then of the
mother of the person so under age, and if the mother is dead then
of such other person as may be appointed for the purpose by the
President,shall be certified in writing by the marriage officer before
whom the marriage is contracted upon the certificate ofthe marriage
to be issued in accordance with the provisions of this Act.
The law is here.
Hindus fought for another offensive marriage age. Not quite as awful but still impressively pervy and sexist .
11. (1) The age at which a person, being a member of the
Hindu faith or religion, is capable of contracting marriage shall be
eighteen years in the case of males and fourteen years in the case
(2) Without prejudice to the provisions of subsection (1),
a marriage shall not be solemnised by a Marriage Officer if the
intended husband (not being a widower), is under eighteen years
of age or the intended wife (not being a widow) is under sixteen
years of age unless the consent to the marriage of the party who is
under age by virtue of thissubsection has been given in accordance
with the following provisions of this section, and the consent is
hereby required for the marriage of such party under age.
(3) The required consent may be given by the father of
the party under age, and if the father is dead by the guardian or
guardians appointed or one of them, and in case there is no such
guardian then by the mother of the party so under age, and if the
mother is dead then by such other person as may be appointed for
the purpose by the President.
(4) In case the father, mother, or a guardian whose consent
to a marriage is required under subsection (3) is absent from
Trinidad and Tobago or is unable or refuses to give the consent or
is not of sound mind, the party in whose case consent is required
may apply to the President to appoint a person, being a member of
the Hindu community, to investigate the circumstances of the
intended marriage and if after the investigation it appears to the
person so appointed that there are no reasonable objections to the
intended marriage such person shall so formally declare in writing
and the declaration shall, for the purposes of this Act, be deemed
equivalent to the consent as aforesaid.
Yes, T&T can’t deal with LGBT rights but it is so on the ball for child marriage rights.
Meiling is likely Trinidad & Tobago’s most respected fashion designer and also the mentor of Project Runway Season 9 winner Anya Ayoung Chee. Meiling speaks about Anya and the road she has traveled to reach this happy point in her life.
Interview aired October 31, 2011 on ieTV 1, Trinidad.
Project Runway Season 9 is heading towards the finale and anyone interested in fashion is biting their nails every Thursday night. Here in T&T everyone who isn’t in a coma is following Anya Ayoung-Chee and hoping that she wins. So far she is, in my view , the best by far. If you don’t know who Anya is you are missing out. You can read about her on Wikipedia.
I was honored to be invited by her to her Project Runway viewing party at the Carlton Savannah in T&T this evening. I seldom go out but with such an invitation it was a no-brainer.
Here are some sights and sounds of an amazing evening.
And Anya also spoke about her experiences on Project Runway.
As I spent much of my time hanging out with her amazing Mom I think it is only right that I put her video interview up too.
In fact, Michelle and I were saying that we should make her video interview as popular as Anya’s. I am all over this. I fear I may fail.
And just in case, this was my last interview with Anya and I hope to chat with her again when she wins – and if she doesn’t win – she will have been robbed.
I can say I had the most wonderful time imaginable with Anya and her family – and I love the fact her mom insisted I sit next to her. I had an amazing evening which culminated with a hug from Anya. This was one of the best evenings in a long time.
Thank you Anya.
Krystoff Kissoon of Fatima College winner of the Junior Writer of the Year and winner of the Junior Fiction Prize in the Allen Prize for Young Writers competition. Program aired on ieTV Channel 1, Trinidad on May 24, 2011.
Interview with co-founder of the environmental group Trini Eco Warriors.
One often hears about the Christian religious right and its views on homosexuality and the position of mainstream Islam is fairly obvious too but what of the views of the over one billion Hindus? It seems the complex belief system of Hindus does not offer any easy answer on the subject.
This excellent article in Hinduism Today by Vidyaratha Kissoon takes a rare regional look at the subject in the case of Guyana. It is interesting to note that Trinidad & Tobago also has a sizable Hindu population and recently the Trinidad Express included the thoughts of a local Hindu leader on the matter:
“In response to this, Secretary General of the Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha, Sat Maharaj, said although “the rest of the world is turning upside down to accommodate these people”, Trinidad and Tobago has more important things to address than “the rights of gays and lesbians”.
“We (as a Hindu organisation) recognise that there are these oddities in society that have odd behaviours, but we do not believe that is sufficient grounds to change the laws.
Notwithstanding the idiocly of such local views, the Guyana article notes that there is a diversity of opinion on the matter but many of those voices believe that there is no fundamental conflict between Hinduism and homosexuality:
“But community debate has uncovered a simple truth: there is no unified policy in Hinduism about homosexuality. In general, the matter is ruled by common sense, wisdom and tradition. But tradition can be a fluid concept, widely dependent on regional practices and collective memory; it shifts from generation to generation. One example is the strong influence of prudish British thought on Hindu morals in the last few centuries (see sidebar below).
“Indian culture has always had multiple expressions of gender identity and sexual orientation,” says Pandit Deodat Tillack, priest at the Shri Samayapuran Mariamma Temple. “The major festivals around Lord Aravan and the worship of Bahucharia Mata, called Murgi Mata in Guyana, reflect these views,” he claims. The festivals to Lord Aravan, are a favorite of the third-sex hijra in India, who attend en masse; Lord Krishna is believed to have assumed the form of Mohini to marry Aravan as a reward for his dedication. Bahucharia Mata is a patron Goddess of the hijra community.
Pandit Tillack’s views are echoed by many in Guyana. His colleague Pandit Rajin Balgobind feels that non-heterosexuals, who often question why they were born that way, should recognize that their sexual orientation is part of who they are. “Hindu scriptures do not discriminate against people; we are to be respected as our own decision makers. Everyone, including homosexual people, should lead disciplined lives that fulfill dharma, contribute to the well being of their society and do no harm to anyone.” In Balgobind’s opinion, sexual orientation falls into the category of kama (pleasure), one of the four goals of life, called purusharthas.
Letter from the T&T Humanist Association on the current capital punishment debate in Trinidad & Tobago.