Posts tagged ‘Trinidad & Tobago’

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.

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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 24, 2011

Interview with Colin Robinson of CAISO

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.

February 22, 2011

Ministerial media conference on same sex marriage

This is definitely a first for Trinidad & Tobago. The Minister is clearly a woman of her word – press conference on same sex marriage to he held at the Minister’s office tomorrow.

 

 

February 21, 2011

The Trinidad Express continues its coverage

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.

Read more here.

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.

February 16, 2011

Same sex marriage issue gets raised in Trinidad and Tobago Senate.

Trinidad & Tobago still had old British colonial sodomy laws on the books but strangely, in the pull and tug of a debate on something unrelated, the issue of same sex marriage arose.

From the Trinidad Guardian today:

“Debate on same-sex marriage must start and must be taken throughout the country, Gender Affairs Minister Mary King said yesterday. She made the statement in the Senate during debate on the Statutory Authorities Amendment Bill. Several senators brought up the issue of same-sex marriage where clauses concerning co-habitants were concerned in the bill. King, who noted how the issue of same-sex unions was being dealt with in the UK, said:

“The debate must start and we must ensure that debate is taken throughout the country and when the recommendations come in they will be taken to the Cabinet for decisions.”

Read more here.

 

 

February 9, 2011

CAISO|GSPOTTT – T&T Govt. not sure if it is opposed to killing gay people.

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.

Read more in their Facebook note here.

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.


December 21, 2010

The travesty of a UN vote is now reversed.

In the Caribbean St. Lucia shamelessly voted no to reinserting ‘sexual orientation’ into a resolution condemning extrajudicial killings. Trinidad & Tobago ( shockingly) abstained again while Jamaica, unsuprisingly, also abstained.