Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 27th 2015 Contents Iam writing today to support the
LBGTI community in their hopes,
raised every election amidst plat-
form speeches about a better future.
These hopes are for what others
already have---equality and freedom
from discrimination. The kind of
rights enslaved Africans and inden-
tured Indians dreamed of and
fought for, the kind of rights those
Africans and Indians who became
our post-independence shipmasters
now deny, forgetting history then
and charting us on the wrong side
of history now.
What can our political leaders say
to these members of our families
and nation who are not safe to be
themselves? How much are our
political leaders their leaders too? Or
is it okay to lead the nation for the
benefit of some, and to simply defer
sharing that experience of citizen-
ship to all?
When asked about her position
on ending discrimination on the
basis of sexual orientation by, for
example, amending the Equal
Opportunity Act, approving the
National Gender Policy or removing
draconian provisions in the Chil-
dren s Act that legalise life impris-
onment of young people engaging
in same-sex experiences, Kamla
2015 said, "Let the people decide."
When asked, PNM leader, Dr
Keith Rowley said the party never
discussed the issue, though that is
not exactly true. Both leaders
decided that there are no political
gains to be had in pursuing full
equality amongst citizens. Suffer on
is their message to those asking.
Imagine it is 1815, and enslaved
Africans are asking those leaders in
power for the same rights that they
have. Imagine them saying, we ve
never discussed it. Maybe later.
Imagine it is 1915, and indentured
Indians are asking country leaders
for equal citizenship and they
respond, let the plantation owners
decide, for giving you full citizen-
ship is too controversial right now.
Maybe one day. Suffer and wait.
Imagine it is 2015 and those
African and Indian leaders are now
playing the mas of colonial masters,
able to deny rights and willing to
do so, while those of you who have
rights and enjoy full equality, quote
religious text or tradition or family
belief, to get on happily with
Every election is a chance to cre-
ate more inclusion, to lead in ways
that are principled rather than sim-
ply popular, to articulate a vision for
another generation to truly under-
stand, evermore, what it means to
be one people, one nation.
In frustration, voting citizens in
the LBGTI community have created
their own manifesto, one where
non-discrimination isn t negotiable
or denied. Just six of the 12 actions
they call on are for:
1. All national officials to vocally
support inclusion and dignity for
all, including LGBTI members of
the national community, and
denounce discrimination based on
sexual orientation and gender.
2. Pilot a life skills programme
for LGBTI young people made
homeless by discrimination.
3. Lower to 16 the direct eligibili-
ty age for social welfare for young
people abused by their families.
4. Implement school-based ini-
tiatives and policy that prevent and
protect young people from violence
and bullying in educational settings.
5. Repeal paragraphs 20(1)(c),
20(2)(c), and 20(3)(c) of the Chil-
dren Act of 2012, which came into
force on May 18, 2015 and specifi-
cally target young people of the
same sex for criminalisation and
life imprisonment for sexual explo-
ration with each other.
6. Equip and charge the Victim
and Witness Support Unit to sup-
port LGBTI complainants of
domestic and bias violence.
Representation, school tolerance,
state services for victims and chil-
dren s care are what citizens are
saying they hope to vote for. These
are not unreasonable dreams for
inclusion. Of Keith and Kamla, who
will first stop repeating, "suffer
There are many issues in this
election, with the economy, crime,
corruption and the environment
being the most important. Yet,
these issues of sexuality and gender
are ones that show whether our
leaders understand what it means to
lead us all, equally, regardless of the
political costs because the costs will
not be ones citizens are instead
made to bear. Regardless of race or
religion, this is a value we should
I listen to rallies, read manifestos
and see worn words without com-
mitment to full equality. Why vote
for such leadership when our hopes
matter so little to them in 2015?
Thursday, August 27, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
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DIARY OF A MOTHERING WORKER
'LET THE PEOPLE DECIDE'
NOT GOOD ENOUGH
Newly-appointed Ambassador of Japan Mitsuhiko Okada,
left, presents his credentials to President Anthony Carmona
at the Office of the President, St Ann's, last Thursday.
PHOTO: ANDRE ALEXANDER
Traversing the southern areas
like Princes Town, Tabaquite, Na-
parima and San Fernando, one can
see the candidates busy cam-
paigning on walkabouts in their
constituencies accompanied by
large droves of supporters.
Reading in the newspapers and
following on social media other
candidates in Tunapuna, St
Joseph, San Juan/Barataria and
Toco/Sangre Grande it's clear that
they are busy lobbying for votes.
In the constituency of Point Fortin
the candidate is working hard to
motivate supporters with walka-
bouts and public meetings.
In the constituency of Mayaro,
however, the candidate is conspic-
uously absent from the scene.
I have barely seen any cam-
paigning in this constituency; we
are only bombarded with a loud
speaker on a lorry with the voice
of the candidate saying vote for
the Atlantic Power House (who or
what is that I don't know).
Bearing in mind the PNM has
never been able to win the Mayaro
seat, I wonder if Mr Paray is trying
very hard to lose this seat as V
Maharaj made history by losing
the "safe" Eccesville seat in the
2003 local government elections.
Even at the national level, the
party is not engaging in any cam-
paigning in Mayaro---no Monday
night forums, no public meetings,
hardly any activity in this area.
As an ardent UNC supporter I
can't help but wonder if they too
have given up on Mayaro.
Grant Street, Rio Claro
Taking Mayaro for granted
Political scientists and
analysts have so far not
commented on the silent
battle for supremacy
within the PNM. Many
members of the PNM do
not accept Dr Rowley as
their leader and are still
waiting for a genuine
leader, who represents the
"class" of the PNM, to
emerge. They hope the
election results will bring
about this change.
Will Dr Rowley prove
himself to be an accepted
leader? Will Dr Rowley's
PNM be stronger than Mr
Manning's 2010 PNM to
snatch victory from Mrs
Partnership in order to save
himself the ignominy of
being treated the same
way Mr Patrick Manning
was treated on the night of
May 24, 2010?
Mr Patrick Manning
presided over a strong,
united and respected PNM.
He had charisma but the
stars were against him.
Does Dr Rowley possess
the charm of Mr Manning?
Speaking for myself it was
always a pleasure to listen
to and observe the digni-
fied manner of Mr Man-
ning. I am sure many share
my view. Dr Rowley on the other hand
cannot evoke such a response from his
listener. This is Dr Rowley's biggest chal-
T&T has an intelligent electorate who
know what they want for their country.
The results will decide which leader they
prefer. Only time will tell.
Does Dr Rowley have the charm of Mr Manning?
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