Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : Jannuary 7th 2017 Contents A6 news
Sunday, January 7, 2018
On his birthday in 2014, Akil
Thomas was stabbed 13 times by a
man he met on Facebook and left
Thomas, who openly belonged
to this country's lesbian, gay, trans-
gender, queer and intersex (LG-
BTQI) community, was lured to the
attack by a man who befriended
him online a year earlier.
They got to know each other on-
line but had never actually met in
Then on Thomas' 26th birthday
the man invited him to a night time
Around 8.30 pm, while they were
chatting on the shore, the duo were
ambushed by a group of men.
Thomas ran into the water and
began to swim in an attempt to es-
cape the attack.
He remembered the man, who he
considered a friend, that he left on
the shore and looked back for him.
Then he realised the men and the
attackers were all accomplices.
Realising he was set-up, Thomas
began to panic.
The men chased and caught him,
and then beat, robbed and stabbed
The man who he thought was his
friend participated in the attack.
The reason for the attack was
Thomas was stabbed six times to
the back, two to the chest, two in
the arms, two in the neck and one
on the right side of his head, close
to the temple.
One of the stabs punctured his
Thomas played dead and the men
He managed to make his way to
a major roadway and was assisted
to a nearby hospital by a passer-by.
Thomas survived the attack and
reported the matter to the police.
The perpetrators were arrested
and taken before the court.
However, when the main suspect
was granted bail he would further
terrorise Thomas by standing oppo-
site his workplace and just stare at
him without saying a word.
Thomas feared for his life.
He fled the country and sought
Seeking asylum in another coun-
try is an option that several mem-
bers of this country's LGBTQI
community have sought because
the fear of attack is a reality that
many of them face.
Victims of homophobic
violence on a daily basis
According to recent research con-
ducted by the Friends For Life (FFL)
group, 100 per cent of respondents
to a survey stated that they or peo-
ple close to them were victims of
homophobic violence on at least
That homophobic violence in-
cluded being raped, robbed, ver-
bally abused or physically attacked,
For the last 20 years, FFL has of-
fered friendship, support and coun-
selling to LGBTQI people in this
The Sunday Guardian visited the
group's of ice in Belmont on Friday
to discuss the issues affecting the
LGBTQI community here.
Inside the building was the LG-
BTQI pride flag.
There we met Luke Sinnette, Es-
wick Padmore and Kerwyn Jordan.
Last year, FFL embarked on a
project to compile data on the is-
sues which affect the daily lives on
the LGBTQI population in T&T.
"The objectives of the study were
to understand the daily experiences
of the LGBTQI community in Trini-
dad and Tobago," Sinnette said.
Sinnette, a social worker, said all
the information that was accessible
n Continues on Page A7
FLASHBACK: Akil Thomas at the
Port-of-Spain General Hospital in
2014 recovering from injuries
sustained during a stabbing attack.
PICTURE RHONDOR DOWLAT
In Trinidad and Tobago anal sex is
prohibited according to Section 13
of the Sexual Offences Act 1986.
Anyone found guilty of it can face
the possibility of 25 years in prison.
Last year, Trinidad-born gay rights
activist Jason Jones sued the State
over this country's homophobic
In the lawsuit, Jones is challenging
Sections 13 and 16 of the Sexual
Offences Act, which criminalises
buggery and serious indecency even
between consenting adults.
In 2016, Jamaican Maurice
Tomlinson challenged T&T and
Belize's immigration laws which
allow for refusal of entry to regional
homosexuals visitors. While
the Caribbean Court of Justice
(CCJ) dismissed his case, both
governments admitted that the
laws were not enforced. Section 8
of the Immigration Act bars entry to
homosexuals, describing them as a
In August 2012, then prime
minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar
promised to end discrimination
against the LGBTQI community in
the proposed national gender policy.
Persad-Bissessar made the
statement in a private letter to Lance
Price, the executive director of the
Kaleidoscope Trust, an NGO based in
the UK which campaigns globally for
LGBTQI rights and diversity.
Persad-Bissessar's letter to
Price was in response to one he
wrote to her complaining about
T&T's immigration law and the
Sexual Offences Act, which he said
discriminated against homosexuals.
The matter has not been tackled
T&T SUED OVER HOMOPHOBIC LAWS
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