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Ayanna mum on buggery law
Minister of State in the Office of
the Prime Minister Ayanna Web-
ster-Roy said yesterday that she
was not authorised to say what
is Government’s position on bug-
gery laws and same-sex marriages
came two days after several LG-
BTQI groups protested in front
of the Parliament building, as
they called on Government to
protect them and for evangelical
churches—led by T&T Cause—to
stop the hate and fear-mongering
they were spreading against gays.
T&T Cause appealed to Govern-
ment to keep the country’s bug-
gery laws, as the High Court is set
to give a ruling today on a lawsuit
filed by gay activist Jason Jones
who is challenging the country’s
buggery laws as discriminatory
Scores of people waving rain-
bow-coloured flags, accompanied
by moko jumbies, are expected
to converge at Woodford Square
today ahead of the court’s ruling,
according to the executive direc-
tor of the Coalition Advocating
for the Inclusion of Sexual Orien-
tation Colin Robinson.
Robinson said he cannot pre-
dict the court’s ruling. However,
win or lose, Robinson said the LG-
BTQI community will continue to
feel a sense of empowerment. If
Jones loses the matter, Robinson
said he may appeal.
“We are going to continue to
press Parliament to protect peo-
ple from discrimination, in law.
Even if Jones wins the case that
would not protect anyone from
Chairman of T&T Cause Bishop
Keith Ramdass of Redemption
Worship Centre said whatever the
decision by the court, it cannot be
considered a victory for anyone.
“We are thankful for a good
judgment. If for some reason, the
Government loses the case they
must be prepared in a strong way
to appeal,” said Ramdass, who
will be present in court.
“We don’t have an issue with
the court but with the Govern-
ment,” he said.
Last month, Webster-Roy laid
the National Policy on Gender
and Development in Parliament
with a Green paper for further
The policy on the Office of the
Prime Minister’s website states
that T&T is committed to building
a nation that is free of gender dis-
crimination, based on principles
of human rights and guarantee-
ing equal access to progress for
It states that T&T, as a member
state of the United Nations, has
signed and ratified various in-
ternational instruments, treaties
and conventions which mandate
member States to put in place the
mechanisms needed to eliminate
all forms of gender-based dis-
crimination and ensure equality
and human dignity for men and
woman, boys and girls.
The Government has a
long-standing commitment to
eliminating gender-based discrim-
ination, despite the persistence of
discrimination and gender stere-
otyping in some laws, traditions,
customs and religious practices
which prevent women and men’s
full enjoyment of rights and equal
participation in national develop-
Webster-Roy said the public has
been invited to make comments
on the policy. Already comments
have been coming in, she said.
“When we did it, we gave them
a three to six months period. If we
do not get any feedback from the
public it would be laid as the final
document. If there is anything
significant we have to change it
would be taken into consideration
based on the feedback given.”
Asked what was Government’s
position on buggery laws and
same-sex marriage, Webster-Roy
had no comment.
“I have no comment on that,”
When the issue of Monday’s
LGBTQI’s protest was raised
with Webster-Roy, who holds
the portfolio of gender and child
affairs, she said she was not in
Cabinet “and I don’t have a posi-
tion on Government on those is-
sues because I haven’t discussed
it with them.”
She said if she comments it
would be expressing her personal
opinion which would be unfair to
the public because it would not be
an official policy position.
Gay rights activist Jason Jones.
PICTURE SHIRLEY BAHADUR
In the lawsuit, Jason Jones is challenging the
sections 13 and 16 of the Sexual Offences
Act, which criminalises buggery and serious
indecency even between consenting adults.
Jones is claiming that the long-standing
legislation contravenes his constitutional
rights to privacy and freedom of thought
and expression in addition to being in direct
contradiction to this country’s international
human rights obligations.
Jones’ lawyers are seeking to bypass the
“saving clause” feature of the Constitution
which precludes courts from striking down
and reviewing legislation which were in
existence when the Constitution was drafted
and that have been marginally changed since.
In response, the Office of the Attorney
General denied that there were material
changes to the legislation except for an
increase in the maximum sentence for
buggery from 20 to 25 years.
It also submitted that Jones could only
speak to the effect of the legislation on sexual
activity between consenting homosexual
men, such as himself but not on behalf of
women, minors and the disabled, who are
all protected against buggery under the
Several religious group were allowed to
present submissions in the case.
Jones’ lawsuit is one of several landmark
cases filed by Caribbean LGBTQI activists
challenging regional homophobic laws.
In 2016, Jamaican lawyer 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 by
their immigration officials.
Later that year, Belize’s Supreme Court
struck down that country’s sodomy laws, after
a case similar to Jones’ was filed by a local
However, unlike T&T, Belize did not have a
saving clause protecting its legislation from a
ABOUT THE CASE
Minister of State in the Office of the
Prime Minister Ayanna Webster-Roy.
Supporters of the LGBTQI community during Monday’s protest, calling on the Government to repeal certain sections
of the Sexual Offences Act outside the Parliament Building in Port-of-Spain.
PICTURE ABRAHAM DIAZ
“We are going
Even if Jones
wins the case
that would not
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4.9643 5.2255 5.6436
8.9269 9.3967 10.1358
7.8050 8.2158 8.8731
2.2339 2.4281 2.6248
2.7166 ******** 3.5196
for APRIL 11, 2018
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