Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 3rd 2013 Contents A6
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for MAY 02nd 2013
A bold declaration by a young man that he is gay
and wants gay rights included in the new Consti-
tution drew criticism from other contributors at
the constitutional reform consultation in San Fer-
nando on Wednesday night.
His forthrightness did not sit well with several
people, who argued that the lifestyle went against
religious teachings and would be to the detriment of
Standing in front of a packed room at the National
Academy for Performing Arts South Campus, Raynia
Seegobin said he wanted equal rights and freedom
for gay men and women enshrined in the Constitution.
He asked that the word sexual orientation be includ-
ed in the section of the Constitution which states
that there shall be no discrimination by reason of
race, origin, colour, religion, sex, in the fundamental
human rights and freedoms of citizens.
Seegobin, who was accompanied by other gay men,
said no longer should he go to a job interview and
worry that he might not be hired because he ges-
ticulated too much or did not conform to "the ideal
image of what a man should be."
Being gay, he said, must also not deprive him from
receiving state benefits.
Some 3,500 youths in T&T are living with
HIV/Aids and global statistics show young women
between 15 and 24 have an HIV infection twice that
of young men.
So said Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister
Rodger Samuel, who spoke at the national youth sym-
posium at Capital Plaza, Port-of-Spain, yesterday.
It focused on the theme "Youth as agents of change"
in the national response to HIV and Aids in T&T.
"There are statistics that all of you should be aware
of and globally in 2010 young people between 15 and
24 account for 42 per cent of new HIV infections and
young women are particularily at risk and have infection
rates which are twice as high as those found in young
"Those are the things which we must keep before
our eyes," Samuel added.
He said in rural areas of the country there was a
need to educate the youth as they were still not totally
aware of the danger of the disease.
He said, "In the country approximately 1.3 per cent
of youths 15 to 21 (years) are living with HIV and this
is about $3,500 young people."
"I often have to go into the discourse with the
young people to let them know how serious the sit-
"I know the situation in those rural areas where
sexual promiscuity is high and irresponsibility and
recklessness is very high and every young person has
a baby or two," Samuel added.
Saying the Government had not given up the fight
to ensure there were no new infections with the
disease, Samuel said that was also critical in raising
More, however, was needed to ensure there were
greater ties between the Government and various
stakeholders, he said.
"We need to strengthen the ties with our stake-
holders and young people to ensure the capacity of
our young people is augmented to take the approach
that is youth-led, friendly and ensuring we promote
healthy sexual attitudes and practices," Samuel said.
He said that could only be achieved by creating an
enabling environment where youths could have access
to resources, including comprehensive and affordable
health services and treatment and care which were
free from stigma and discrimination.
It was also important, Samuel added, for young
people to become empowered so they could lead
meaningful lives and contribute to society.
T&T young people
living with HIV/Aids
Immediately after his contribution,
Azan Baksh stood up, declaring he
was a Muslim and as a Muslim he
wanted to be able to exercise his reli-
gious right to have four wives.
Laughter erupted from the audience
but the chairman, Errol Fabien, said
Baksh was making a serious suggestion
and joked: "Why only Muslims must
have four wives?"
La Romaine resident Joseph Har-
bajan said he had gay friends and they
should be loved and appreciated and
not treated as freaks. "However," he
said, "it would be very dangerous to
change the law about gays."
Former minister speaks
Former government minister Subhas
Panday said laws governing party
funds must be passed.
"There is no law governing the
behaviour of the party."
Anything short of that, he said,
would be "spinning top in mud. I sell
toolum when I raise money for the
party," added Panday.
Former minister in the Ministry of National Security and senator, Subhas Panday, makes a point during his contribution at Wednesday
night's constitutional reform consultation in San Fernando. PHOTO: KRISTIAN DE SILVA
Gay youth calls for
rights in Constitution
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