Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : February 13th 2014 Contents B15
Thursday, February 13, 2014 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
There are people in the UK who
are wary of coming to the
Caribbean because of its reputa-
tion for homophobia.
Recently, a world map was pub-
lished online with countries where
homosexuality is illegal marked in
red. There were a few pockets: the
Middle East, parts of Africa and
these paradise islands.
It seems ludicrous that such an
idyll can still produce hate of any
kind, let alone hate inspired by
other people s love. Men loving
other men and women loving other
women. It doesn t fit with the ele-
ments the modern Caribbean
brands itself with---freedom, equal-
I ve never researched Bob Mar-
ley s views on homosexuality. I
don t want to know. If he was
homophobic, would that mean I d
have to stop listening to his
records? I don t want to imagine
that Bob, with his redemption
songs about getting together and
feeling all right, could have hate
for anybody. Unlike Buju Banton
and, more comically, Shabba
In 1994, when the Buju Banton
song Boom Bye Bye was banned
in England, Shabba appeared on
a music talk show. When asked if
he was a Buju Banton fan, he made
what was possibly his worst PR
move ever, forgot that he wasn t
supposed to be homophobic on
"Most definitely," Ranks growled,
"if you forfeit the law of God
almighty you deserve crucifixion."
But Ranks, having dug his trench,
was determined to bury himself.
He further said, "I live by the
concept of the Bible. And the Bible
say man must multiply. Multipli-
cation is done by a male and a
Clearly having offended a great
many people, his records never
sold successfully again in England.
Boom Bye Bye went further than
homophobia. It reduced gays and
lesbians in Jamaica to the lowest
status in society, worthy of death,
creating a climate of constant fear
for gays and lesbians. At Pier One,
Montego Bay in 2008, I saw the
whole club put their trigger fingers
in the air and sing, "Boom bye bye
in a batty boy head." It confirmed
a sickening truth I didn t want to
believe. Even the girl I was dancing
with was doing it. I left the club.
When a young, gay British-
Jamaican asked if he should visit
Jamaica and if it was safe, I had
to tell him that story.
"You Brits love your gays," a
Trini friend said. We do. We re
precious about them and very pro-
tective. I think a lot of Trinis love
their gays too. They re just not as
comfortable admitting it. There s
an element of school playground
sniggering, machismo to live up to.
Hearing Colin Robinson of the gay
rights organisation, CAISO, eloquently
tell the Constitutional Reform Com-
mission about his wish that within his
lifetime he might see "people like me"
afforded dignity and legal protection,
felt like listening to footage from the
1960s US civil rights struggle. Nobody
should have to fight for their rights in
Several members of the public stood
up in support of gay rights and
denounced the commission s cop-out.
The draft report published last month
let down the LGBT community by fail-
ing to say the rewritten Constitution
would protect same-sex relationships.
Instead, it said further discussion was
needed because some people opposed
it. Human rights issues must be gov-
ernment-led. If there aren t significant
numbers of people prepared to demand
change, the government must lead the
People will get used to it, some more
slowly than others, perhaps. One man
told the commission, "Sexual orienta-
tion: what place does it have in a Con-
stitution? They are free to indulge in
their unnatural, biological behaviour in
their home, they have a right to hold
office and even the right to be called
honourable, they even have a right to
display themselves in public, what more
do they want?"
Another said, "The sodomites, for
that s what the Bible calls them, are
free to practise their sodomy in the
privacy of their own homes, there s no
law against it..."
But that s exactly the point. There
is a law against it. And while those laws
remain, young men, like a friend from
south, contemplate suicide rather than
tell their parents they are gay.
I wanted to ask the two haters how
exactly "sodomy" affects their lives,
but I was rendered speechless that I
live in a country where somebody could
pour forth such bile without being
chased from the auditorium. Their
words attempted to shame Robinson
and "people like him." But the shame
is all theirs. And God, if he exists, would
be ashamed of them and their mis-
guided notion that God hates gays.
Doesn t God love everybody? Isn t that
the whole point?
God would be proud of the priest,
Fr Stephen Geofroy, who spoke in sup-
port of gay rights, although it would
have carried more weight a year ago.
Now that Pope Francis has voiced his
support, it s easier for others to follow.
But one can t expect the Catholic
church to lead on the issue: historically
it s one of the worst persecutors of gays,
whilst, ironically, sodomising thousands
of young boys at the same time.
The priest made front page news.
Newsday even went so far as to say
Gays Must Not Suffer in its headline.
Wow, have they just realised?
It s a desolate state when a country
like T&T, which prides itself on toler-
ance, togetherness and modernity,
should be stuck in a mediaeval quagmire
it doesn t seem to know how to pull
itself out of. Pulling itself out of the
swamp and into the 21st century is so
simple it beggars belief (not "buggers,"
that s illegal.)
Writing these words shouldn t be
necessary. Make the change, Prime
Minister, that you promised in 2012.
Make the change, Parliament, Senate,
judiciary, UNC, PNM, COP. Enshrine
equality in the Constitution and remove
the archaic colonial law.
The Buggery Law in England dates
back to 1533. It took until 1965 for
homosexuality to be decriminalised
in England and Wales and, bizarrely,
until 1981 in Scotland. I don t know
why Scotland dragged its heels and
why T&T continues to do so. The
nation has nothing to fear by joining
the modern world.
Time for T&T to join the modern world
Colin Robinson of Caiso
speaking at the
consultation on Tuesday.
A newly-released e-mail shows that
11 days after the killing of terror leader
Osama bin Laden in 2011, the US mil-
itary s top special operations officer
ordered subordinates to destroy any
photographs of the al-Qaeda founder s
corpse or turn them over to the CIA.
The e-mail was obtained under a
freedom of information request by the
conservative legal group Judicial Watch.
The document, released Monday by
the group, shows that Adm William
McRaven, who heads the US Special
Operations Command, told military
officers on May 13, 2011 that photos of
bin Laden s remains should have been
sent to the CIA or already destroyed.
Bin Laden was killed by a special
operations team in Pakistan on May 2,
McRaven s order to purge the bin
Laden material came ten days after The
Associated Press asked for the photos
and other documents under the US
Freedom of Information Act.
Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton
said Monday that the e-mail "is a
smoking gun, revealing both contempt
for the rule of law and the American
people s right to know." (AP)
E-mail shows effort to
shield bin Laden photos
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