As we continue to pay close attention to LGBTQI issues and related matters on the sister island of Trinidad the developments there are note worthy.
Here is an interesting Editorial from the Trinidad Express Newspaper as appearing in November 8th 2010 edition.
Last Friday, the people of Trinidad and Tobago celebrated the lovely festival of Divali. No longer confined to the Hindu community, Divali has become both a symbol of the diversity of this country and a unifying event.
Divali demonstrates how this society has increasingly come not merely to tolerate difference, but to appreciate and welcome it. Rightly so, for it is the wide diversity of faiths, customs, histories, ethnicities and talents that has given this country its cultural richness and creativity.
There are blind spots, however, in this inclusive, enlightened outlook.
Last week, at a meeting in St Maarten of the Pan Caribbean Partnerships Against HIV and Aids, Dr Denzil Douglas, Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis, led a call for the removal of laws that discriminate against homosexuality.
These laws are not only significant in the context of HIV/Aids, which for a number of years now has been spreading faster among the heterosexual community.
This society still bears the scars of generations of legal and social discrimination and prejudice against people whose only crime was to have been born black, or Indian, or female, or to have been brought up in a faith other than certain officially approved forms of Christianity. Much of the history of this country is the story of the long, hard-fought struggle against such oppression.
When it comes to those whose sexuality differs from that of the mainstream, however, different rules apply. The Equal Opportunities Act, passed a decade ago, outlawed discrimination on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, origin or religion. There is an anomaly, however, which cries out for correction. Parliament explicitly omitted sexual orientation: that is, the lawmakers ruled that it is not illegal to deprive a fellow citizen of his or her fundamental rights if he or she is gay.
More recently, the People’s National Movement government produced a gender policy proposing to liberalise official approaches to sexual orientation, but then withdrew these proposed changes after objections from some religious groups.
It is ironic that some of those who practise faiths which preach brotherly love and compassion should choose at times to turn their backs on this principle and exercise their beliefs selectively.
Earlier this year, however, Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa set a godly example for his fellow believers and for humanity when he condemned anti-gay legislation.
“No one,” he said, “should be excluded from our love, our compassion or our concern because of race or gender, faith or ethnicity—or because of their sexual orientation.”
Archbishop Desmond Tutu comes from a country that, like this one, learned the hard way what evils arise from the exclusion and injustice once enshrined in its laws. Such discrimination has no place in a society that aims for freedom, equality and fair treatment for all its citizens.