Two months ago Trinidad and Tobago decriminalized consensual gay sexwhich was previously punishable with up to 25 years in prison. While the news has invigorated LGBT rights advocates, the picture for gay rights in the region is still far from ideal: Same-sex relations are still illegal in nine Caribbean countries, all of which are part of the British Commonwealth. And while laws are not always enforced, they have a chilling effect on the local LGBT community, which can often face harassment, discrimination and even violence.
Gay sex between consenting men in Trinidad and Tobago could soon be decriminalised following a court judgment that campaigners said might spark similar decisions elsewhere in the Caribbean. A final judgment on how to deal with the sections of the act is expected in July, rights groups and local media said. In an online campaign, he said he wanted to challenge laws inherited while the country was under British rule.
It is a resounding win for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender LGBT activists in the country and in particular for Jason Jones, the claimant in the case. Jones, who challenged the law, is an openly gay citizen of Trinidad and Tobago who left the country because of severe discrimination on the basis of his sexual orientation. He visits the country from time to time and contended in his lawsuit that the buggery laws forced him to forego consensual sexual relations with a male partner or risk imprisonment.
Thomson Reuters Foundation - Gay sex between consenting men in Trinidad and Tobago could soon be decriminalised following a court judgment that campaigners said might spark similar decisions elsewhere in the Caribbean. A final judgment on how to deal with the sections of the act is expected in July, rights groups and local media said. The case was brought in by Jason Jones, an activist for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender LGBT issues who lives in Britain but was born in Trinidad and Tobago.
Households headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for the same rights and benefits as that of opposite-sex couples. In Aprilthe Trinidad and Tobago High Court declared the country's buggery law unconstitutional, as it infringed on the rights of LGBT citizens and criminalised consensual sexual acts between adults. The law stipulated that those found guilty of buggery would be sentenced to 25 years in prison, while other sexual acts such as oral sex carried a 5-year sentence.
Violence and discrimination continued towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex LGBTI people, and women and girls. Abuse of children was a concern. Trinidad retained the mandatory death penalty for murder.
The decision has sparked a backlash in the Caribbean nation. Photo by Rachael Espinet. Last week, hundreds of members of the LGBTI community and their allies gathered outside the Trinidad and Tobago High Court and Parliament to show their pride and support of striking down the sodomy clause.
In FebruaryLGBTQ advocate Jason Jones filed suit against the government of Trinidad and Tobago to nullify Section 13 and Section 16 of the penal code, claiming that they were unconstitutional and a violation of his right to privacy and freedom of expression. The case garnered international attention, and provoked protests by local anti-equality activists, and support from LGBTQ advocates and allies. Earlier this week, pro-equality Trinidadians, including many prominent local actors and comedians, held a demonstration outside Parliament calling for equality, love and acceptance in advance of the ruling.
According to sources, homosexuals are prohibited from entering Trinidad and Tobago under immigration laws ibid. Sources indicate that homophobia is still present GlobalGayz 28 Aug. According to a article by GlobalGayz, a travel and culture website about LGBT life in countries around the world ibid. According to the same source, "[t]here are numerous gay events within Carnival masquerade but they are not publicly advertised" ibid.