The Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago is set to decriminalize homosexuality following a judge’s ruling on Thursday that the laws are unconstitutional.
A victory was scored yesterday for the LGBTQI community, which is now celebrating a landmark Supreme Court ruling which has overturned this country’s sodomy law, deeming it unconstitutional.
Justice Devindra Rampersad had been asked by Jason Jones – a Trinidad-born openly gay man – to determine whether the State had the constitutional authority to criminalise sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex.
He ruled that Jones’ dignity and basic human rights were taken away by a state-sanctioned threat of prosecution and persecution because he was homosexual.
In his 58-page written decision, Rampersad said Jones has been treated differently to heterosexuals because of his sexual orientation and the manner in which he expresses his love and affection.
The judge also disagreed with the State’s argument that Jones’ case was not about homosexuality, adding that the retention of the law had “everything to do with homosexuality and the colonial abhorrence to the practice.”
He added that the law “obviously remains” as a statement by the State against homosexuality “since there seems to be no other purpose.”
Section 13 of the country’s Sexual Offenses Act states that a person who engages in “buggery” — another term for anal sex — could face up to 25 years in prison. Section 16 states that an individual who “commits an act of serious indecency” — defined as an act “other than sexual intercourse” involving the “use of the genital organ for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire” —could face 5 years in prison. A final ruling on exactly what will happen to Sections 13 and 16 will be made in July.
Activists beaten after High Court demonstration
There have been at least four reported instances of pro LGBTQI activists being physically assaulted by assailants after their demonstration on the steps of the High Court today.
Gay rights activist Rudolph Hanamji told Newsday that one female activist was badly beaten while going to the parking lot near Woodford Square this afternoon.
According to Hanamji, the assault came after a confrontation between activists and some followers of the Jamaat al-Muslimeen on the steps of the Hall of Justice and said while members were concerned for their safety, they will not be deterred and remain firm in the support of the High Court’s ruling.
Despite the incident Hanamji commended officers of the Guard and Emergency Branch who dispersed crowds and defused confrontations between both sides.