Mon | Oct 15, 2018

T&T High Court strikes down buggery law - Local gay advocates welcome ruling

Published:Friday | April 13, 2018 | 12:00 AMRomario Scott/Gleaner Writer

Local gay rights advocates have welcomed the decision of the Trinidad and Tobago Constitutional Court to strike down the decades-old buggery laws. High Court judge Devindra Rampersad handed down the ruling yesterday in the case brought by LGBT activist Jason Jones in March 2017.

In reacting to the ruling, Javion Nelson, executive director of JFLAG wrote: "Great news coming out of Trinidad & Tobago, where the buggery law has been struck down. (It is) lovely to see evidence of progress across the region. Commendations to Jason Jones and colleagues from organisations there on their success."

Noted Jamaican gay rights activist Maurice Tomlinson simply tweeted, "love wins".

 

'Is Jamaica next?'

 

Amid the celebrations and the widespread discussion on social media among gay advocates around the world, many asked the provoking question: "Is Jamaica next?"

The Trinidad and Tobago High Court declared that Sections 13 and 16 of the [Sexual Offences Act] were unconstitutional, illegal, null, void, invalid, and of no effect to the extent that these laws criminalise any acts constituting consensual sexual conduct between adults, the judge remarked as the ruling was made.

"The conclusion is not an assessment or denial of the religious belief of anyone. This court is not qualified to do so. However, this conclusion is a recognition that the beliefs of some, by definition, are not the beliefs of all, and, in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, all are protected and are entitled to be protected under the Constitution," Rampersad argued.

Jones argued that Section 13 of the country's Sexual Offences Act, which criminalises anal sex, is unconstitutional because it violates his right to privacy, liberty, and freedom of expression.

In reacting to the ruling, Jones said: "What I think the judge pointed out was that here, 'every creed and race find an equal place'. I think we must all come together now and embrace each other in love and respect."

The final ruling will be handed down in three months to preserve the need for consent. The court will also meet to hear whether the offending sections should be struck down in their entirety and to deal with the issue of cost.

romario.scott@gleanerjm.com