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Equality opponents say legalizing gay rights would lead Trinidad and Tobago to disaster

LGBT rights were highly contested during a public consultation on Trinidad and Tobago's future constitution
Gay rights campaigner and lawyer Maurice Tomlinson says Trinidad and Tobago must not 'let basic human rights to be hijacked by a set of narrow minded, bigoted religious fundamentalists'
Scott Nunn

During the third meeting of a consultation on Trinidad and Tobago's constitution, calls for decriminalizing homosexuality and enshrining LGBT rights were strongly opposed.

Opponents of equality such a move would lead the country to disaster and an 'end of the human race'.

At the meeting on 10 March, the Trinidad Express daily reported that an unnamed man called for enshrining women's and LGBT rights in the Caribbean nation's consitution.

He also suggested that the new constitution should include articles on reproductive health and remove articles relating to the 'supremacy of God'.

Apostle Vernon Duncan, senior pastor of Divine Encounter Fellowship Ministries International, objected saying that rights must be 'right' and noted that while gays claim marriage is their right, people who practise bestiality and paedophilia may also claim that is their 'right'.

He noted the nation was 'doing well' and 'we cannot afford to be under the judgment of God'.

Attendee Rachel Nyack also objected to LGBT rights warning the country would 'be judged' if such laws were passed.

She described homosexuality as 'being against natural order and God's order'.

She pointed out that if the 'entire society became homosexuals' there would be 'no human race in two generations because they cannot reproduce'.

She also called for a clamping down on the sex trade, pointing out that prostitutes were walking the streets and not being arrested, and for a return to corporal punishment.

Another attendee, Christopher Perreira, stated that 'We need to keep God to be guided' saying legalizing homosexuality would 'infringe' on his 'right' to teach his child about 'morality'.

Maurice Tomlinson, a leading gay Jamaican activist who is suing the government of Trinidad and Tobago over its entry ban against homosexuals, commented on the constitutional consultation proceedings: 'The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (Trinidad) has some of the most regressive human rights legislation in the world, especially when it comes to LGBT rights.

'The country’s immigration act bans the entry of homosexuals (along with many other marginalized groups, such as the disabled), and both male and female same-gender intimacy is illegal.

'Trinidadians also face up to 25 years in prison for even private consensual same-sex acts; while these laws are rarely enforced, they clearly stigmatize members of the LGBT community and unnecessarily complicate vital HIV and AIDS programming.

'Trinidad is an important member of the Commonwealth and is therefore bound by the new Commonwealth Charter signed by the Queen, which confirms the right to non-discrimination on “other grounds”.

'Such grounds as well as international treaties to which it is signatory, have repeatedly been interpreted in international jurisprudence to include sexual orientation.

'It is therefore commendable that Trinidad is holding this important public consultation on the revision to its constitution.

'However, it would be tragic if the people of Trinidad allowed their constitution, which is meant to allow all citizens to claim their basic human rights, to be hijacked by a set of narrow minded, bigoted religious fundamentalists, as happened in Jamaica'. 

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