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Trinidad and Tobago's High Court decriminalizes gay sex

This overturns a colonial-era law

Trinidad and Tobago's High Court decriminalizes gay sex
The court's decision is history-making | Photo: Unsplash/Joshua Stitt

Trinidad and Tobago has decriminalized gay sex.

The Caribbean nation overturned colonial-era laws that said anyone ‘who commits buggery is guilty of an offense’ today (12 April).

This ruling means now 71 countries in the world criminalize homosexuality.

Jason Jones, in February 2017, filed a landmark lawsuit against the government to overturn Sections 13 and 16 of the Sexual Offenses Act.

The high court today agreed that Section 13, which criminalizes anal sex, was unconstitutional.

Justice Devindra Rampersad stated in his ruling: ‘The court declares that sections 13 and 16 of the [Sexual Offences Act] are 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 ruling says the laws violate Jones’ right to privacy, liberty and freedom of expression.

https://twitter.com/trinijayjay/status/984483296242520066

The opposing side attempted to use a colonial ‘saving clause’, which stated British rules could not be changed after independence.

In the past few weeks, protests and rallies from both sides bombarded the island nation.

A homophobic history

Trinidad and Tobago obtained independence from Britain in 1962. Fourteen years later, in 1976, it became a republic.

Anti-gay laws existed within the nation since its inception.

In 1986, parliament rewrote the Sexual Offences Act, increasing the maximum sentence for sodomy to 10 years in prison. In 2000, they increased it once again to 25 years.

These changes allowed Jones to bring his case forward, as they nullified the ‘saving clause’. Parliament already changed the act, therefore Jones had ground to challenge it.

And now a historic victory

The ruling is a massive win for all the LGBTI people of Trinidad and Tobago.

Jones’ family originally disowned him after he came out as gay. This then forced him to migrate to the UK.

‘I don’t wish to shove a gay agenda down [the public’s] throat or attack your morals, religion or spirituality,’ Jones said.

‘I am doing this for the betterment of our nation, and for our feature generations.’

His long-fought battle has finally come to an end in victory.

Trinidad and Tobago’s Attorney General, Faris al-Rawi, said: ‘Our society has changed significantly in its view on tolerating homosexuality, and radically so within the last generation.’

See also

Gay Bermuda tourism CEO: LGBTI boycott ‘counter-intuitive’ after marriage equality reversal

 


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