Christian campaign to keep Trinidad's buggery law fails

Christian campaign to keep Trinidad's buggery law fails April 14, 2018

The efforts of gay activist Jason Jones, above, to have the buggery law in his native Trinidad and Tobago struck down resulted in an important court judgment this week that could affect other Caribbean countries that have anti-LGBT legislation.
High Court judge Devindra Rampersad ruled in favour of Jones who mounted a legal challenge to the law in March 2017.
Rampersad’s ruling that Sections 13 and 16 of the Sexual Offences Act – a hangover from British colonial days – were unconstitutional came as a blow to Christian groups who have vigorously campaigned to leave the law unchanged.

Anti-LGBT groups began ramping up their efforts in advance of the case and one Christian hate group – “Concerned Citizens for T&T” – called for a demonstration outside the parliament building.
The header on Concerned Citizens for T&T’s Facebook page
Another faction led by Pentecostal ministers argued that if the buggery laws were repealed, same-sex marriage will swiftly follow.
A spokesperson for T&T Cause said:

Same sex marriage is a cancer. We must keep the buggery laws, if it is removed it is a slippery slope to same-sex marriage.

Members of the group argued that if Jones were to win, it would put the rights of gay people ahead of the rights of heterosexuals which, they maintain:

Are superior.

Said Vice-President of T&T Cause Bishop Victor Gill, above, of the Redemption Christian Centre:

We are saying having rights and being right are two different things. You must respect the rights of others.

He labelled  homosexuality as:

 Unnatural  and illegal. As the LGBTQI  … whatever other letter, it is not a human right. It is a human wrong.

There is a recent televised interview with the moron here.
But the judge said:

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.

According to The Gleaner, noted Jamaican gay rights activist Maurice Tomlinson simply tweeted, “love wins”.
Reacting to the ruling, Javion Nelson, Executive Director of the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG) 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.

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

In launching his legal challenge in February 2017, Jones said:

I am doing this for the betterment of our nation, and for our future generations.

LGBT rights groups on the islands insist allowing for personal freedoms won’t interfere with religious beliefs.
Said Colin Robinson, Director of The Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation (CAISO).

Colin Robinson

Faith groups will be under no obligation to change their teachings about moral sexuality within their congregations because of the court ruling. Even if same-sex marriage eventually became legalised in Trinidad and Tobago  … such unions would be a civil matter. Nowhere in the world where same-sex marriages are recognised are faith denominations forced to marry persons of the same sex.

Robinson says he defends the right of groups like T&T Cause to hold particular views on sexuality and marriage:

But the role of the law, protected by the Constitution, isn’t to enforce any faith group’s teachings. Win or lose, religious believers will continue to be able to make arguments of law on matters of social policy to the courts.

Prime Minister Keith Rowley told parliament last year that all citizens deserve to live free of violence and harassment, “regardless of whom they sleep with.” He’s been reticent, though, to support a repeal of the sodomy law.
In a crowdfunding campaign to raise £15,000 for his legal fees, Jones wrote last year that:

In my home country of Trinidad and Tobago, I can be arrested and imprisoned for up to 25 years for having consensual sex with my male partner.
Any sexual intimacy between couples of the same sex is a crime (including sex between women). My Government calls these acts ‘serious indecency’. They can imprison us for up to 25 years for penetrative sex and for 5 years for any other act of sexual intimacy. There are around 100,000 LGBT people on my islands, many living a hidden and fearful life. Gay and bi men, lesbian and bi women, trans people, all live with the threat of this criminal law hanging over them.
We inherited these laws from Britain (did you know that 74 million LGBT people in the Commonwealth are criminalised?), but my own Government extended the law from only gay men to lesbians after we gained our independence. This is Trinidad and Tobago in the year 2017 …

He added:

I am a human rights defender challenging my Government in the High Court to change this situation. I am asking the Court to declare that these laws are unconstitutional! That they violate my human rights, and encourage homophobia and hatred from my fellow citizens against the LGBT community, and therefore they MUST be removed!
My Government is defending this case, saying that these laws must stay in place! Since filing my legal challenge in February of this year, I have received over 5 dozen death threats, and hundreds of messages of hate on my social media pages. I live in fear for my safety and have become completely isolated from friends and family because I don’t want anything to happen to them back home.
Over the last two years, I have planned my case with a brilliant legal team made up of lawyers from both Trinidad and Britain. They have worked for free, giving me hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of free work! I am so very grateful to them all! My day in Court is nearly here. Now, I need YOUR help.

I still need to raise at least £15,000 for my Court case . . . Litigation is not cheap, even when you have the best lawyers working for you for free!
Your donation will ensure that 100,000 LGBT people have their day in Court, so that we can challenge these barbaric laws that criminalise us for being lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans.

To date, Jones has raised £9,646 of his £15,000 target. The campaign runs for another 16 days.

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  • L.Long

    The major indicator of an ahole piece of shit religion…they need the secular gov’ment to do their dirty work!!!

  • Broga

    “He labelled homosexuality as: Unnatural and illegal.”
    Unlike celibacy, I suppose.

  • 1859

    Barry – how about a donate button? I’d like to chip in.

  • Har Davids

    “You must respect the rights of others”, said some spiritual snake-oil peddling bishop, unless you’re gay, I guess. Religion really gives you a word view of reality.

  • Har Davids

    “You must respect the rights of others”, said some spiritual snake-oil peddling bishop, unless you’re gay, I guess. Religion really gives you a weird view of reality.

  • Jobrag

    So sex acts between same sex couples are unnatural, sitting in a matel tube at thirty thousand feet is of course so natural, let’s ban air travel, oh and motor cars, TV, clothing etc etc.

  • andym

    “We are saying having rights and being right are two different things.”
    Well you got that bit right anyway. That’s why you’re still allowed to practise your vile, anti-human religions after science has disproved every “eternal truth” you’ve put up.

  • Broga

    Please God, don’t ever let me believe in you. This morning I had an example of why I should keep clear. Radio 4 was playing and there was a trailer for a programme “Heart and Soul”, I think, at 9.30am the title was already a bad sign. The programme was about people from different faiths – including Buddhism – with serious illness. Did the illness make them doubt? Daring stuff already for the BBC. My initial question was: is Buddhism a faith?
    I decided to stiffen the sinews etc and keep on listening. The presenter, a BBC employee and Catholic, had multiple sclerosis and she admitted she had had some doubts. And here I separate whatever I think of the con trick of the RC faith from my sympathy towards anyone struggling with MS.
    The second to appear was also a BBC employee and he was in deep trouble with various illness. The signs were clear. We were going to hear about the wonderful support of their faith although the first woman did say she had wondered why God had done this to her.
    What sly programmes like this do is inveigle people into the shallow and ultimately deeply disappointing fiction of religion. No atheists given air time, of course. I switched off after a few minutes. Perhaps I missed a revelation that would have changed my mind.

  • Barry Duke

    @1859 If you meant a donate link to Jones’s campaign, here it is:

  • Cali Ron

    Buggery laws? The name alone is an indication of how old and obsolete the law is. I hear christians, especially evangelicals say allowing same sex marriage discriminates against them, or is an affront to them, but I have never heard a rational explanation of how. Apparently, their skin is as thin as my petulant man – child president and their god so weak they are threatened by others sexual orientation. SAD! Just like the orange ignoramus, threatened by shadows in the night and delusions in their heads.

  • 1859

    Barry D: Yes, I did. Thanks. 10 quid is all I can manage at the mo.

  • barriejohn

    Bishop Gill has been interviewed on Today. He doesn’t want children “indoctrinated in school”. Oh, the irony!
    “[I]f homosexuality is gonna be decriminalised, it will criminalise Christian freedom.” So only Christians have the right to decide what is lawful, then?

  • andym

    @bj. I caught that live. He changed his argument more than once, and in the end seemed to be saying, “Homosexuality should be illegal so Christians don’t feel bad about calling it a sin.” As I said elsewhere, a strong, if inadvertent, argument in favour of secularism.

  • barriejohn

    @andym: Quite. Macron has been saying similar things about France, and I agree, broadly, with his comments. “The French state is secular, but French society is not”. It has been pointed out time and again that secularism provides the best defence for religious freedom, but the religious never see this, as they always assume that a non-secular state will promote THEIR particular form of religious belief!

  • andym

    Far less disturbing than what he said here;
    Macron may be backtracking. I agree about the veil. Far more effort should be put into making sure no one is being made to wear it, which I would count as a form of domestic abuse.