Kaleidoscope Trust

Trinidad PM promises to 'end all discrimination' against LGBT people

In a letter to the Executive Director of the Kaleidoscope Trust, the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Mrs Kamla Persad-Bisessar, has said she wants to 'put an end to all discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation'. She said that her government's Gender Policy, currently under discussion in Cabinet, was expected to uphold the rights of all citizens.

 

Mrs Persad Bisessar said she agreed that 'stigmatisation of homosexuality in Trinidad and Tobago is a matter which must be addressed on the grounds of human rights and dignity to which every individual is entitled under international law.'

 

A Trinidad newspaper published her letter, which was written in August, this week and a spokesman for the Prime Minister said it was 'self-explanatory'.

Lance Price, Executive Director of the Kaleidoscope Trust, met Mrs Persad-Bisessar in Port of Spain earlier this year. He then wrote to her urging her to remove from the statute books those pieces of legislation that discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

 

Lance Price said:

 

'The Prime Minister's letter to me is the clearest statement ever given by a Caribbean leader of the need to get rid of laws that undermine the basic human rights of LGBT people. I was delighted to read her unequivocal opposition to discrimination in any form against people because of how they were born. What she says indicates a position of strong moral leadership on this issue. We applaud her for what she has said and look forward with great interest to seeing the new Gender Policy when it is published.'

 

Homosexual acts are illegal in Trinidad and Tobago under the Sexual Offences Act. The maximum sentence is 25 years in prison. Under the Immigration Act homosexuals are legally barred from entering the country.

 

Text of the letter, dated 14 August 212:


"With respect to the concerns raised in your letter regarding aspects of Trinidad and Tobago's Sexual Offences Act and the Immigration Act which may target persons who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), I wish to assure you that due consideration is being given to these issues by my Government.

 

"I do not support discrimination in any form against any individual, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. I share your view that the stigmatisation of homosexuality in Trinidad andTobago is a matter which must be addressed on the grounds of human rights and dignity to which every individual is entitled under international law.   

 

"As such I am pleased to inform you that I have mandated my Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development…to prepare and present a National Gender Policy to Cabinet over the coming months. It is expected that once adopted, this policy will forge the way forward for Trinidad and Tobago as my government seeks to put an end to all discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation.

 

"Please rest assured that my government is doing its utmost to uphold the human rights of all citizens and residents of Trinidad and Tobago as we remain committed to a democratic, people-centred approach to governance and development."