Gay activist files lawsuit challenging Sexual Offences Act in T&T

Create: 02/26/2017 - 13:11

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — A Trinidad-born gay rights activist has filed a

lawsuit challenging Sections 13 and 16 of the Sexual Offences Act, which criminalises

buggery and serious indecency even between

consenting adults in Trinidad and Tobago.

In his lawsuit filed in the High Court on Thursday, Jason Jones claims that the “very

existence of these sections continuously and directly affects the claimant’s private life

by forcing him to either respect the law and refrain

from engaging – even in private with consenting male partners – in prohibited

sexual acts to which he is disposed by reason of his

homosexual orientation, or to commit the prohibited acts and thereby become

liable to criminal prosecution”.

The United Kingdom-based Jones is also claiming that the legislation contravenes

his constitutional rights to privacy and freedom of thought and expression in addition

to being in direct contradiction to this country’s

international human rights obligation.

He is also contending that the legislation opens him up to public prejudice and

ridicule as it labels him and other homosexuals as criminals.

“He is accordingly the subject of extensive societal prejudice, persecution,

marginalisation, a lifelong entrenched stigma that he is an ‘unapprehended’

criminal by virtue of being homosexual and he experiences the lifelong fear of

being punished for expressing his sexuality through consensual conduct with

another adult,” the lawsuit notes.

Jones is seeking to side step the “saving clause” feature of the Constitution

which precludes a court from striking down and reviewing legislation which were

in existence when the Constitution was drafted and that have been marginally

changed since.

The lawsuit claims that the legislation amended in 1986 and 2000 repealed and

replaced pre-Independence sexual offences legislation, covered by the savings

clause, and thus is open to review. A date for the hearing of the constitutional

motion lawsuit is yet to be set.

Jones told reporters that he took the decision to file the lawsuit due to his

personal experience as a homosexual in Trinidad and Tobago including him

being disowned by his family forcing him to migrate to the United Kingdom.

“I don’t wish to shove a gay agenda down you (the public) throat or attack your

morals, religion or spirituality, I am doing this for the betterment of our nation,

and for our feature generations,” Jones said.

Jones said in Trinidad and Tobago, members of the

Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender (LGBT) community face high levels of

discrimination and for this to change, the law must be changed.

He added that the laws were originally British colonial laws, but Britain had

removed the laws and is this year celebrating 50 years since de-criminalising

homosexuality.

 

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