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N Touch
Tuesday 24 April 2018
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Commentary

Sharing the nation

Colin Robinson

caisott2@gmail.com

A few mornings ago, I was chatting with Fazeer Mohammed about all we have in common. Not as St Mary’s boys, but as members of minority groups subject to irrational stigma who must fight for this powerful idea of sharing the nation.

It got me wondering: If a strident Muslim group gathered outside Parliament weekly, then marched peacefully through the streets towards the Hall of Justice, wearing white and calling for sharia in the Constitution—saying haram people don’t get rights, only what is halal is right—would we take them seriously? Would we panic, and lock them up? What if they went on the airwaves reading culture-war talking points from Muslim groups abroad?

By now, a Hindu pundit, who’s also a trial judge, has applied secular law to determine if one national minority can be denied the Constitution’s guarantee of dignity and protection—and why. It’s been an exhausting week for those who’ve had to campaign to share our own nation, in response to the buggery law challenge. But it’s been an exhilarating one—of hope in young voters standing side by side Monday outside Parliament singing about love of liberty, of faith in the stalwarts who’ve campaigned their whole lives for justice, showing so much love: for themselves, for each other, for this nation.

BC joked with you last week that when Trinidad out-Trinidads itself, he makes up letters-to-the-editor. Sardonically, he called them letters of marque, which I remember from Caribbean history class, are licences the crown gave privateers to violently seize others’ vessels in its name. I’m going to cheat a bit and share others’ words instead of mine this week, before I take a nap. But none are made up. And all give back what others want to take away.

In a long February interview after her election, the President boldly said, “in terms of the State and the law, all citizens and all persons under the protection of our jurisdiction should have equal treatment. Whatever their gender, whatever their sexual orientation, whatever their race, we need to have absolute equality across the board in terms of State obligations and constitutional rights.”

Asked during June’s Prime Minister’s Questions session in the House last year about protecting LGBT rights, days after a Muslim shot up a gay Florida nightclub, Dr Rowley offered, “I want to make it abundantly clear that every citizen…regardless of who he or she may be, they have the protection of the written constitution in letter and spirit…And in order to give effect to that protection…all the state’s agencies, including the police, have a duty to protect every citizen…regardless of who they sleep with or don’t sleep with or how they do it.”

The Attorney General told a UK-based journalist about the buggery case, “Our society has changed significantly in its view on tolerating homosexuality, and radically so within the last generation. In our evolving democracy, we have the opportunity to move our laws along in tandem with society’s consideration of those laws.”

Announcing Mayor Tim Kee’s resignation on morning shows last February, PNM chair Franklin Khan shared, “What we are realising is that there are what I call 21st-century issues that we can no longer take an antiquated approach to…things like…gay rights…And…some of these old dogmatic doctrines of…the ’50s and the ’60s are no longer relevant in a modern world.”

Faith leaders, too, have been clear. At a Jamaica conference last year on sodomy and the Bible, Anglican Archbishop John Holder explained: “I am probably more competent in Biblical exegesis than…interpretation of the law…As soon as the word homosexuality is mentioned in Biblical studies, we may want to make a beeline for the story of Sodom and Gomorrah…The use of this story…is fraught with the danger of imposing our convictions, and a bigotry about this practice onto the story…Gen. 13:5-13 and 18:16-19:29…is not making points about sexual orientation…It is not there in Leviticus, in Romans, even in Timothy…The text cannot be twisted in that way.”

By now, I hope Catholic Archbishop Jason Gordon has clarified the Vatican’s clear opposition to criminalisation of homosexuals. He isn’t as colourful as his predecessor Joe Harris, who called SEA child abuse, child marriage legalised statutory rape, and Kamla reckless when she blamed his Church for her unwillingness to decriminalise homosexuality: “We will put up no objection to the decriminalisation of homosexuality…I am saying so now: That the Church is not…for the criminalisation of homosexuality. I will say it again. And any time I’m asked I will say it. And we will all say it.”

By now, too, I hope the Full Truth pastors, who love me, have offered the nation the full truth, and released their Nigel Henry poll, showing it isn’t a vast majority of you who want a buggery law.

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