LGBTI+ groups will be marching in front of Parliament today in response to a month-long campaign of “misinformation and fearmongering” by a group of evangelical churches.
In a release yesterday the Alliance for Justice and Diversity (AJD) said it invited those who believe that diverse groups need to share the nation of Trinidad and Tobago to stand with them outside Parliament on April 9. The march begins at 12.30 pm and ends at 1.30pm when coalition of civil society groups will greet Parliamentarians walking through the chamber’s Wrightson Road entrance in advance of the 1.30 pm sitting.
The AJD explained that it called for the gathering in response to the campaign by the churches which was prompted by the upcoming judgement on April 12 in the case of Jason Jones versus the Attorney General.
“The case challenges two rarely enforced laws that criminalize private sexuality. Jones, a former St Patrick’s RC Church acolyte and Fatima College student, has asked the court to ensure that gay and lesbian people have dignity and privacy in their sexual affairs by enforcing the Constitution’s promise of equal rights to all citizens to TT.
“In contrast, the evangelical leaders and their followers have gathered to demand that national laws impose full gospel Christian values on everyone else. They have threatened to take political action unless parliamentarians commit that LGBTI+ citizens will be treated as inferior to others.”
The AJD pointed out that Pentecostal, Evangelical and Full Gospel Christians made up around 12 per cent of the 2011 population (according to the Central Statistical Office census) while a conservative estimate of the LGBTI+ was 3.4 per cent or 37,000 adults (likely extrapolated from polls in the United States).
“AJD emphasizes that small diverse societies such as TT should protect all members of their population.”
AJD said the goals of the gathering were: firstly for participants and allies to show love for each other; secondly to turn national attention and effort away from people’s bedrooms and back to pressing matters such as income inequality, economic sustainability, crime and violence, strengthened governance, inter-island transportation, and national values of tolerance and diversity; thirdly to correct fears based on misinformation about the case, especially the false idea that repealing these unenforced laws would legalise same-sex marriage, force churches to perform them, or require unscientific information about sexuality be taught in schools; and fourthly to draw the attention of parliamentarians (who are guarantors of all citizens’ human rights) to the impact the evangelical campaign has had on hate speech in the nation and the fears of LGBTI+ persons about discrimination and safety as a result of the court case.
“Those gathered seek to amplify the voices calling on the Attorney General to urgently introduce already drafted legislation that would expand legal protections from discrimination, specifically by adding age, HIV status and sexual orientation to the Equal Opportunity Act, as recommended by the Equal Opportunity Commission.”
AJD is a social justice coalition of organisations and allies led by Trinidad and Tobago’s LGBTI+ NGOs: CAISO: Sex and Gender Justice, Friends for Life, I Am One, Silver Lining Foundation, Transgender Coalition of T&T, Women’s Caucus of T&T, and Womantra. In addition to issues related to sexuality and gender identity, the groups work together to prevent gender-based violence, strengthen school safety, improve policing, and champion protection against discrimination for age and health conditions, the group added.