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Thursday 20 September 2018
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Anarchy and social unrest

RAINBOW PRIDE: A member of the LGBTQI community pose in front of a rainbow flag at Woodford Square, Port of Spain, on Thursday after a High Court judge ruled that this country’s buggery laws were unconstitutional. PHOTO BY AZLAN MOHAMMED

OUTSPOKEN Reverend Victor Gill says despite the court’s ruling on the unconstitutionality of this country’s buggery laws, his position has not changed and is warning that the ruling can have serious repercussions, including massive social unrest similar to that which led to the 1990 attempted coup.

Gill, of the Redemption Christian Centre, spoke to Newsday after conducting service at one of his churches yesterday.

He has been one of the most outspoken critics of the law’s removal.

Gill said while he was still opposed to homosexuality, his organisation preaches peace and did not

condone violence against any group of individuals.

Responding to critics who placed him indirectly responsible for the eviction of gay men by landlords and relatives, Gill said this was merely the reaction of a society opposed to homosexuality.

Citing the 1990 insurrection, Gill predicted similar action from the public in response to the buggery laws’ ruling. “This decision will have major fallout. There will be a spillover. It’s not something that I am advocating, but in 1990, the Jamaat al-Muslimeen felt the government at the time was being unjust, and it led to anarchy. The Jamaat has already expressed their objection to the removing the buggery law and so have we (Christians), 95 per cent of the population do not want this.

“This could lead to a big uprising in this country unless the government steps in and realises this country cannot bear this moral burden.”

Gill said he and other religious leaders were in the process of organising one of the largest protests against the law’s repeal, uniting various religious organisations, sometime this week.

He also accused Justice Rampersad of imposing a secular world view on TT, and predicted an increase in criminal activities in the wake of the ruling.

Newsday also spoke to Luke Sinnette, social worker and member of LGBTQI lobbyist group, Friends for Life, who said he was concerned by Gill’s remarks about social uprising. Sinnette said he was not convinced that Gill was using his role as a religious leader for the greater good, and accused him of hate speech. “They have to stop and take responsibility for what they’re doing, because if you’re putting this rhetoric out there, that there will be some social unrest, you put that in the minds of people.

“Instead of quell the unrest you choose to feed it. This is not religious beliefs; this is homophobic beliefs. It’s hard when all you want to do is get up and get a taxi to come home; it’s a serious problem,” an emotional Sinnette said.

Sinnette added that despite the backlash, his organisation has received tremendous support from local and international supporters for the three men who were evicted from their apartments and have succeeded in finding alternative accomodations for the trio.

In his ruling, High Court judge Devindra Rampersad said Jason Jones’ constitutional challenge was not a case about religious and moral beliefs but was one about the inalienable rights of a citizen; the dignity of the person.

Although he has ruled that the laws were unconstitutional, null and void, he has not struck down the offending sections of the Sexual Offences Act, so they remain in place until he finalises his order.

The State has announced its decision to appeal the ruling.

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