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Friday 21 September 2018
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President Weekes laments tensions over debate on sex acts

TT President Paula-Mae Weekes addresses the nation during her inauguration ceremony on the morning of March 19, Queen's Park Savannah, Port of Spain. PHOTO BY SUREASH CHOLAI.

PRESIDENT Paula-Mae Weekes in a statement yesterday lamented "escalating tensions" as the country mulls its buggery laws and urged people not to incite victimisation, bigotry, and violence on the issue, but instead to become properly informed of the facts and express themselves civilly.

She explained at length exactly which sexual acts are at present outlawed.

Last Thursday, High Court judge Justice Devindra Rampersad ruled that the country's ban on buggery under the Sexual Offences Act was unconstitutional, in a case brought by gay-rights activist Jason Jones, and which the State will appeal to the Appeal Court, with further prospects of adjudication by the Privy Council and a possible repeal of the legislation by Parliament.

"It is with growing concern that I have been following in the media, both traditional and social, the escalating tensions surrounding Sections 13 and 16 of the Sexual Offences Act and the recent judgment of our Court on the constitutionality of those provisions," said Weekes.

"I urge those participating in the debate to bear in mind that while all of us are entitled to hold and express robustly our point of view, we must be careful not to damage the national psyche by inadvertently inciting victimisation, bigotry, and violence.

She implored citizens, especially those in a position to influence others, to inform themselves fully on the law and the facts before making public utterances.

"I take this opportunity to remind commentators of the request I made in my inauguration address that those with a platform from which to disseminate their views, or those of others, report responsibly and comment civilly on the facts."

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