THE EDITOR: There has been some serious tongue-twisting and evasion by United National Congress (UNC) political leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar on the issue of gay rights. Her position on this issue in 2012 seems to have changed significantly in 2018.
Persad-Bissessar promised “rights for gays” in a proposed national gender policy during 2012.
She said so in a private letter, dated August 14, 2012, to Lance Price, which was obtained by the media. Price is executive director of the Kaleidoscope Trust, an NGO based in the UK which campaigns globally for gay/LGBT rights and diversity. Persad-Bissessar is quoted as saying, “I share your view that the stigmatisation of homosexuality in T&T is a matter which must be addressed on the grounds of human rights and dignity to which every individual is entitled under international law. “As such I am pleased to inform you that I have mandated my Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development, Senator the Honourable Marlene Coudray, to prepare and present a national gender policy to Cabinet over the coming months.”
The population still awaits this promised national gender policy and the absence of which makes her position cloudy. This is also evidenced by her latest media interview concerning the ruling by High Court Justice Devindra Rampersad. Persad-Bissessar did not mention her previous policy promise but instead recommended a referendum and refused to comment on the High Court decision which says the buggery law is unconstitutional. The Government has since appealed the High Court ruling in support of the buggery law remaining in effect. This law encompasses buggery or sodomy and includes bestiality or intercourse with an animal. A penalty of two years imprisonment upon conviction applies.
The LGBT community is rallying in support of striking the buggery law off the books. The religious community has also spoken out but in support of keeping the buggery law on the books.
As Opposition Leader, Persad-Bissessar needs to be clear on her position with respect to whether she supports the buggery law staying in effect or not. The population looks on in anticipation of Persad-Bissessar making her position clear to the public.
RONALD HUGGINS, social media officer, PNM