A sign that democracy is “alive and well” in TT. That’s how Roman Catholic Archbishop the Most Rev Jason Gordon described this country’s first-ever gay pride parade, held in Port of Spain last Saturday.
This in contrast to the stance taken by several Evangelical churches, who said the July 28 parade was a serious wake up call for churches. They also argued that the gay lifestyle is a threat to the family structure, claiming it would eventually destroy the nation.
The pride parade was held to celebrate members of the LGBT+ community and advocate for their rights.
Gordon shared his view during an interview on Monday with the Catholic News, which was subsequently posted on the Archdiocese of Port of Spain’s Facebook page on Wednesday.
“TT is a democracy and as such members of society have a right to protest whenever they believe their rights are not being upheld or violated. (The) LGBT+ community has several areas where there is legitimate concern and these have to be taken seriously by the country and by the government and people of TT.”
Gordon cited existing sodomy laws and societal discrimination as an example.
In April, High Court Judge Devindra Rampersad ruled that Sections 13 and 16 of the Sexual Offences Act are “unconstitutional, illegal, null, void, invalid and are of no effect to the extent that these laws criminalise any acts constituting consensual sexual conduct between adults.”
Referring to this, Gordon said the laws are “no longer consistent with who we are as a young democracy” and while the Catholic Church’s position is that sodomy is a “moral wrong”, it does not believe people should be punished by being jailed for 25 years.
“There are some human rights questions that need to be addressed. In maturing as a modern democracy we have to listen to all the groups who believe that their rights are not being upheld or there are violations of their rights. We have to work with everyone to ensure the rights of all in our country are being upheld and that everyone has the freedom to express themselves about their rights.”
Commenting on what the Catholic News described as the misconception that the Catholic Church dislikes homosexuals, Gordon said “every deep truth is paradoxical and this one is no different.”
“We have a command from Jesus to love everyone. There is no if, and or otherwise there. That includes...the LGBT+ community. On the other hand, we believe in a moral law and we have to hold what is right is right and what is wrong is wrong, in service of the common good.
“The same way we will also say homosexual sex is not within the moral law but that does not mean that we must victimise or do anything less than absolutely love each person,” Gordon explained.