HEAD of the NGO CAISO Sex and Gender Justice Colin Robinson has saluted the all-embracing comments of Caroni Central MP Dr Bhoendradatt Tewarie, who told religious leaders to accept and engage members of the LGBTQI community.
Robinson said while Tewarie was not the first politician or public figure to show support, it was an important statement and time to remind politicians that the members of the community were voters who would be participating in the elections, and their choice would be based on what people were saying about them. Tewarie told religious leaders at a lunch he hosted at Signature Hall, Longdenville, on Thursday, that the engagement must be done in a healthy, respectful manner and rational discussion must be held about strengthening the family. Tewarie said God made all creatures and one could not deny the existence of people because of disagreement over their lifestyle. That was in repsonse to a religious leader who said family life, as ordained by God, was being undermined and damaged by the gay community.
In a telephone interview with the Newsday yesterday, Robinson, a Sunday Newsday columnist, said his organisation was trying to facilitate exactly what Tewarie referred to. He said CAISO was part of a broader project called the Asexual Culture of Justice, and the Silver Lining Foundation. Part of that project has been running family groups which are specifically designed to provide clinical support to families in understanding and engaging with loved ones who are LGBTQI.
“He is right on target, and that is the work that needs to happen, the work of building families.”
Robinson said members of the LGBTQI community, a minority in TT, had not chosen the lifestyle.
“These are identities and experiences and orientation that people discover, not because of abuse, but because that’s how psychology works, and a small percentage of every population turns out to be gay and lesbian or bisexual or turns out to have gender identities that are not consistent with their sexual assigned post.
“We are in the minority, but we need to be incorporated and respected by society.”
Last September, the LGBTQI community scored a landmark victory when the High Court decriminalised consensual sexual relations between adults of the same sex, in a ruling that modified sections of the Sexual Offences Act.
Robinson commended the opposition MP for “having the bravery” to verbalise his position, saying politicians rarely did that, and when they did so in their individual capacities, they would clarify that it did not mirror the thinking of their respective political parties.
“We salute Dr Tewarie for making such a clear statement. It is refreshing, but it was not altogether surprising because Dr Tewarie is credited with inserting a plank in the People’s Partnership 2015 election manifesto that people should be protected from discrimination based on sexual orientation.
“I think what he has signalled is important to LGBTQI people who are voters and who will be voting in the next local government and general elections. We would be making political choices based on what people say about our humanity.”