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Sunday 25 August 2019
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We’re not exploiting Choo Kong’s death

Pride TT responds to Rebuild TT claims

Raymond Choo Kong
Raymond Choo Kong

NARISSA FRASER

PRIDE TT is denying claims that the LGBTQ+ community and its advocates are using the death of veteran TT actor and playwright Raymond Choo Kong “to advance their cause.”

In a press release issued on Wednesday afternoon, Rebuild TT, a non-government pro-family organisation, said, “Last year, there were over 516 murders in TT.

“Several of these murder victims were killed in the sanctity of their homes as was Mr Choo Kong. Most of these murders remain unsolved. We are therefore dismayed that the Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, Transsexual, Intersexual (LBGTI+) (sic) ‘rights’ advocates are exploiting the death of Mr Choo Kong to advance their cause by suggesting there is a ‘serial killer’ on the loose after homosexuals.”

The release also claimed gay-rights activist Jason Jones, who, in 2018, successfully challenged the unconstitutionality of sections 13 and 16 of the Sexual Offences Act, which criminalises buggery between consenting adults, and Pride TT chief co-ordinator Rudolph Hanamji were attempting to “dupe” the country into believing homosexuals were being targeted. It continued, “The LBGTQI+ advocates who are no more than a small, highly internationally funded subset of the homosexual community are determined to use whatever means necessary to get legal recognition.”

Jones recently called on Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith to investigate possible links between the murders of gay men over the past two years.

Speaking with Newsday, Jones said, “Two years ago, I was approached by a member of the TTPS who had 20 years of service. He reached out to me through a mutual friend. He told me he approached his commanders as he thought there was a link between the murders of gay men and they threw it out. I went to meet him and took a reporter from the Guardian and after that report went out, the murders stopped. I expect the murders will stop again after this last case.

Jones said his observation was that the media attention caused a decrease in the murders of gay men.

“I believe the police need to do a proper investigation, and this is not unique to TT, it’s across the board.”

When asked for a comment on the Rebuild TT press release, a heartbroken Jones said, “I’m not going to ventilate trolls and address an awful statement. For this person to do this is exactly what homophobia is about.

“Raymond was a very dear, close friend of mine. Raymond was a best friend, a mentor, a guide, a hero. I am absolutely devastated. He will go down down as a true patriot, and we must remember the impact he had.”

Newsday columnist and Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation (CAISO) executive director Colin Robinson told Newsday, “We don’t take Rebuild TT very seriously. They have no credibility. They couldn’t even spell Rudolph’s name right.”

President of Rebuild TT Gregory Lal-Beharie told Newsday there is no evidence that gay men were being targeted. He said, “There is an obvious attempt for the LGBTQI+ community to be recognised legally, and they don’t seem to be adverse to using any strategy. And we just think that Mr Raymond’s death is being used as one of those strategies. And we think it is a rather terrible thing to have done.

“The idea of some sort of gay serial killer is an absurdity. We don’t believe gays are being targeted by any such person.”

He added, “We are not an anti-gay organisation. We are a pro family group that promotes the traditional family. We just didn’t think it was ethical what they were doing.”

Pride TT responded to the claims in a press release shortly after. The release, issued by Hanamji, said, “Pride TT denounces any attempts made by self-righteous hypocrites to distract attention from real issues in society, namely the prevalence of abuse, hate and prejudice levelled against the LGBTQ+ community and in particular the more vulnerable members thereof. They would seek to ‘rebuild T&T’ after they have destroyed it in the name of bigotry.”

Hanamji is calling on citizens to unite, love, and protect each other, and said Pride TT will continue to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights.

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