AHEAD of Wednesday’s funeral for murdered actor, director and producer Raymond Choo Kong, his memory was honoured in the heart of Britain’s House of Commons in a speech on Tuesday by his long-time friend, activist Jason Jones, at a meeting on LGBT Rights in the Commonwealth. “It really touched a nerve,” Jones related. “It was a huge event.”
The meeting was hosted by UK shadow home secretary Diane Abbott who is of Guyanese descent and a close ally of UK Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn.
The event highlighted Jones’ historic achievement in the decriminalisation of buggery in TT, a case by which the Privy Council could guide decriminalisation across the Commonwealth by one judgement. Jones’s attorney Peter Laverick who charted his victorious legal challenge to TT’s buggery laws told guests of the history of British anti-gay legislation in the Commonwealth. Abbott urged the UK to help Commonwealth countries change such laws.
Newsday asked Jones what outcome he sought from the event.
"I hope this event will draw attention and raise awareness of the issue of the criminalisation of millions of LGBTQ+ Commonwealth citizens across the globe using archaic British Colonial-era buggery laws. Although these laws are rarely used punitively against my community in court, what they do however, is to reinforce societal prejudices and discrimination against LGBTQ+ people. It is also a fact, that HIV infection rates are higher in countries that criminalise us.
"The Prison Service in TT refuses to hand out condoms to prisoners because they say gay male sex is against the law."
Which prominent people or media houses attended? "We had the main gay media houses in attendance and a few prominent people in attendance, but what was more important for me, was to get grass roots support. If the people who attended go back and share my work with their networks, then I have impacted on thousands.
"Politicians in both the UK and TT are showing complete apathy and cowardice on the issue. It is only until their voters speak up and demand the removal of these discriminatory and unconstitutional laws."
Asked who he hoped was listening to his message, Jones said, "With my work, I never know who is listening.
"I don't concern myself with that as my energies must be on the message and getting that out to the public. My social media is awash with threats of violence and homophobic bigotry, so the bigots are listening. But I also receive beautiful messages from people who are so grateful for what I am doing.
"So who is listening is not my concern, the impact and results of my work is what I focus on."