Two years after consensual homosexual sex acts were decriminalised by the High Court, gay rights activist Jason Jones wants to determine how heterosexuals feel about the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI+) community.
Jones announced this on Friday at 4Play bar in St James as he launched the T&T National LGBTQ+ survey.
On April 18, 2018, Justice Devindra Rampersad ruled that Sections 13 and 16 of the Sexual Offences Act were unconstitutional and made it null. It was later amended to include the words “without consent.”
Section 13 criminalised buggery, either between a man and a woman or between two men. Section 16 criminalised acts of “serious indecency” which are defined as acts arousing the genital organs for sexual gratification. Heterosexuals were exempted from serious indecency once done in private.
Jones, a UK-based activist from TT, now wants to determine if the ruling has changed the public's perspective towards the LGBTI+ community in TT.
“I think one of the things that is going very wrong, not just in Trinidad and Tobago, but in LGBT rights across the world, is we are focusing on the people who are enemies. A lot of advocacy is focusing on trying to change hearts and minds. I disagree with that idea.
“I think if somebody's mind is cold and hard, if they're racist, if they're homophobic, if they are transphobic. We shouldn't be wasting our time trying to change their hearts and minds,” Jones said.
Under a score of LGBTI+ people and their allies gathered at the bar while the event was streamed live on Facebook.
Jones said after his victory in the court, he believes homophobic rhetoric has decreased in the country. He wants to measure if his assumption is true.
“The hearts and minds that I want to focus on are within my community. The fact that LGBT people can see themselves differently. After the victory in 2018, that's who I want to grab, that's the people I want to say, ‘You take your pride and take that back into your community.’ And the only way to do that is by knowing what your community feels about you.”
Jones partners in this survey are Dr Keon West, a tenured associate professor in social psychology from Goldsmiths, University of London and Prof Rose-Marie Belle Antione, dean of law at the University of the West Indies.
Students from the law faculty will help conduct the research. He is unsure of when the survey will begin but said it would take place over four weeks in eight parts of the country.
He said the survey is 75 per cent finalised and he welcomes input from interested people.
Anyone who wants to add a question to the survey can email email@example.com.