Thursday, January 18, 2018

Gay rights still on the back burner in T&T

Divided: Chauncey Killens, left, discusses marriage, as Carmen Guzman celebrates outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, USA, yesterday after its historic decision on gay marriage. —Photo: AFP

For the politicians, gay rights continue to be an issue that remains on the back burner.

Following the landmark ruling of the United States Supreme Court declaring same-sex marriage legal in all states, Attorney General Garvin Nicholas says in Trinidad and Tobago the debate will continue on this issue.

“I respect the US and it’s Supreme Court, which rules on matters pertinent to the US. Trinidad and Tobago is a different nation with its own laws which reflect our diverse societal norms and values. These matters have attracted much debate and will no doubt continue to so do. It is not an issue to be pronounced on unilaterally,” Nicholas told the Express when asked for comment.

There have been numerous calls for governments past and present to amend the laws of this country to recognise gay people.

Most recently, Trinidad-born United States judge Helen Whitener challenged the relevant authorities to remove the laws that discriminate against homosexual people in Trinidad and Tobago.

She said the move was mandatory since it had evolved into a human rights issue. T&T immigration laws list homosexuals as undesirables.

Whitener, 50, is a Superior Court judge in the state of Washington, USA. She is married to Lynn Rainey.

Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar last spoke of this issue in September 2014 at a T&T investment conference in Manhattan, New York City, USA.

In response to questions, the Prime Minister had said, “At this moment it is not legally possible. The draft gender policy came to the Cabinet, discussed at length and given the very divided voices of Trinidad and Tobago, it will not be prudent for Government to proceed in that direction... it’s too divided. There is no consensus on that issue.”

Meanwhile, US President Barack Obama hailed the arrival of a new era of equality in American society, saying the Supreme Court’s decision to make same-sex marriage legal is a civil rights victory for those who have long fought for the right to love whomever they choose.

Obama had embraced same-sex marriage in the months before his 2012 re-election. “Today, we can say in no uncertain terms that we’ve made our union a little more perfect,” he said yesterday following the ruling. • See Page 23