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'Take a page out of Obama's book'

...Govt must address gay rights, says Caiso

By Joel Julien joel.julien@trinidadexpress.com

WHILE Cabinet members of the People's Partnership government have been vocal in their support of Barack Obama and his securing of a second term as United States president, they also need to follow the policies implemented by Obama.

So said executive director of the Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation (Caiso) Colin Robinson yesterday.

Robinson made the statement in response to comments by Community Development Minister Winston "Gypsy" Peters the day after Obama's win over Republican rival Mitt Romney.

Peters, who campaigned for Obama in the 2008 United States presidential election, said he was elated by the Democrat securing a second four-year term.

Obama has implemented policies pertaining to gay rights.

Asked about this, Peters said: "I do not support everything he (Obama) supports. I am against some of the things he supports, but in the main those things as far as I am concerned are peripheral. In the main, what I like about what he did was how he stabilised the economy and stuff like that. Things like supporting gay rights and what have you, let the American people deal with that and I think they have dealt with it so I am not going to pronounce on those things really."

Those comments have evoked the ire of Caiso.

"This Government has been accused of campaigning too much but there are some things Minister Peters and his colleagues ought to be campaigning for. To deal with the fact that some people still do not have rights over their own bodies in 21st century Trinidad and Tobago, that we have laws on our books that can send two consenting adults to jail for 25 years for having sex in private," Robinson stated yesterday.

"When young people are pushed out of their families, bullied in schools, unable to find jobs, forced to live on the street, unsafe in men's shelters, repeatedly arrested for loitering, scandalised in the media when they appear in court, driven into sex work, and end up with HIV do I have to go to Barack Obama for money and help to get them skills and a place to live and some human dignity?" said Luke Sinnette, president of Friends for Life—this nation's oldest—which at 15 years is the nation's oldest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) non-governmental organisation.

"These are issues we need our own Government to deal with; not the American people, but Minister Peters, our new ministers for national diversity and gender Clifton deCoteau and Marlene Coudray, and the rest of the Cabinet. It's a shame these young people have a greater champion in President Obama, and even in Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller, that in their own ministers. Human Rights Day is coming up soon.

"We look forward to campaigning together with Ministers Peters, deCoteau, Coudray and others in Government and civil society for a Trinidad and Tobago where we all have equal opportunity and rights," Robinson said.

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