Progress for LGBTQ+ Trinidadians!
In a historic moment for Trinidad and Tobago, judges in the island nation have declared a law criminalising gay sex that has been present for decades as outdated.
The High Court made the decision on Thursday, stating that the historic laws were unconstitutional and needed to be banned.
Judge Devindra Rampersad said that laws banning “buggery” and “serious indecency” infringed on the rights of the LGBTQ+ people on the island – estimated to be around 100,000 people.
The court declares that sections 13 and 16 of the Sexual Offences Act are unconstitutional, illegal, null, void, invalid and of no effect to the extent that these laws criminalise any acts constituting consensual sexual conduct between adults.
We won. In a landmark day in #Trinidad history, the high court has ruled in favour of Jason Jones and has declared section 13 and 16 of the #buggery #law illegal, null and void. #StandWithUs #iHaveRights #SexualDiversityTT #lgbt #humanrights #LoveIsLove #Equality pic.twitter.com/URRCszKORQ
— The Silver Lining Foundation (@slftt) April 13, 2018
The ruling came after LGBT rights activist Jason Jones, whose activism has been supported through crowd-sourcing, repealed the law by suing the government of Trinidad and Tobago. Since February 2017, he has been fighting to remove the “buggery law” from the Caribbean Islands.
Speaking on the court ruling to CNC3, Jones said there was a huge cause for celebration. He added that “the hardened homophobia that we have witnessed today in front of the High Court, that will not go away because of today’s judgement. But, what happened today, we must all celebrate our nationality because what happened in our High Court was justice. We must be proud of our democracy and that is what we should celebrate tonight.”
With my amazing client @trinijayjay outside High Court in #Trinidad. @jonesvtnt Today we decriminalised homosexuality. Pleasure to work with you on this long road with many bumps over last 2.5 years. #lgbt rights all about #dignity pic.twitter.com/P0f9zttdVk
— Peter Laverack (@peter_laverack) April 12, 2018
Kenita Placide, Caribbean adviser for rights group OutRight Action International, said in a statement that “the judge came down on the right side of history in this case by striking down the buggery law and ruling it as unconstitutional.” She added that she hoped “with positive rulings in Belize and Trinidad and Tobago, the movement will carry the momentum to other parts of the region.”
The law was originally introduced by British colonialists, but has remained effective since. Over the years, governmental leaders have increased the maximum penalties twice over the last thirty years. The last increase occurred in 2000, when the maximum penalties was pushed up to 25 years.
A final judgement will be expected in July however, the government of Trinidad is also set to appeal to reverse the High Court’s ruling.