Letters to the Editor

Human rights victory in T&T buggery case ruling

Monday, April 16, 2018

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Dear Editor,

Caribbean Vulnerable Communities (CVC) coalition welcomes the ruling of the Trinidad and Tobago High Court which declared the criminalisation of buggery as “unconstitutional, illegal, null, void, invalid, and of no effect”. This is to the extent that these laws criminalise any acts constituting consensual sexual conduct between adults.

It has always been the considered view of CVC that any such arrangement in law infringes on the basic principles of human rights and justice. The ruling signifies an increasing recognition by our courts in the Caribbean of the need to safeguard human dignity and the rights of everyone.

Similar to another ruling in Belize, and a pending case in Jamaica, CVC reiterates that it is not advocating for new laws or new standards for the people of the Caribbean. Instead, the coalition is adamant that these nations should adhere to their own constitutions.

While public opinion has largely favoured criminalisation of buggery, surveys have shown that most people who support decriminalisation think it performs a public good. Many were open to changing their viewpoint when it was shown that criminalisation does more harm and contributed to the spread of HIV.

CVC recognises that even governments with supportive officials face challenges and risks in enacting reform because of lack of consensus with their Government or party, fears of alienating the political base or that reform will be politicised by opponents. Notwithstanding, the Government of Trinidad and Tobago is being urged to accept the ruling and, instead of appealing the decision, in the words of the High Court judge recognise “that the beliefs of some…are not the beliefs of all, and, in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, all are protected and are entitled to be protected under the Constitution”.

CVC identifies with the Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP) in acknowledging that every individual regardless of race, colour, gender, age or sexual orientation has the right to human dignity.

For this reason CVC sees this ruling as a victory for the Caribbean and commends High Court Judge Devindra Rampersad for the courage to do the right thing. CVC also congratulates Jason Jones and his legal team for their valiant efforts in correcting this decades-old injustice.

Ivan Cruickshank

Executive director

Caribbean Vulnerable Communities

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