A High Court In Trinidad And Tobago Ruled That Criminalizing Homosexuality Is Unconsitutional

Yesterday, Trinidad and Tobago ruled that criminalizing homosexuality was unconstitutional.

While Trinidad and Tobago has no law outright banning same-sex love/relationships, Sections 13 and 16 of the Sexual Offenses Act criminalize buggery (anal sex) and indecency between adults.

Trinidad gained this law from the United Kingdom when it was colonized by the British. Even though the UK later got rid of this law, Trinidad, which gained its independence in 1962, has kept it ever since.

But in the past few years, there has been an increase in cries for the country to change the ruling. This has caused lots of controversy in the country such as Christian protestors outspokenly objecting to a change and LGBTQ advocates lobbying with political officials to gain protections for citizens.

One such advocate, named Jason Jones, filed a lawsuit in February 2017 that eventually led to this new court ruling.

According to Erasing 76 Crimes, Trinidad and Tobago’s High court ruled that the laws against homosexuality were unconstitutional.

Justice Devindra Rampersad stated:

“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.”

While Justice Rampersad’s ruling now states that Sections 13 and 16 are unconstitutional, an additional judgment will be held in July to figure out what will happen to the two sections.

That said, many people in Trinidad and Tobago, and outside of it, are celebrating.

Questions Arise Around Trinidad And Tobago Judge's Connection To A Gay Man Who Was Shot

A Tinidad Judge is being questioned about his connection to a gay man who was shot outside his home.

36-year-old Dillian Johnson was shot on his hand outside his home in Trinidad and Tobago on December 3. Afterwards, he left for the UK and says he’s afraid he’ll be killed if he returns to his home country.

“I fear being murdered for my sexuality if I go back,” Johnson said. “My relationship with [the chief justice] has been highly publicized.”

Now, the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago is investigating allegations focusing on chief justice Ivor Archie.

Lawyers aren’t wondering if Archie was involved with the shooting (though some media sources are accusing him of that). They’re wondering if Archie has been personally advocating for Johnson and are focused on the implications of why.

Rumor is that Archie brought Johnson with him to a four-day Commonwealth law conference in Guyana in 2016 in order to lobby for the state housing of Johnson and others.

On top of these accusations, there’s also the second layer of accusations towards Archie’s relationship with Johnson. Some are hinting that he has an “intimate” relationship with Johnson.

What started these second accusations were leaked photographs that dropped this past January. The photos depicted the two men on a hotel bed together at the Guyanan conference.  

That said, the photographs were confirmed to be photoshopped. And, of course, Archie has denied the claims brought against him by the law association.

Though despite being married, Archie and his defense team have avoided labeling him as straight, gay, or bisexual. They say this is because his sexual orientation did “not affect the chief justice’s professional conduct and concern[s] his private life.”

Trinidad and Tobago is still a greatly homophobic country. “Buggery” is punishable by up to 25 years in prison and six gay men were murdered in the first half of 2017.

As such, the Law Association of Trinidad is trying its hardest to confirm their suspicions of Archie and Johnson having a romantic relationship. Meanwhile, Archie, who is an open advocate for LGBTQ rights, says the law association is biased towards him and out to use any means necessary to bring him down.

h/t: The Guardian