17 Sept 2018

The fall of it all

5b9db30438973.imageMarket Facts and Opinions (MFO) carried out a survey in which 83% of respondents said that same-sex relationships in Trinidad and Tobago should not be legal. I have bad news for those people…

You’ll be dragged by the scruff of the neck, kicking and screaming in protest, into the 21st century. The tide is already against you, as is the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago (“the Constitution”).

Let me begin with the Constitution; Chapter 1, section 4 in particular, where the rights of citizens are given voice:

“It is hereby recognised and declared that in Trinidad and Tobago there have existed and shall continue to exist, without discrimination by reason of race, origin, colour, religion or sex, the following fundamental human rights and freedoms, namely:

(a) the right of the individual to life, liberty, security of the person and enjoyment of property and the right not to be deprived thereof except by due process of law;

(b) the right of the individual to equality before the law and the protection of the law;

(c) the right of the individual to respect for his private and family life;

(d) the right of the individual to equality of treatment from any public authority in the exercise of any functions;

(e) the right to join political parties and to express political views;

(f) the right of a parent or guardian to provide a school of his own choice for the education of his child or ward;

(g) freedom of movement;

(h) freedom of conscience and religious belief and observance;

(i) freedom of thought and expression;

(j) freedom of association and assembly; and

(k) freedom of the press.”

Clearly, the Sexual Offences Act is incompatible with the rights at b, c and d. So is the Equal Opportunity Act 2000 where on page 8 it defines ‘sex’ as not including sexual orientation.

imageParagraph 144 of Justice Rampersad’s judgment in Jones v AG of Trinidad and Tobago and others (2018) quotes extensive case law where discrimination of homosexuality was found to be incompatible with modern human rights in democratic societies.

My take on this is that the human rights aspect will be given the importance it demands and any incompatibility with other parts of the Constitution and/or statutes (Acts of Parliament) will result in amendments to preserve the human rights aspect, since the fundamental rights are protected within the Constitution.