PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — The Government will be appealing the High Court ruling that was handed down on Thursday, stating that the buggery law is unconstitutional.
The announcement was made during Thursday’s post-Cabinet media briefing by Minister in the Office of the Prime Minister Stuart Young.
The High Court ruled it unconstitutional to impede on the rights of homosexual men and anal sex, a challenge that was brought against the state in 2017 by gay rights activist Jason Jones.
In the judgment delivered at the Hall of Justice here, High Court Judge Devindra Rampersad ruled that the law goes against the basic rights of any citizen to enjoy the freedom of privacy and family life.
He said it was unfortunate when society, in any way, values a person or gives a person their identity based on their race, colour, gender, age or sexual orientation.
“That is not their identity. That is not their soul. That is not the sum total of their value to society or their value to themselves,” said Rampersad.
He added that the experiences of apartheid in South Africa and the USA during and after slavery, “have shown the depths that human dignity has been plunged as a result of presupposed and predetermined prejudices based on factors that do not accept or recognise humanity.”
“To now deny a perceived minority their right to humanity and human dignity would be to continue this way of thinking, this type of perceived superiority based on the genuinely held beliefs of some.”
“This conclusion is not an assessment of denial of the religious beliefs of anyone. This court is not qualified to do so. However, this conclusion is a recognition that the beliefs of some, by definition, is not the belief of all, and in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, all are protected, and are entitled to be protected, under the constitution.
As a result, this court must and will uphold the constitution to recognise the dignity of even one citizen whose rights and freedoms have been invalidly taken away…,” Rampersad said.
In the challenge against the state, Jones claimed that the long-standing legislation contravenes his constitutional rights to privacy and freedom of thought and expression in addition to being in direct contradiction to this country’s international human rights obligations.
“It was a stunning victory for human rights and for all Trinidad and Tobago citizens …I think we must all come together now after this judgement and embrace each other in true love and respect and honour for each citizen. This is not about LGBT, it is about the rights and freedoms that are enshrined in our constitution and I hope that everybody will come away with this calmly and collectively, looking at what the future should be for our nation. We have to now start to pull together and I think today is a starting moment for us to do that,” said Jones, following the ruling.
When the ruling was filed last year, Jones told reporters that he decided to file the lawsuit due to his personal experience as a homosexual in Trinidad and Tobago including him being disowned by his family forcing him to migrate to the United Kingdom.
“I don’t wish to shove a gay agenda down you (the public) throat or attack your morals, religion or spirituality, I am doing this for the betterment of our nation, and for our feature generations,” he then said.
The lawsuit is one of several landmark cases filed by Caribbean LGBT activists challenging regional homophobic laws.
In 2016, Jamaican lawyer Maurice Tomlinson challenged the immigration laws in Trinidad and Tobago and Belize which allow for refusal of entry to regional homosexuals visitors.
While the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) dismissed his case, both Governments admitted that the laws were not enforced by their immigration officials.
Later that year, Belize’s Supreme Court struck down that country’s sodomy laws, after a case similar to Jones’ was filed by a local activist.
However, unlike Trinidad and Tobago Belize did not have a saving clause protecting its legislation from review.