Trinidad y Tobago: la Corte despenaliza la homosexualidad

Trinidad y Tobago despenaliza la homosexualidad

Este jueves, un juez de un tribunal superior dictaminó que las leyes coloniales que prohíben la “sodomía” son inconstitucionales por atentar contra la libertad e integridad de los ciudadanos del país caribeño, por tal motivo determinó que deben ser anuladas.

La jueza Devindra Rampersad señaló en su sentencia que las leyes que prohíben la “indecencia grave” infringen los derechos de la población de lesbianas, gays, bisexuales y trans que habitan en las islas, la cual, se estima, está conformada por aproximadamente 100 mil personas.

”El tribunal declara que los artículos 13 y 16 de la Ley de Delitos Sexuales son inconstitucionales, ilegales, nulos inválidos y sin efecto en la medida en que estas leyes penalicen cualquier acto constitutivo de conducta sexual consensual entre adultos”, dijo Rampersad. .

De acuerdo con la ley vigente, los hombres que son acusados de practicar sexo penetrativo con otro hombre pueden enfrentar penas de hasta 25 años de prisión, mientras que cualquier otro acto sexual con otro hombre puede recibir como castigo una pena de cinco años de cárcel.

Originalmente, esta ley fue introducida durante la época de la colonia por los británicos que arribaron a la isla, pero desde entonces no se había realizado ninguna modificación al respecto. Con anterioridad, el Parlamento del país intensificó las penas máximas para los acusados de tener relaciones sexuales con personas de su mismo sexo; la primera vez fue en 1986, año en el que la pena se elevó a 10 años, mientras que la segunda ocasión fue en el año 2000, cuando la pena alcanzó los 25 años de prisión.

El fallo en contra de esta ley se hizo gracias que el reconocido activista local Jason Jones demandara al gobierno de Trinidad y Tobago con la intención de derogar estas leyes coloniales. La batalla legal inició en 2017, cuando presentó la demanda para eliminar la Ley Sodomía en las islas.

“Soy un criminal simplemente porque soy un hombre gay. Hay alrededor de 100 mil personas LGBT en mis islas, todas viviendo con la amenaza de una ley penal. Heredamos estas leyes de Gran Bretaña, pero mi propio Gobierno extendió la ley para incluir a las lesbianas después de que obtuvimos nuestra independencia”, señaló Jones, quien argumentó que la ley es inconstitucional e infringe su libertad de expresión y su privacidad.

El fallo representa un precedente para que otros países prohibicionistas de la región y el mundo entero, como Antigua, Barbados, Granada, Jamaica, Saint Kitts, Santa Lucía y San Vicente, den marcha atrás a las leyes que criminalizan las relaciones consensuales entre personas del mismo sexo.


Trinidad Decriminalizes Homosexuality In Landmark Court Case

The High Court of Trinidad & Tobago has thrown out the country’s buggery laws, which punished same-sex relations with up to 25 years in prison. The statute was rarely enforced, but had a chilling effect on the country’s LGBT population.

In February 2017, LGBT activist Jason Jones filed suit to have both Section 13 and Section 16 of the penal code nullified, claiming they violate his rights to privacy and freedom of expression. “I am doing this for the betterment of our nation, and for our future generations,” Jones said at the time.

According to CAISO, an LGBT rights group in Trinidad, Justice Devindra Rampersad found buggery and serious indecency laws unconstitutional and not reasonably justified as applied to adult consensual acts. Section 4 of the penal code, which covers sexual assault, will remain. Revisions to the code will be finalized in July.

Anti-LGBT groups ramped up their efforts in advance of Rampersad’s ruling, with demonstrations outside parliament and the courthouse. “Same sex marriage is a cancer,” said a spokesperson for the group T&T Cause. “We must keep the buggery laws, if it is removed it is a slippery slope to same-sex marriage.”

Members argued that if Jones won his case, it would put the rights of gay people ahead of the rights of heterosexuals—who, they maintain, “are superior.”

“We are saying having rights and being right are two different things. You must respect the rights of others,” said Bishop Victor Gill, calling homosexuality “unnatural and illegal.”

“We are saying to [the government] do not remove the buggery laws because once they are removed, it is the seamless introduction for the LGBT agenda into the legal and social fabric in our society,” Gill wrote on Facebook.

But social justice advocate Brendon J. O’Brien told Global Voices that “changing this law isn’t even about faith, or what particular people believe. It’s about maintaining the freedom, safety and dignity for every single Trinidadian.”

Prime Minister Keith Rowley told parliament last year that all Trinidadians deserve to live free of violence and harassment, “regardless of whom they sleep with.” He’d been reticent, though, to support a repeal of the buggery laws through the legislature.

Experts believe the ruling will almost assuredly be appealed. And, regardless, anti-LGBT sentiment will not disappear overnight in Trinidad & Tobago, where many hate crimes go unreported. In addition, Under Section 8 of the Immigration Act, homosexuals who are not citizens are technically not allowed to enter the country. It’s not generally enforced, but an attempt was made to bar Elton John from entering the country in 2007.

New Now Next

Gov’t to appeal buggery law ruling

Government intends to appeal a recent High Court ruling which deemed the country’s buggery laws as unconstitutional.

Minister in the Ministry of the Attorney General, Stuart Young, said during Thursday’s post-Cabinet briefing that the State plans to appeal a decision handed down by Justice Devindra Rampersad, who decided ruled in favour of human rights activist Jason Jones against the country’s buggery laws.

Rampersad said that Sections 13 and 16 of the Sexual Offences Act are “unconstitutional, illegal, null, void, invalid and are of no effect to the extent that these laws criminalise any acts constituting consensual sexual conduct between adults”.

Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi said to LoopTT that the State’s reason for appeal was to settle the law at the highest courts due to the heartfelt, varying views of many segments of society.

“The judgement today is a first instance judgement. This involves equality rights under the Constitution, in part, even though that was not the substance of the case per se, and therefore, in view of society’s strong views expressed on many different levels, it’s important that the law be settled as best as is possible.”

“It is always preferable to have the final courts of appeal pronounce upon matters so that citizens can rely upon a settling of the law. The government’s role in appealing is really quite simple, it is to cause a settling of the law.”

“If you were to divorce yourself from the judgement and simply look at the principle, it is necessary for the principles to be settled, and the best way, when there is a heartfelt view of matters where society is expressing views of different ends of the spectrum, it is imperative to settle the law and therefore the appeal is a matter of course.”

“If you were to leave the law unsettled, you run the risk of a second court, another High Court coming up with a contrary point of view. The particular law being tested is one of approximately 27 other laws that can be viewed to be discriminatory, and therefore if you were to go to court on another of these laws, a judge may come up with another point of view, both at High Court levels. That’s not uncommon…therefore, it’s important to settle the law, and the only way the law can be settled is through the appellate process,” he said.

The court said it will meet again to hear whether the offending sections should be struck down in their entirety along with the issue of costs.

In his judgement, Rampersad said the court must uphold the views of all, even if one person’s rights are infringed upon, but said the ruling is “not an assessment or denial of the religious beliefs of anyone”.

“This conclusion is not an assessment or 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, under the Constitution.”

“As a result, this court must and will uphold the Constitution to recognize the dignity of even one citizen whose rights and freedoms have been invalidly taken away.”

Under Section 13 of the Sexual Offences Act, a person who commits the offence of buggery is liable on conviction to imprisonment for twenty-five years.

The measure applies to intercourse between a consenting male and female or between two consenting males.


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