Rights for gays


Prime Minister Kamla Persad- Bissessar.

PORT OF SPAIN — Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has promised to end discrimination against the lesbian,‚gay, bisexual and transgender community in the proposed national gender policy.

She‚said so in a private letter, dated August 14, 2012, to Lance Price, which was obtained by the T&T‚Guardian.

Price is executive director of the Kaleidoscope Trust, an NGO based in the UK which campaigns globally for gay/LGBT rights and diversity. He served as media adviser to former British prime minister‚Tony Blair and has also worked as a BBC‚correspondent.

The PM’s letter to Price was in response to one he wrote to her complaining about T&T’s immigration law and the Sexual Offences Act, which he said discriminated against homosexuals.

Price met Persad-Bissessar when he visited T&T for an International Press Institute conference in June, at which the PM spoke. He wrote to her in July expressing concern about the stigmatisation of homosexuality in T&T.

Section 8 of the Immigration Act bars entry to homosexuals, describing them as a “prohibited class”.

Earlier this month, Aids-Free World, an advocacy NGO, challenged the controversial immigration law in court.

Maurice Tomlinson, a gay Jamaican lawyer, the group’s legal advisor for marginalised groups, carried the challenge forward. He received an invitation from the UNFPA to participate in an HIV workshop in T&T on December 3 and 4.

Contacted yesterday in London, Price said: “I did receive the letter from the Prime Minister but it was never made public. It was a personal letter from her to me and I can’t discuss the contents with you.

“I found it very encouraging and thought it showed great understanding and leadership on the issue.”

Colin Robinson, head of Coalition Advocating for the Inclusion of Sexual Orientation, wanted to hear what the PM had to say on the matter in her own words.

“I am looking forward to her taking leadership and making public statements on the matter,” he said. (Guardian)

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