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Gays must wait

SHERRYLYN CLARKE, [email protected]

Gays must wait

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NEW YOWK – PRIME MINISTER Kamla Persad-Bissessar says the “decriminalisation of homosexuality” in Trinidad and Tobago is not something her administration will seek to do because, “it would not be prudent for the Government to proceed in that direction at this time”.

“It’s too divided, there’s no consensus on that issue,” Persad-Bissessar said during an interview-styled forum at the Trinidad and Tobago Investment Forum at Pratt House in New York, USA.

Persad-Bissessar said it is not an issue for the Government to decide at this time but one that “the people must decide”.

“And, therefore it may require what is known as a referendum,” Persad-Bissessar said.

She was asked by National Public Radio anchor Lakshmi Singh about the issue after she delivered an address aimed at wooing investors in the United States to invest in the Trinidad and Tobago economy.

Singh, who said she is of Trinidad and Tobago heritage, posed several questions to the Prime Minister on issues ranging from the fuel subsidy to crime before raising an issue that she said is of concern to observers in the United States.

“There is an intensified campaign in the Caribbean among gay rights advocates to decriminalise homosexuality. I’m just wondering what has been your Government’s specific response to this growing concern?” Singh asked.

It was a reference to laws in Caribbean countries like Trinidad and Tobago that are still in existence which criminalise sexual relations among men even though in this country it is not really enforced as there has been a growing acceptance by many of the gay and lesbian lifestyles.

The Prime Minister acknowledged there are those in Trinidad and Tobago who do not support that lifestyle.

“That’s a very touchy, a very sensitive issue,” Persad-Bissessar said.

She said a gender policy was drafted by the previous PNM administration that has not seen the light of day “because the previous Government faced many persons who were against issues for decriminalising gays”.

She said her administration put it back out for public comment but “again it faced tremendous opposition, especially from the Roman Catholic group”.

Persad-Bissessar said there are in fact two issues involved.

“The decriminalising but also the issue of discrimination. That they should be not be discriminated against by reason of their preferences, their sexual orientation,” Persad-Bissessar said.