Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Equal rights for all: PM Kamla

The Guardian newspaper reported on Tuesday that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar has said the proposed national gender policy would end discrimination against persons who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT).

The paper said he made the promise in a private letter, dated August 14, 2012, to Lance Price, executive director of the Kaleidoscope Trust, an NGO based in the UK which campaigns globally for gay/LGBT rights and diversity. 

Price served as media adviser to former British prime minister Tony Blair and has also worked as a BBC correspondent.

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

The Guardian said Price met Persad-Bissessar when he visited T&T for an International Press Institute (IPI) conference in June.

Section 8 of the Immigration Act bars entry to homosexuals, describing them as a “prohibited class.” Aids-Free World, an advocacy NGO, has challenged the controversial immigration law. 

Maurice Tomlinson, the groups legal adviser and a gay Jamaican lawyer, refused an invitation earlier this month to attend an HIV workshop in T&T citing the discrimination clause.

The Guardian said it spoke with Price by phone and he confirmed that the PM sent him a letter. However he noted that it was a private letter which he did not wish to make public. He added, “I found it very encouraging and thought it showed great understanding and leadership on the issue.”

The Guardian reported that it has obtained a copy of the letter to Price and published the contents:

“With respect to the concerns raised in your letter regarding aspects of T&T's Sexual Offences Act and the Immigration Act which may target persons who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), I wish to assure you that due consideration is being given to these issues by my Government.

“I do not support discrimination in any form against any individual, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation.

“I share your view that the stigmatisation of homosexuality in T&T is a matter which must be addressed on the grounds of human rights and dignity to which every individual is entitled under international law.

“As such I am pleased to inform you that I have mandated my Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development, Senator the Honourable Marlene Coudray to prepare and present a national gender policy to Cabinet over the coming months.

“It is expected that once adopted, this policy will forge the way forward for T&T as my Government seeks to put an end to all discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation...

“Please rest assured that my Government is doing its utmost to uphold the human rights of all citizens and residents of T&T as we remain committed to a democratic, people-centred approach to governance and development.”

No comments:

Jai & Sero

Jai & Sero

Our family at home in Toronto 2008

Our family at home in Toronto 2008
Amit, Heather, Fuzz, Aj, Jiv, Shiva, Rampa, Sero, Jai