Any sexuality besides heterosexuality is "unnatural".
FALSE: Pronouncements of various types of sexualities is well documented in almost all species in the animal kingdom (lions, giraffes, dolphins, reptiles etc). The commonly held myth that sex is solely for reproduction has been disproven time and time again. As a matter of fact if this were the case acts such as kissing commonly practiced by humans would also be deemed "unnatural" as it serves no part of the reproductive purpose.
The jury is still out on the cause of homosexuality but what is accepted is that it is a combination of nature (that is being born that way) and nurture (how one is brought up).
Religion and sexuality cannot be reconciled
FALSE: All over the world in every major religion cultural and historical context of religious texts have been factored in to arrive at liberal translations that keep the spirit and the true essence of religion while at the same time welcoming everyone regardless of sexuality. The United Church of Canada, the Lutheran Church in many Nordic countries, some Sufi Islamic schools and many Hindu sects in Nepal and India all welcome LGBTQ persons into their congregation.
Sexual variance is minor
FALSE: Conventional knowledge and generally accepted measures estimate that one in every ten men is gay and in women one in every 14. More importantly, however, are the measures of sexual activity rather than orientation, men who have sex with men or MSMs are estimated to range from two to four in every ten.
This is an extremely high figure and thus to say that this issue is minor would be completely inaccurate. In the case of T&T with an estimated population of 1.3 million if the conventional measures were employed that would equal 65,000 gay men and 46,429 lesbian women not factoring in bisexuals etc. To bring home this point, that is the equivalent of around four electoral seats in parliament.
The current laws are not problematic.
FALSE. As I showed in the previous columns these laws have the effect of rendering a large segment of the population "illegal". What this does is force a large number of persons into the "underground" and subjects them to discrimination, ridicule and the ever present possibility of arrest. Furthermore as has been demonstrated by numerous studies, HIV and other social ills will continue to multiply as the taboo around sexuality prevents sex education for practicing safe sex and access to testing and treatment.
By forcing LGBTQ persons to get married, society is creating dysfunctional marriages and families that many times end in divorce or break down completely.
To say that this situation is not problematic is to ignore the recent spate of teenage suicides in the US where children as young as 13 took their own lives in the face of ridicule and bullying for their sexuality.
There exists a devious "gay" agenda
FALSE. From the pulpit has been preached many times that decriminalisation of homosexuality will in some way lead to an explosion of the practice and that "everyone will be recruited". First and foremost this is downright ridiculous as countries that have the most liberal sex laws still have the same sexual statistics as more conservative ones — the LGBTQ population still remains around one in ten. Next the myth that "gays do not reproduce and need to recruit your children" is just that — myth. It is heterosexual parents who continue to make non-heterosexual children and even conservative, religious, strict "god-fearing" homes produce homosexual children.
There is nothing to be gained from decriminalisation
FALSE. Apart from the fact that it is socially and morally right not to criminalise a segment of the population who are engaging in consenting, adult, human same sex relationships the potential benefits to be gained are undeniable.
Many countries in the developing world are actively courting "Pink Money" which was projected to be US$743 billion in 2010, that is 16 times our national budget in purchasing power of the LGBTQ community.
Very conservative countries such as Nepal, Israel and even Islamic Lebanon's capital Beirut are benefiting from travellers, investments etc, from Pink Money.
In terms of human capital in recent years it has been recognised that a large number of well educated, bright and promising young people have been fleeing the developing world because of the criminalisation of their sexuality. T&T is no different as each year we haemorrhage some of our best young minds to the first world as they can no longer live in the shadows of their home country.
Should the current laws be reversed there will be a higher chance at convincing our precious human resource to stay at home and contribute and develop our country.
It has not been easy to write on sexuality as some of the responses I got were so full of hate that they shook my faith in the decency of the human race.
On the other hand I received an overwhelmingly positive response from people in T&T and many abroad. "Easy" is not the reason why millions are being spent on education, the youth of the nation are the ones who must tackle issues such as these head on. To say that something should not be spoken of is to try and temper free speech and this is a dangerous road to traverse as free speech is the foundation of democracy. My intent is to raise public awareness and public discourse about this topic that we can no longer ignore. Our nation has a tendency to turn a blind eye to many things around us and when it hits home we are taken completely by surprise. These articles and the ones that will follow will try to save us this distress.
It is hoped that those in authority are paying attention.
• Rajiv Gopie won the President's Medal for Business and Modern Studies in 2006. He is a Bachelor of Arts candidate in International Studies and Social/Cultural Anthropology at the University of Toronto, Canada