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 (IPI) 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 adviser 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 by the T&T Guardian yesterday, via telephone 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.
Robinson added that the PM’s words in her letter to Price showed brave leadership. He said: “The kind of leadership we have been yearning for from Caribbean politicians... this is the kind of leadership that would make her a legacy.”
Robinson said he did not think a male politician could have done that because of masculinity and other issues. “It’s something about a woman that makes it possible, her maternal instinct, her style of leadership,”
Told bringing gay-rights legislation might cause opposition to Persad-Bissessar, Robinson said: “I don’t know when advocating human rights has marred the leadership of historic leaders. I hope she will be remembered as a brave Caribbean prime minister who acted for justice.”
Jason Jones, of the group I Am One, has been lobbying for full equal rights for the LBGT community.
He said: “We are aware the gender policy is about to be ratified by Cabinet and it’s a great thing the PM is seeking to end discrimination against this group.
“T&T is deemed homophobic and, internationally, this is not looking very good. The Prime Minister has our full approval and support.”
The T&T Guardian contacted Marlene Coudray, Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development, but her secretary referred us to the Communications Unit, which promised to respond.
Lisa Ghany of the Communications Department at the Office of the Prime Minister also promised to return our calls.
What the PM said: “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.”
Thanking Price for writing to her and expressing his concerns, she added: “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.”
Be vigilant about gay rights
I write on the trials at Nuremberg and gay rights.
After World War II the victorious Allies sought to bring the Nazi leadership to justice for their deeds such as the atrocities in the concentration camps. During the trial one of the Nazis' defence was that their conduct was legal under German law.
The Nazi leaders were nevertheless found guilty as the court appealed to a higher law which we all intuitively know, and which made the Nazis criminally liable though they had not broken their law. Atrocities remain atrocities, even when made legal by the state.
The United Nations Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) arose as a consequence of the atrocities of the war. It sought to define a minimum standard of human interaction.
The document, logically, was created within a particular moral framework and must be interpreted within that framework.
Without this it is of no value. The question to be answered is, which moral framework?
Although the UDHR is non-binding, treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which arise from it are binding on nation states.
This is where gay rights activists and feminists have seized an opportunity. Like the Nazis before them these groups are using the law to advance unsatisfactory behaviours; this time the UDHR itself.
Feminists and gay rights activists seek to interpret the UDHR within a moral framework in which autonomy is the highest virtue. United Nations treaties are not crafted within this framework as there would be no consensus for the treaties to go forward.
Nonetheless, feminists and gay rights activists aggressively seek to interpret United Nations treaties in a manner which reflects their position and claim that nations are in violation of their (feminists and LGBTIII) "rights", according to United Nations treaties .
This is the "rights by stealth" approach.
Using this strategy, feminists claim "rights" to abortion throughout pregnancy and the LGBT community claim "privacy rights" to the most bizarre and unhealthy sexual practices which are responsible for the alarming rates of HIV and STIs among men who have sex with men (MSM).
Other groups are already claiming "sexual rights for children regardless of age" in order to facilitate sexual access to children.
The "rights" strategy is brilliant as the term engenders sympathy, and "rights" create a legal capacity to punish people who show dissent. It is said that the "the price of freedom is vigilance".
Jamaicans must be vigilant, or Jamaica 100 will be radically different from what many of us would wish.
"What gawn bad a mawning cyaan come good a evening."
Dr W WestKgn 6
Peace and tolerance