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King wants debate on same-sex marriages

Thursday, February 17, 2011
Gender Affairs Minister Mary King

Debate on same-sex marriage must start and must be taken throughout the country, Gender Affairs Minister Mary King said yesterday. She made the statement in the Senate during debate on the Statutory Authorities Amendment Bill. Several senators brought up the issue of same-sex marriage where clauses concerning co-habitants were concerned in the bill. King, who noted how the issue of same-sex unions was being dealt with in the UK, said: 

“The debate must start and we must ensure that debate is taken throughout the country and when the recommendations come in they will be taken to the Cabinet for decisions.” Finance Minister Winston Dookeran said the issue of  same-sex marriages was something Parliament would have to adjudicate upon at some time. He said there were laws on the books concerning co-habitation and “we don’t want to contradict one piece of legislation with another.”

Independent Senator Corinne Baptiste-McKnight agreed the Parliament would have at some point to grapple with the issue of same-sex union. But, she said, the laws and recognition of fact on the issue were moving in a direction which the Government seemed to be bucking. Baptiste-McKnight was interrupted by Government Senate leader Subhas Panday who reminded her of  “chapter 52 of the book of  Leviticus.”

She retorted: “Leviticus is a Christian something that existed long ago. We are here, today. “And if you want to go back to Leviticus now there are many, many occasions in which I will take you, not only to Leviticus, but to the Ark, back to the Ark, right. “So you playing fas and loose. Don’t do that with me. My thing is the English language.” Independent Senator Helen Drayon said T&T’s constitution was more progressive than Leviticus. She quoted the constitution on the individual’s rights, particularly the right to equality of treatment by public authorities.  She asked why Government was going backward with the issue of co-habitation in the bill. Government Senator King said Government would like to get definitive debate going on same-sex unions with recommendations.