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Gays take to PoS streets today

Published: 
Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Gays and transgender people will take to the streets of Port-of-Spain today walking to 16 ministries to mark the country’s first observance of the  International Day against Homophobia and Transphobia. The Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation (CAISO) stated that  today’s event would be the first observance of its kind. On May 17, over 50 countries around the world celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO), marking the declassification of homosexuality as a mental illness by the World Health Organisation (WHO) 21 years ago. The international celebration of a day against homophobia was spearheaded by a Caribbean man, Martiniquan Georges-Louis Tin, CAISO noted. CAISO is a local non-governmental organisation that advocates for dignity, equality and full citizenship for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) people. The group has also lobbied for advocating for inclusion of sexual orientation in nation-building policies.

CAISO’s Colin Robinson said gay, lesbian and transgender people would walk through the streets of downtown Port-of-Spain delivering packages to the offices of 15 Government ministers. Robinson said: “The packages contain: a gift that playfully humanises their message; information on IDAHO; and a list of six politically feasible steps the Government can take to strengthen the promise of equality for all citizens and address the violence, discrimination and social vulnerability caused by homophobia.” Starting at 10 am, the group will kick off venues with the Foreign Affairs Ministry at Queen’s Park.

Also on the route—in the following order—is the Labour, Justice, Science, Energy, Planning, Finance, People and Social Development, Trade, Legal Affairs, Public Administration, National Security, Tourism, Attorney General and Works  Ministries. Robinson said the annual event was recognised in a number of countries, including Brazil and Cuba, and includes a month of government-sponsored activities, and was observed in Jamaica and in Guyana, this year for the sixth year. Yesterday, new Planning and Genders Affairs Minister Dr Bhoe Tewarie said:

“I feel it’s a positive sign they would act on their own behalf to call attentiom to the issue and certainly if you believe that discrimination of any form is not a good thing, it’s a reasonable position for them to take, that by sensitising society they help to address the issue of potential discrimination.

“I am aware the Gender Affairs Minister has been addressing the issue and I’m aware there are there issues that have emerged as being contentious in the sense there are strong views about it taking different points of view.” Tewarie said,  “Given that I just entered the Ministry I haven’t been able to look at the policy itself, nor have I been have to examine the contentions. But I think that in a situation where policy is being made, and there is controversy or differences of opinion, the only way forward is discussions and dialogue.  “I’d be willing to meet with anybody who has any kind of issue they would like to present. In any resolution of the issue they will have to be part of the process.”