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Fired minister St Rose-Greaves: No gay marriage in gender policy
Despite protests and claims about plans to implement “gay marriage,” the draft gender policy contains only a few references to sexual orientation. It does not call for same-sex marriage to be legalised but does recommend that T&T should “decriminalise acts of sexual intimacy between consenting adults in the private sphere.”
It also advises: “The issue has arisen of the need for a protocol to ensure equitable access to safe terminations in state institutions where the physical and/or mental health of the pregnant woman are jeopardised.”
The draft document, dated June 2012, was e-mailed to the T&T Guardian on Wednesday. It focused on gender equity and equality between men and women. It took a gender perspective on things, such as poverty alleviation, climate change, labour and employment, health and well-being, among others.
Former gender minister Verna St Rose-Greaves sent the document to the T&T Guardian. The draft was produced before she left office last June. She told the T&T Guardian by phone yesterday that when she drafted the gender policy she did what was right and was willing to face whatever consequences would come her way for releasing the draft document.
When asked why she released the document, she said because she felt “tortured” by the many things happening in the country, as well as a personal experience she had recently.
Citing the death of little Faith Henry, who died as a consequence of being stung by a scorpion, 60 murders in 49 days, the destruction of farmers’ crops and many other problems, St Rose-Greaves said they could have been addressed through the gender policy.
She said: “A lot of people have not seen the document and I considered it to be a people’s document. The population needs to see this document. It needs to be shared with the public to fuel discussion on it.”
Although current Gender Minister Marlene Coudray was reported to have said in November last year that a gender and youth policy had been approved by Cabinet, the official document is yet to be released to the public.
The policy, St Rose-Greaves said, was a framework which would have enabled people to treat with their issues. She believes certain issues were put into the public domain which “short-circuited an important process.”
She added she wanted people to fight for the document. “Good things are being sabotaged,” she said. Faith-based organisations, she said, for their own narrow interests put the issue of gay marriage on the table when it was never on the table. The only thing up for discussion, she said, was protection from stigma and discrimination.
Many citizens, she said, were unaware that abortion was legal under certain circumstances. “Women going to the maternity ward and dying, children being harmed. The document would have brought us closer to realising solutions for these problems,” she added. The draft policy can be read online at www.guardian.co.tt
Verna’s call to Action
A letter which prefaced the draft gender policy e-mailed to the T&T Guardian read: “I have really tried to respect the process that we engaged in to bring the gender policy to fruition. It has now become painful in the extreme for me to participate in what seems to be a stalemate and a conspiracy of silence.
“My pain is poignant in the face of over 60 murders in 48 days; the badly mutilated corpse of a young woman; the horrendous burning of children’s hands by a mother evidently out of control; a child dead from a scorpion sting/rural neglect/uncaring health care; the tears of parents mourning the unexplained death of their newborn; accidents at our maternity wards; attempted rape of an infant in school, chopping in another; the disrespect of our elderly; children with medical emergencies unable to get help, all within a few days, and these are the ones that made it to the media.
“The list is extensive, the obscene price of fish, destruction of crops, the wanton waste and mindless spending... “I believe that we have not put up a good fight for our gender policy which sets out a framework to assist us in addressing many of these issues. “As such I have decided to release for public consideration the last draft of the document that I was privy to in June 2012.
“I ask that the document be read and circulated as widely as possible so that there is some measure of understanding of its usefulness. “We must engage in meaningful conversations which will direct serious action to ensure its final crafting, approval and implementation. It is a working draft to which many persons contributed. “I salute the Network of NGOs’ call for a demonstration on International Women’s Day (IWD), March 8, in support of the policy and I ask the population to support this activity. “Please let your presence be felt and your voice be heard. Do something.”
To view or download the draft TT Gender Policy (June 2012) document, click here.
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