Five years ago, a survey funded by the British High Commission and conducted by the Barbados-based Caribbean Development Research Services Inc (CADRES), revealed the majority of people in T&T are tolerant or accepting of homosexuals rather than homophobic. It had also found LGBTQI issues are not as politically dangerous as politicians think.
Five and a half years later, the LGBTQI community hit a milestone when in April 2018, the T&T High Court declared the country's buggery law unconstitutional, as it infringed on the rights of LGBT citizens and criminalised consensual sexual acts between adults.
On July 28, 2018, it celebrated yet another landmark when various groups from the LGBTQI community, under the banner Pride TT, came together to stage its inaugural "Pride Parade."
On Friday for a second time, celebrations were held which began with a trans flag raising at the Parliament and culminated with a fair, mini-concert, and street parade.
This year’s theme was dubbed ‘Equity and Equality for All', with a special focus on the trans-community, often alienated and unable to practice their human right to live their truth.
Pride TT’s chief coordinator Rudolph Hanamji lauded all who made the celebration happen and thanked all stakeholders involved who would have put aside their "personal feelings" and socio-economic differences to help the LGBTQI community continue its fight for complete social acceptance and inclusion.
But even with these turning points, one thing still remains undone and the LGBTQI community wants policymakers to understand that until the Equal Opportunity Act (EOA) is amended to include sexual preference and orientation, this group is likely to face continued discrimination.
Speaking to Sunday Guardian via telephone, Colin Robinson, director of Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation: Sex and Gender Justice (Caiso), said discrimination against LGBTQI people was real.
"There is no doubt discrimination happens to LGBTQI people, just as it happens on the basis of race and gender and religion. It is one form of discrimination that happens. We are not saying that it happens every time but discrimination happens in T&T and it happens to different kinds of people for different reasons," Robinson explained.
He added, however, like the protection it offers for other types of discrimination, LGBTQI people do not have protection under the EOA because it not only does not include them but it out rightly excludes them.
The EOA prohibits discrimination to promote equality of opportunity between people of different status. "It chracterises "status" as the sex, race, ethnicity, origin (including geographical origin), religion, marital status, or
disability, but categorically adds that "sex" does not include sexual preference or orientation.
At the same time, Robinson pointed out, that the EOC’s view was different, as it has said the act should be amended. However, this could only be done via Parliament.
He said Caiso has been lobbying for the past eight years for this and was happy that other groups have now joined in the fight along the way.
Caiso has been spearheading the campaign—Add All Three, which continues to agitate for the amendment of the EOA to include sexual orientation.