Both death threats and support for LGBTI life in Trinidad

Trinidad welcomes activists marching for the human rights of LGBTQIA people — at least in the context of the weekend’s women’s rights march — but the story is much different for an LGBT activist who sued to overturn the country’s anti-sodomy law.

The Washington Blade reports in this article, shortened and modestly re-edited here:

Activist threatened for challenging Trinidad & Tobago sodomy law

Jason Jones (Photo courtesy of St. Lucia Times)

Jason Jones says he has received dozens of death threats after challenging Trinidad and Tobago’s sodomy law. (Photo courtesy of St. Lucia Times)

A Caribbean LGBT activist has received almost 50 death threats following his lawsuit against the attorney general of Trinidad and Tobago to remove the country’s anti-gay sodomy laws.

Trinidad and Tobago is among the 74 countries around the world [by this blog’s count, 77+] with laws against same-sex sexual activity between consenting adults. Jason Jones, who has been an activist in both Trinidad and Tobago and the U.K. for 28 years, filed a claim against the state on February 23 contesting Sections 13 and 16 of the country’s Sexual Offenses Act (SOA) that criminalizes sodomy between consensual adults and serious indecency, which is defined as a sexual act outside of intercourse involving genitals. …

Since he has filed his case, Jones has been harassed online by people threatening to hurt and kill him. However, he says many people in his support circles are not taking his threats seriously.

“People have threatened to throw petrol on me and set me on fire,” Jones told the Washington Blade in Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago. “They are writing ‘boom bye bye battyboy’ on my Facebook page. How can I ignore that? Some of these threats are real. I haven’t been able to sleep properly. Every strange call, odd sound or anything remotely off has me frightened.”

He said that numerous times people, particularly young boys, have accosted him in the street, calling him derogatory homophobic slang like “bullerman” and “batty boy.”

“I walk down Fredrick Street and a group of school children are shouting ‘bullerman’ at me,” Jones told the Blade. “I don’t know if they recognize me because of the lawsuit or the way I dress, but I am not going to change my life because other people are now uncomfortable.”

Since the death threats, Jones has moved out of the home he was staying at to protect his roommate, and has hired personal body guards to protect him around the clock. He said he found his hotel room ransacked when he returned after speaking with the Blade.

Along with the legal proceedings, Jones is conducting community-based advocacy programs around the country to educate and build LGBT support systems in Trinidad and Tobago. He intends to take his activism to other Caribbean islands — particularly those that have little LGBT activism. [For more information, read the full article in The Washington Blade.]

Participants display flags and placards, including a rainbow flag, during last weekend's women's rights march in Trinidad & Tobago. (Curtis Chase photo courtesy of the Trinidad & Tobago Express)

Participants display flags and placards, including a rainbow flag, during last weekend’s women’s rights march in Trinidad & Tobago. (Curtis Chase photo courtesy of the Trinidad & Tobago Express)

The Trinidad & Tobago Express reports:

Gay pride at women’s rights march

… there is a change sweeping the country says SLF


The Silver Lining Foundation [has] been heartened by an “overwhelming” show of support for [LGBT] rights at the weekend’s “Life in Leggings Women’s Rights March” at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain.

The Foundation in a statement on Monday, said it had noted a large contingent of supporters at the march, many waving rainbow pride flags, the symbol of LGBT pride and support.

Supporters also hoisted pro-LGBT signs and chanting the slogan “gay rights are human rights”.

The Foundation said this not only demonstrated a monumental moment for the local gay rights movement but also signaled a tide of change sweeping through the country, with more citizens welcoming diversity, celebrating inclusion and seeking equality.

The Foundation, which also works to prevent suicide as a result of bullying, also works for the inclusion of LGBTQIA youths.

Executive Director at SLF, Jeremy Edwards, stated: “Our presence at this march was intended to stand in solidarity with women across our nation on the common themes of discrimination, exclusion and inequality, which continues to form the everyday reality for LGBTQIA citizens of this nation. This Women’s March provided the often unseen LGBTQIA community a welcomed opportunity to maintain a larger presence of visibility against adversaries opposed to their human rights, of which SLF, alongside other organisations, was extremely proud to lead.”

For more information, read the full article in Trinidad & Tobago Express.

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