OutRight Action International reports that Judge Devindra Rampersad of the High Court of Trinidad and Tobago ruled today (Thursday, April 12) that Sections 13 and 16 of that country’s Sexual Offenses Act are unconstitutional as applied to adult consensual acts, a motion that stands to decriminalize homosexuality in the country.
A final judgment will be made in July.
Jason Jones, an LGBTIQ activist in both his native country of Trinidad and Tobago and the United Kingdom filed a lawsuit in February 2017 against the attorney general of Trinidad and Tobago, challenging the colonial-era sodomy laws. Jones claimed in his lawsuit that these two sections violate his right to privacy and freedom of expression.
Kenita Placide, Caribbean advisor with OutRight Action International, said: “The judge came down on the right side of history in this case by striking down the buggery law and ruling it as unconstitutional. The activism and advocacy will continue in Trinidad and Tobago and across the Caribbean until equality for LGBTIQ people is guaranteed.
“With positive rulings in Belize and Trinidad and Tobago, the movement will carry the momentum to other parts of the region.”
Sections 13 and 16 of the Sexual Offenses Act prohibit “buggery” and “acts of serious indecency” between two men, with punishments of up to 25 years in prison for those found guilty. The sodomy laws are part of a tradition of homophobia in the country, OutRight said, with anti-LGBT laws — such as section 8 of the Immigration Act prohibiting homosexuals who are not citizens from entering the country — still in place.