Foe of Trinidad buggery law gets his day in court

Opponents of Trinidad’s buggery law presented their case yesterday at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain. A ruling is expected April 12 from Justice Devindra Rampersad, who is presiding over the case.

Jason Jones arrives at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain, Trinidad, for the Jan. 30 hearing on his lawsuit seeking to overturn the country's buggery law. (Rattan Jadoo photo courtesy of Newsday)
Jason Jones arrives at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain, Trinidad, for the Jan. 30 hearing on his lawsuit seeking to overturn the country’s buggery law. (Rattan Jadoo photo courtesy of Newsday)

Newsday of Trinidad & Tobago reported on the two sides’ arguments yesterday at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain.

British Queen’s Counsel Richard Drabble
is representing Jason Jones, an “openly homosexual man” who is challenging the law. He was born in Trinidad and currently living in the United Kingdom:

Sections 13 and 16 of the Sexual Offences Act, which criminalise buggery and indecency between adults, are not reasonably justifiable in a democratic society, Drabble said. For Jones, as a homosexual male, Section 13 breaches his rights. There is no justification for the underlying criminalisation of sexual acts.

Drabble also argued that the long-standing legislation contravened Jones’ constitutional rights to privacy and were in direct contradiction to the country’s international human-rights obligation.

“What aim was the legislation pursuing?” he asked. He labelled the law “undemocratic legislation.”

Fyard Hosein, SC, lead counsel for the Attorney General, said this was not a case of morality or homosexuality, but law.

“It doesn’t matter how moral or archaic the law is. … The court has to uphold the law,” he said, warning, also, that the court did not have the power to modify the law.

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, and editor/publisher of Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

3 Comments

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  1. What a strange argument that lead council for the AG uses…… “the court has to uphold the law, regardless of what the law it is”……… If and when that be true and fact, then the laws as installed by the pre-UK laws were to be in place still also! Laws that gave access to piracy, laws that allowed and permitted selling of slaves, laws that stem from times Trinidad did not exist as Trinidad!
    Laws that are to be upholded by the courts are laws that respect the rights of the people living on Trinidad, privacy rights and equality of people, democratic laws that respect the rights of all people living! Trinidad is party to several international treties, part of several international organizations that have laws and rules that subject the people of Trinidad to democratic regulations, not laws that exclude certain people of generally acknowledged and accepted rules, like marriage of one person to another person out of love, not because of a certain religion! It is generally accepted that sexual orientation is a matter of privacy, and that a human being loving another human is also a matter of privacy!
    Laws based on a certain religion that discriminate against a certain group because of their sexual orientation are discriminatory, and are to be taken from the books! And it are the courts to decide on and about these laws, to judge if these laws are right or wrong, in 2018!

  2. So, no law should ever be challenged, because the law is the law? I understood one of the purposes of the judicial branch of government in a democracy was to apply checks and balance controls on the legislature or the presidency when, for whatever reason, it goes too far. Otherwise, Donald Trump, for instance could do absolutely what he likes – as opposed to the many curtailments that the judiciary has put on many of his excesses so far. There is hope…

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