Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bisessar

The Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Kamla Persad-Bisessar, has said she wants to “put an end to all discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation”.

She made the commitment in a letter to Lance Price, the Executive Director of the Kaleidoscope Trust, an international LGBT rights campaign.

“I do not support discrimination in any form against any individual, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation,” stated the prime minister.

Price met Persad-Bisessar in Port of Spain earlier this year. He then wrote to her urging her to remove those pieces of legislation that discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from the statute books.

In her response, the prime minister said that her government’s Gender Policy, currently under discussion in Cabinet, was expected to uphold the rights of all citizens.

“It is expected that once adopted, this policy will forge the way forward for Trinidad and Tobago as my government seeks to put an end to all discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation,” wrote Persad-Bisessar.

She further agreed in the letter that “stigmatisation of homosexuality in Trinidad and Tobago is a matter which must be addressed on the grounds of human rights and dignity to which every individual is entitled under international law”.

Homosexual acts are currently illegal in Trinidad and Tobago under the Sexual Offences Act. The maximum sentence is 25 years in prison. Under the Immigration Act gays and lesbians are legally barred from entering the country.

Price commented that “The Prime Minister’s letter to me is the clearest statement ever given by a Caribbean leader of the need to get rid of laws that undermine the basic human rights of LGBT people.

“I was delighted to read her unequivocal opposition to discrimination in any form against people because of how they were born. What she says indicates a position of strong moral leadership on this issue. We applaud her for what she has said and look forward with great interest to seeing the new Gender Policy when it is published.”

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