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Will Trinidad & Tobago ditch anti-gay laws this summer?

Will Trinidad & Tobago ditch anti-gay laws this summer?

Laws in Trinidad and Tobago may soon decriminalize gay sex following a court ruling on April 13 of this year. Judge Devindra Rampersad said sections of the Sexual Offences Act, which prohibited “buggery” and “serious indecency” between two men, criminalized consensual same-sex activity between adults and were unconstitutional.

This summer in July, a final judgment on how to deal with the sections of the act is expected, and if all goes the way the LGBT groups are hoping, soon Trinidad and Tobago will be able to welcome a wider spectrum of travelers with open arms. This is sure to boost tourism in the islands and improve the economy.

The case was brought in 2017 by Jason Jones, an LGBT activist who was born in T&T but currently lives in in Britain. In an online campaign, he said he wanted to challenge laws inherited while the country was under British rule.

Trinidad and Tobago became a republic in 1976. Last year, it was one of 5 countries which amended its laws to ban child marriage. But it has no laws protecting LGBT people, and rights groups say many LGBT people fear being open about their views or orientation. Being convicted of buggery carries a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison, according to the law.

Colin Robinson, director of the Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation, warned there was a long way to go. “I don’t want to be alarmist, but I expect that this will take time for people to accept, and we hope the violence is minimal,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone from Trinidad and Tobago.

The group, which works for justice on sex and gender issues, said it expected the government would appeal the ruling.

Earlier this year in February, the nearby island of Bermuda became the world’s first nation to reverse a law allowing same-sex marriage. LGBT activists feared that would set a dangerous precedent for gay rights and reverberate far beyond the region.

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