The Faculty of Law at the St. Augustine Campus of the University of the West Indies recently hosted a public lecture on the topic “Lesbian and gay human rights in the Caribbean: Would decriminalization restrict religious freedom?”
The lecture was coincidentally held a few days after Roman Catholic priest Fr. Stephen Geofroy made a controversial contribution to the national debate on constitutional reform, by suggesting that LGBT rights should be included in the Trinidad and Tobago Constitution. The statement generated discussion throughout the country, including social media:
Support for the legal equality of LGBT people has come from a surprising place during a Trinidad and Tobago… http://t.co/k0Q8JKH3Yw
— CAISO (@CAISOTT) February 13, 2014
On the Trinidad Express Facebook page, a bevy of comments were posted on the issue.
Dale Orsoco registered his opinion about the lack of morality in the society:
All these things would come to pass, Just as in the days of Noah and the days of Lot immorality will reign and mankind will reap the results of such practice those who are proud of this despicable practice of Homosexuality continue on defending that abomination you will be rewarded for your support of it just as those of us will be rewarded for our stance against it, you can brag on how backward we are but the Old way is the Moral way….
Ria Ragoonanan quoted scripture in her comments on the issue:
All this does not surprise me. It is the times, read the book of Revelation. Jesus spoke everything in that book for the CHURCHES and how people will be blinded by the unholy trinity (the Devil, the Anti-Christ and the False Prophet). He warns us of what is to come and asks us to repent. Do some research into who today is the Dragon, the Beast and the False Prophet in Revelation 16:13. I am not surprised at all. All I will say is God loves each and everyone of us but not the sin. Repent before it is too late. God bless you all.
Others supported Fr. Geofroy's statements. Gerard Pinard had this to say:
Equal rights ought to be afforded to ALL citizens of our country, full stop. And, for all those quoting the Bible, remember that it also says ‘Judge not, lest ye be judged'.
Meanwhile, Dwane Salandy was more forceful in his comments:
I am appalled however not remotely surprised by the insanely ignorant, closeminded and uneducated comments on here. All of you preaching and quoting the bible… what about all the other ‘teachings’ in there? If one were to live by the literal example of the bible none of us would have tongues, hands or feet (and that's just one example). So many hypocrites on here. Smh
With a high level of public interest in the issue of LGBT rights and its impact on the society, the lecture at the Faculty of Law attracted a full house. Dean of the Faculty, Professor Rose-Marie Belle Antoine spoke of the role of the law as a tool to shape society, and the commitment of international law to protect against discrimination in all societies:
The feature address was delivered by Professor Robert Wintemute of King's College. The lecture focused on the human, legal and religious aspects of the debate on LGBT rights and religious freedom:
Attendees to the lecture were given an opportunity to ask questions and ventilate their concerns on the topic. The comments were fiery, with both sides of the debate well represented:
Professor Wintemute earlier presented the same topic at the Cave Hill (Barbados) and Mona (Jamaica) campuses of the University of the West Indies. Some netizens who attended the lecture posted their thoughts on Twitter:
— Dionne JacksonMiller (@djmillerJA) February 12, 2014
A foray into the ivory tower of LGBT human rights work. Lecture by Prof. Robert Wintemute of King's… http://t.co/1jSs6e0ZOJ
— Brendon J. O'Brien (@BrendonJOBrien) February 12, 2014
Do onto others… “Treat the lesbians and gays of Trinidad, how you'd like to see the Christians of Pakistan treated.”
— JN (@jasonnPOS) February 12, 2014
This lecture on gay rights @ UWI is shameful; this audience came straight from church.
— Heidi (@frida_haklo) February 10, 2014
Others posted their views on Facebook. Mike Eskada pointed out:
Religious freedom? They mean oppression ? Discrimination ..funny how these godly people act more like the devil.
The debate on equality and discrimination will no doubt continue to engage the attention of the region.