Trinidad And Tobago High Court Decriminalises Homosexuality

The win is now being contested by the government and is headed to the Privy Council where a decision could affect the status of homosexuality in a further 10 former British colonies.

Trinidad And Tobago High Court Decriminalises Homosexuality
Image: AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

A High Court in Trinidad and Tobago yesterday ruled that homosexuality is legal.

Activist Jason Jones made a High Court challenge in February 2017, arguing that Sections 13 and 16 of the Sexual Offences Act were unconstitutional.

The High Court ruled in Jones’ favour back in April but the government challenged the ruling.

On Thursday, the court did not overturn the colonial-era laws but it ruled consenting adults of the same sex cannot be prosecuted for engaging in sexual acts.

The Attorney General made a statement following the ruling, saying the government will now take it to the UK-based Privy Council, which is the highest court.

“The decriminalization of adult consensual intimacy is a huge step forward for our community”, Jones told Gay Star News.

“This is not about LGBT, this is about the rights and freedoms enshrined in our Constitution”, he told local media.

“We have been living in the shadows for far too long,” Jones told Gay Star News. But, he warned, “the fight for full equality continues.”

Hugh Lane

Jones has launched a crowdfunding for the Privy Council legal battle.

If he wins his case here, it could result in the decriminalisation of homosexuality in a further 10 former British colonies which also use Privy Council as a Supreme Court.

The court has denied a state request for a 45-day stay to lodge an appeal. However, Attorney General Al-Rawi said that the state will file an appeal according to local media.

“It is a matter of importance that must be settled by the highest Court of Appeal”, he told a local radio station.

“That is essential so because this particular pronouncement is in relation to one law only. There are in fact approximately 26 other laws which traverse the same issue,” Al-Rawi said.

Although the Council could take three to four years to make a decision, a win in favour of Jones could result in the decriminalisation of homosexuality in a further 10 former British colonies which also use Privy Council as a Supreme Court.

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