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Final verdict still to come

Published: 
Sunday, April 15, 2018

The legal issues surrounding Thursday’s decision by High Court Judge Devindra Rampersad regarding T&T’s homophobic buggery laws are still to be determined on appeal.

This was the reminder given by the Law Association of T&T (LATT) in a release issued yesterday.

“The decision is to be appealed and as such the final verdict on the constitutionality of the law is yet to be determined,” the association said.

The ruling saw members of the LGBTQI community celebrating what they expect will be their new-found freedom to conduct their lives without being discriminated against. However, the state ha indicated it will appeal the ruling.

LATT said it is important to appreciate, however, that it is not in dispute that the criminalisation of same-sex, consensual sexual relations infringes important constitutional rights.

“The legal issues to be determined on appeal are whether a law which admittedly violates constitutional rights is nevertheless saved from being struck down by a constitutional provision which protects old colonial laws, and whether the legislature by a special three-fifths majority can override what they know to be a constitutional violation,” the association said.

In the debate which follows, the association has urged all concerned “to exercise their undoubted right to free expression, especially in relation to the learned judge’s decision, in a lawful and respectful manner.”

According to the LATT, it has long been settled that laws which criminalise sexual relations between consenting adults are not sanctioned by modern constitutions in liberal democratic societies.

“Such laws violate the individual’s rights to privacy and to equality before the law,” LATT said.

The effect of Justice Rampersad’s decision, LATT further explained, “is to carve out an equal, private space into which the state ought not to intrude and to recognise the right of every individual to determine for him or herself the person he or she chooses to be.”

“Implicit in the judge’s decision is the declaration that whatever we each do in our private life is our own business, that the life we each choose to live is to be determined by our own conscience and our own sense of right and wrong,” it said.

“The overarching message is tolerance and the rejection of the idea that those who make up the legislature for the time being have the right to use the criminal law to impose their own religious or moral beliefs on the rest of us.”

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