Last edited: April 18, 2004

Gays in Trinidad & Tobago Get Legal Protection

Trinidad & Tobago’s Newsday, January 11, 2004
# 19-21 Chacon Street, Port of Spain, Trinidad, West Indies
Fax: 1-868-657-5008

By Sean Douglas

While the laws of Trinidad and Tobago prohibit male homosexual activity, the House of Representatives recently passed a Bill granting certain protection to gays and lesbians from the actions of foreign powers.

On Friday the House unanimously passed the Extradition (Commonwealth and Foreign Territories) (Amendment Number 2) Bill 2003. The Explanatory Notes to the Bill say it modernises and simplifies the laws relating to extradition for serious offences, defined as crimes for which punishment in both the extraditing country and in TT is over 12 months imprisonment or the death penalty.

Saying the Bill safeguards the rights of suspects, the Notes say it amends the original Extradition Act to protect the rights of gay people. The Notes state: “Clause Seven would amend Section Eight of the Act to prevent an accused person’s return to a declared Commonwealth territory or a declared foreign territory if it is determined that the request for his return is based on his sex, gender or sexual preference”.

In the original Act, protection from unjust extradition had only been granted to persons on basis of religion. The Bill also states that anyone accused of an offence against a Government Minister would not be able to claim in his defence that his actions were merely political. The Explanatory Notes state: “Persons accused or convicted of an offence against the life or person of a Head of Government or of a Minister of Government or of certain offences such as murder, manslaughter and kidnapping, would not be able to object to their extradition on the ground that the offence is of political character”.

During debate on the Bill there was no contention over either of these provisions, and after contributions from Minister of Foreign Affairs, Knowlson Gift, and Pointe-a-Pierre MP, Gillian Lucky, the Bill was passed unanimously.

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