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Gay facts and straight lies
The majority of people who oppose equal civil rights for gays are not very educated. A 2009 survey conducted by the UWI-St Augustine ANSA McAL Psychological Research Centre for the Ministry of the People and Social Development said so. It was titled “Survey on the Degree of Conformity to Norms and Values in Trinidad and Tobago.”
Under the section “perceptions of homosexuality,” it found that while 69 per cent of respondents overall were unsupportive of equal rights for gays, that support varied by educational attainment. Whereas only 15 per cent of primary-educated persons said they supported equal rights to gays, nearly three times that figure of tertiary-educated respondents voiced support.
So, it seems, some education is necessary. Here’s a lie: people choose to be gay. Here’s a fact: being gay is not a choice just as straight people don’t choose to be straight. Here’s another lie: gay parents can make their children gay. Here’s another fact: children of gay parents are no more likely to be gay than those of straight parents as a direct consequence of the first fact.
Here’s a thought: gay marriage will ruin family life and bring social destruction. Here’s an example: in New England where I live, the majority of states have legalised gay marriage. They enjoy the lowest crime rate in the US, one of the lowest unemployment rates, the most highly educated population and the divorce rate has dropped to pre-World War II levels.
A lie: T&T is not “that badly off” when it comes to laws against gays. A fact: T&T law criminalises consensual sex “per anum” by both gay and straight couples. It criminalises such sex acts to the same extent it does bestiality (25 years’ imprisonment). T&T’s punishment is 250 per cent greater than that of Jamaica.
There’s more. By law, singers who happened to be gay, like Sir Elton John for the Plymouth Jazz Festival, cannot be allowed into the country. He would be considered in the same category as “prostitutes, idiots, imbeciles, feeble-minded persons, persons suffering from dementia and insane persons.”
Another myth? There is no “institutionalised discrimination” of gays in T&T? The facts: a person has no legal recourse in T&T if any of the following occurs because he or she is gay: is fired from a job; is denied opportunities for promotion, transfer, training or any other job benefit; is expelled from or denied admission to a school; is denied a bank account, loan or credit; is turned away at a hotel or entertainment venue; is denied access to use of public space; is evicted from a dwelling.
‘Natural’ & other church arguments
It is no stretch of the imagination that the less information one has, the more likely it is that one would vehemently and blissfully oppose things about which one doesn’t know. The sad part of this is that those people and organisations are far more vocal and influential. Like the church and its followers: Pentecostal, Catholic, Open Bible, closed Bible, Assembly, scatter, New Light, Divine Light, plenty light and others. They have long been vociferous in their opposition to equal civil rights for all.
They preach contradictory messages of “love the sinner, hate the sin” from their contradictory book of laws, the Bible. They spend thousands in newspaper ads about “abominations,” “hateful things in the eyes of God” and “unnatural” people and acts when their professed mission is nation-building, God’s work and world peace.
Their continued assertion of things “natural” being God’s way as opposed to the “unnatural” things like gays brings into question the very natural process of how Adam, Eve and their second cousin Steve were brought to life. Not very smart.
Religious leaders, public personalities and radio DJs-cum-social analysts have spent every given opportunity in the media talking about this one issue more than any other.
Simultaneously, they assert, like Sat Maharaj did when he spoke at length about gays as “oddities” and “sexual deviations,” that there are “more pressing concerns in T&T” than equal rights for all citizens. Indeed there are. The nearly 4,000 citizens murdered in the past decade certainly warrant their media time and money.
The fact that the church’s very congregation, young black males, are more likely to die by homicide than by traffic accident, Aids, suicide and gayness combined, should get their focus. Even in the presentation of information on the topic, something sinister or perhaps plain stupid emerges.
An Express story last week was headlined “Govt refuses to bend on gay sex.” Perhaps the writer of the headline was trying to be clever. And Tony Deyal, long known for his wit, wrote on the topic under the headline “Touching bottom,” where he referred to two gay men caught in a compromising position on a cruise ship’s “poop deck” as “in deep poop.” Shakespeare would bite his thumb at that one.
Politicians are calling for public discussion on the issue of equal civil rights for all, including for gays. With all the ta-ta being bandied about on the topic what we really need is more education and fewer myths. Let’s start the discussion there.
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