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T&T UN Ambassador Makes A Mockery of Obligations, remains vigilant against any sexual orientation and gender policies

A member of the ministry of foreign affairs provided a short video clip to local SOGI advocacy group CAISO, the program, titled “Diplomatic Encounters” with interviewer C's Gideon Hanoomansingh speaks to Trinidad and Tobago’s Ambassador to the United Nations Rodney Charles. The ministry representative depicted it as "a clear outline of what Trinidad & Tobago's position is on this issue" with regards to issues regarding sexual orientati

Avatar of Alessia Valenza

22nd June 2012 10:37

Alessia Valenza


As opinionated discussion continues to arise from recent attention from the #AddAll3 Rally, irrational organized abuse from religious extremists, given the media spotlight, has turned their target onto the Gender Policy (which has yet to be debated in parliament) for fears of legislative protection towards people of non-heterosexual orientation and that "the bottom line behind those in support of gay rights and gender policy changes was all about sex and how they want to have it."[1]

The UN Ambassador; Rodney Charles after questioned about the nation’s political policy on gender issues vs. human rights (as they are apparently are separate and distinct entities) gave his strongly prejudices that in the present democracy he would be vigilant to oppose any form of endorsement or legal protection when it regards to sexual orientation or discrimination towards the category.

The ambassadors boast that the twin island republic has no obligations or influence towards UN resolutions or European states and is independent in its legislative policy. This news is ironic since the country currently includes post colonials laws which includes the buggery prohibition of sexual activity that may be engaged in by members of the same sex (men) found in section 13 of the Sexual Offences Act[2] and the archaic prohibition of homosexual persons in section eight (8) of the immigration act[3] in addition the Equal opportunity Act which specifically rejects protection based on sexual orientation.[4]

Rodney also mentions that it is the authority of the population to draft legislation for the protection of a minority such as individuals of non-heterosexual orientation.

Charles Radcliffe, the chief of OHCHR’s global issues section, once told UN Radio during an interview;

“One of the things we found is if the law essentially reflects homophobic sentiment, then it legitimizes homophobia in society at large. If the State treats people as second class or second rate or, worse, as criminals, then it’s inviting people to do the same thing.”

– Charles Radcliffe, The Chief of OHCHR’s Global Issues

He stressed that all UN Member States have an obligation under international human rights law to decriminalize homosexuality, adding it was important to persuade rather than lecture States to change their laws.

Trinidad and Tobago’ Ambassador rhetoric has directly undermined the values in his position and contradicts his obligation with recent resolution on discriminatory laws, practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights[5].

The Council report focuses on three areas: violence against persons based on sexual orientation and gender identity, discriminatory laws and inequitable practices which prevent lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or gay (LGBT) people enjoying the full range of human rights in their everyday lives.

Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights noted that official statistics detailing violence against LGBT persons are rare but where they are available, they invariably show “startlingly high levels of violence and brutality”.

“When such incidents are targeted, when they are part of a systematic pattern of violence, as they are in this context, then they constitute a grave human rights challenge to which this Council has a responsibility to respond,”

– Navi Pillay, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

To reiterate, Trinidad and Tobago’s UN Ambassador; Rodney Charles has failed his obligations in his position and has made a mockery of the severity of the issue. Reinstating the point Charles Radcliffe mentioned, no religious belief or prevailing cultural values can justify stripping people of their basic rights to be free from violence, discrimination and equally treatment. Foremost one in a democracy that preserves the equal, inalienable treatment and fundamental human rights and freedoms of all in the twin island republic that is Trinidad and Tobago.

Mention be made that Trinidad and Tobago has recently been nominated by Latin American and Caribbean Group (GRULAC) as one of 21 vice presidents of the upcoming UN General Assembly session.


Note 1- Jensen Lavende, "Lawyers for Jesus Sound Warning On Abortion And Gay Marriage", Jun 8 2012, Trinidad Express

Note 2 – Section 13, Sexual Offences Act, Chapter 11:28, Laws of Trinidad And Tobago, Ministry Of Legal Affairs

Note 3 – Section 8, Immigration Act, Chapter 18:01, Laws of Trinidad And Tobago, Ministry Of Legal Affairs

Note 4 – Equal Opportunity Act, 2000, Chapter 22:03, Laws of Trinidad and Tobago, Ministry Of Legal Affairs

Note 5 – Discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity , Human Rights Council, United Nations, A/HRC/19/41.

"UN issues first report on human rights of gay and lesbian people", 15 December 2011, UN News Centre.

"A stain on our collective conscience", 7 March 2012, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).