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Documenting LGBTQ Discrimination
Team Of Lawyers Taking A Stand: Documenting LGBTQ Discrimination In T&T

in TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO, 16/11/2011

The initiative spearheaded by Trinidadian native Tamara Sylvester and New York based Jacqueline Bevilacqua; both recent graduates of law and who shared similar interests regarding the issue; has set out to document the cases of actual victims, facts and patterns in cases of discrimination, denial of services & employment based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

    "Citizens documenting discrimination helps Government fulfill its obligations to protect human rights."

    - Tamara Sylvester, Co-Partner & Attorney-At-law

The initiative spearheaded by Trinidadian native Tamara Sylvester  and New York based Jacqueline Bevilacqua; both recent graduates of law and who shared similar interests regarding the issue; has set out  to document the cases of actual victims, facts and patterns in cases of discrimination, denial of services & employment based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

The project which is housed under the roof of the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Alliance at #8 Gallus Street, Woodbrook, Trinidad, W.I, encourages willing persons who have a story or experience/s of discrimination can participate in the "Tell Your Story TnT" Campaign  via email at:

tellyourstorytnt@gmail.com

With recent attention brought forward by a disturbing study in 2009 carried out by the University of the West indies for the Ministry of Social Developments outlined: for four of every five Trinbagonians believes in denying someone rights or equality based on one’s sexual orientation. The study made recommendations for government action; including legal framework to protect homosexual individuals however these suggestions had been undiscerning.

Jacqueline mentions of her dismay with regards to the testimony from an official in the Attorney General’s office during a 2003 state report before the United Nations Human Rights Committee which claimed:

    “There was no discrimination whatsoever against homosexuals in Trinidad and Tobago."

    - Committee On Economic, Social And Cultural Rights", Economic and Social Council, United Nations, 6,  February 2003

 

To which mirrored similar opinions by the Equal Opportunity Commission at a October public awareness conference that claimed that sexual orientation discrimination did not exist in Trinidad & Tobago based on the lack of complaints filed within the body.

Jackie who won the James E. Tolan Fellowship Human Rights Fellowship, a post-graduate research award, from Fordham University School of Law;  is enthusiastic to recruit more local lawyers volunteer working on human rights and discrimination issues.

A spokesperson from the local S.O.G.I (Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity) advocacy group has express their support for the initiative and its importance:

    “I really hope the fact that these are sensitive people and lawyers will make the difference – people who will respect victims’ confidentiality, but who also have the skills to take action where people would like to."

    - Colin Robinson, Spokesperson for Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation (C.A.I.S.O).

 

The FreePride Foundation Project has joined in collaboration with the campaign initiative to raise public awareness of the value of the service within the country and urges any discriminated individual or ally to come forth openly or privately to share their experiences to  empower this potentially law changing resource that can strengthen drive to conform with international human rights and more importantly to protect & ensure the health & wellbeing of S.O.G.I people.

 

Reference:

Sascha Wilson, "Attorneys Launch Project To Highlight Discrimination Against Gays," Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Media, November 11, 2011, Accessed November 16, 2011.

http://www.guardian.co.tt/news/2011/11/07/attorneys-launch-project-highlight-discrimination-against-gays

United Nations, Economic And Social Council, "Committee On Economic, Social And Cultural Rights,": Page 6, E/C.12/2002/SR.16, 20 February 2003, Accessed November 16th 2011.

http://tb.ohchr.org/default.aspx

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