Monday, October 07, 2013

QUEER QUOTE: Same-Sex Marriages In Trinidad

The English-speaking Caribbean is somewhat notorious for its outdated policies and attitudes towards LGBT equality, with extant sodomy laws and violent homophobia present in the most prominent of the Caribbean countries like Barbados, Trinidad and Jamaica.

In Trinidad, there is an active discussion about same-sex marriage going on because it was reported  in the media that Trinidadian gay men have been going to the United States to get married and then returning home to the Island to have "lavish" commitment ceremonies celebrating their unions, which are not recognized under Trinidadian law.

Interestingly, in a recent report about same-sex marriage there was a quote from the past Chief Justice of the Trinidadian High Court which was surprisingly approving.
The marriage of a gay couple who exchange wedding vows abroad is not valid locally, former Chief Justice Satnarine Sharma said. Sharma, who once presided over a landmark High Court case on the rights of unmarried persons in relationships, also said in his view the laws in place are “unfair”. He noted that partners in unmarried straight couples are afforded common-law rights but gays in committed relationships are not.  
“A common-law wife who has been living with a man for forty years gets certain rights,” Sharma said. “In a case I presided over, I held that in this country we cannot treat unmarried couples in and unfair manner because the practice is so common here culturally. At the same time, we do not recognise homosexual relations. I am certain the principles of a common-law relationship would not be applied because it would be regarded as being against public policy.”  
Sharma continued, “It might be unfair but it has not been tested in the courts. Some people might find the idea of two men living together for their entire lives repugnant. Some people might not. I personally do not find it repugnant. If a man wants to do that with another man that is their business. That is the nature of love, which does not offend. Such a love does not hurt anyone.” 
That last sentiment from Mr. Sharma is today's Queer Quote! Let us hope that it is a reflection of a thaw in the cold shoulder that LGBT people have been receiving in the Caribbean. As a person who considers himself of Caribbean descent (having been born in Grenada) I intend to follow advances on LGBT rights in the area closely.

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