PRESS RELEASE: Friday, 13 April, 2018 (PANCAP Coordinating Unit, CARICOM Secretariat): The Pan Caribbean Partnership against HIV and AIDS (PANCAP), the mechanism that provides a structured and unified approach to the Caribbean’s response to the HIV epidemic, welcomes Judge Devindra Rampersad’s ruling which states: “The court declares that sections 13 and 16 of the [Sexual Offences Act] are unconstitutional, illegal, null, void, invalid and of no effect to the extent that these laws criminalise any acts constituting consensual sexual conduct between adults.”
The ruling in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago acknowledges that every individual regardless of their race, colour, gender, age or sexual orientation has the right to human dignity.
This ruling is aligned with PANCAP’s Justice for All Programme which calls for the establishment of procedures to accelerate the process for the repeal of laws decriminalising sexual acts in private between consenting adults and replace with or retain the provision criminalising sexual acts between any person in public, with the use of force, and acts of indecency committed against any person of less than 16 years of age.
PANCAP reflects on one of the recommendations of the Regional Consultation of Faith Leaders in February 2017 in Port-of-Spain, Republic of Trinidad and Tobago which acknowledged areas of litigation that may challenge religious values and the responses required to harmonise principles and practices around human rights, human sexuality and human dignity. In handing down his decision, Justice Rampersad said that the ruling however is “not an assessment or denial of the religious beliefs of anyone …However, this conclusion is a recognition that the beliefs of some, is not the belief of all”.
PANCAP therefore encourages continued dialogue between the Faith Community and the LGBTI community on areas of agreement and commonality.