Amendments to the Equal Opportunity Act, Chap 22:03 to extend the definition of sex to include sexual orientation, has enabled the LGBTQI community to seek redress for complaints of discrimination under four broad categories stated in the act.
In a release yesterday, Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) officials said these categories included employment, education, the provision of goods and services and the provision of employment.
Officials said after becoming aware of the claim filed by Jason Jones, “The commission sought and received permission to support the matter as an interested party.”
Jones petitioned the court, pursuant to section 14 of the Constitution, to strike down sections 13 and 16 of the Sexual Offences Act, Chapter 11:28 and, by so doing, decriminalise consensual sexual relations between persons of the same sex.
The commission proceeded to file submissions wholly adopting Jones’s position.
In a landmark judgement on Thursday, Justice Devindra Rampersad concluded that based on the evidence and other material, he was satisfied that Jones had proven his case.
The EOC said it is hopeful that the decriminalisation of sections 13 and 16 of the SOA will now clear the way for positive remedies and avenues of combating discrimination such as access to complaints procedure at the commission. The commission said it has been advocating for and actively pursuing amendments to the act and other relevant laws and policy reform in the areas of sexual harassment, domestic violence, disability and sexual orientation.
EOC officials said, “We stand ready to work alongside policy makers at every level to appropriately address this issue of equality of persons of different status.
“We applaud the Attorney General for the support he has always given to the work of the commission and look forward to collaborating with him on the legislative amendments needed to address this issue. We look forward to working with all stakeholders in pursuing the next steps to afford the LGBTI community equal opportunities in Trinidad and Tobago.”