Human Rights and Wrongs: Legally Gay

Posted: September 19, 2012 in Uncategorized

Thursday, May 17, 2012 at 2:43pm

On the topic of Gay Rights:  I am avoiding a long, pointless and ultimately non-resolvable argument buy omitting the religious and moral arguments and approaching the topic from a rational stance. Social:  It is wrong to discriminate in any form. People deserve equal treatment and opportunity. That should go without saying and be an underlying concept in any human rights bill. Legislation however should not be confused with acceptance. Acceptance is a social concept, not legal. This is achieved through education and social development initiatives (the latter of which the Ministry of Social Development has been falling drastically short in), not by putting the barrel of a legal gun to someone’s head. Society does not change in the blink of an eye, but the law can and to bring about a drastic change in law abruptly could easily lead to the breeding of more hate. Legal:The extend of the hypothetically proposed legislation must be taken into consideration as well. 5 major areas can be highlighted through these questions.

  1. How do you legally define “Gay”
  2. Will the law make it an offence to deny someone a job/position because they are Gay?
  3. Will there be associated civil charges?
  4. Will it impose additional charges for an attack against someone who is Gay? 
  5. Gay marriage vs Gay civil union?
  1.  What the criteria for being “Gay?” How do you prove that you are gay? Yes we know socially, but to provide legal proof would require an affidavit which can easily be obtained and falsified (which in itself is illegal however). The only other option would be to apply some sort of test, and there is no test for homosexuality (and the notion of having one would be insulting to homosexuals in the first place). This limitation could potentially open the flood gates for civil law abuse or defeat the legislation entirely.
  2. In my opinion (being a very meritocratic person) a persons sexual orientation should not be taken into consideration in applying for any post. If they are qualified, then they should get through, if not then denied. A straight doctor learns the same medicine as a gay one, an efficient bureaucrat is efficient whether gay or straight. That being said, in line with point 1, how can it be clearly proven that the accused discriminated? The extent that this should go to should be that application forms (which usually dont have have it anyway), interviewers, etc not be allowed to ask sexual orientation in any professional context.
  3. The lack of a criteria being universal or set for being considered gay (or provable anyway), would leave room to question the validity of claims made, but at the same time could easily open the flood gates for fraudulent claim of this in order to sue. Quick money at the expense of the gay community (by the gay and straight), breeding more hatred in the process. 
  4. The idea of a hate crime now is ridiculous to me. I understand it came about from a time where racism (in the USA) was abundant and people were attacked for the colour of their skin, and the additional malice was grounds for an additional charge. What has developed over time however was a legal (and social) precedent that made it a hate crime or at least grounds for that claim when no racist element was involved. So now when (in the USA) a white man picks gets into an arguement over a parking spot with a black man, and strikes him, he gets charged as committing an assault as a hate crime, defeating the whole purpose of the Act which governs it. In short, “hate-crime laws” have become racist. There shouldn’t be any difference between sexual orientation attacks and race attacks. What there should be is good enforcement of the laws which are already in place and if the magistrate or judge sees an additional element of discrimination, he/she would have the option to advance a sentence on the harsher end of the spectrum that is encompassed in the offence. 
  5. The hot topic that is flying around when it comes to gay rights has always been the issue of gay marriage. Now a gay marriage has become an interchangeable term with gay civil union. (note: focus on legal rights not religious grounds——>)A marriage in a holy building/location is a religious ceremony. It is a private institution that is open to the public by their grace. The state has no right to impose sanctions against any religious persons for refusing to act against their religious doctrines in the confines of their own institutions. In short, the same way various religious extremists should not have been attacking homosexual activity, members of the gay community should not be attacking the religious institutions. Personal beliefs should not be imposed on one another. The church struck first in the battle and what started out as disdain resulted in oppression. For the gay community to fight back by forcing the religious organizations to marry them or face legal sanctions, would be to oppress the religious intitutions. This leads to an endless cycle of oppression where who has the legal power has the legal right to oppress. If we are ever to reach a place where we can understand and live in peace with one another, oppression itself must be taken out of the equation. As for a civil union, if homosexuals would like to conduct their own ceremony and create that bond, they should be entitled to the legal rights and securities that married couples enjoy. Signing a paper in the Red House and having any type of proceedings/reception outside of the grounds of religious organizations  would not be infringing on any one else’s beliefs/right so I believe they should be free to do so.
To sum it up, this is a very delicate and complex matter that should be given careful though as to how it is legislated, and should be legislated only if it is deemed that the provisions required are not already implied by our Bill of Human Rights entrenched in the Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Any less thought given to this will reveal it as a political smokescreen/ploy to protect/gain votes would be negligent and insulting to the citizens (especially members of the GLBT community) of TnT. We should never be fooled into thinking that a rushed piece of legislation will create an overnight solution to a problem that has existed for decades.Before being gay, homosexuals are Human Beings first, and that is the first step tolerance. Removing the oppression and ignorance on both sides is the road that leads to acceptance. 

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