As the world observes International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBIT) today, CAISO: Sex and Gender Justice has called on the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to meet its human rights obligations to be as inclusive as possible and protect all people living in Trinidad and Tobago from harm and discrimination.
In a statement issued yesterday, CAISO said it highlights the campaign to Amend the Equal Opportunity Act to include LGBTI status, as necessary and long overdue.
It said this is needed to offer protections for LGBTI+ persons with employment, housing, education and access to health care and other goods and services. This long-standing call for expanded protections it said, started in 2011 and continues.
CAISO said despite the significance of Justice Devindra Rampersad’s 2018 ruling in Jones v AG of Trinidad and Tobago, the LGBTI+ community remains at risk of discrimination and violence.
It said there is, to date, no legislation that explicitly offers protection on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
It added while the Equal Opportunity Commission and Tribunal safeguard rights by receiving, conciliating, and adjudicating complaints of discrimination in accommodation, service provision, education and employment, on specific grounds, however, under the Act, the EOC can only receive complaints related to sex, race/ethnicity, disability, origin, religion and marital status.
It added as such, LGBTI+ people (because of their sexual orientation or gender identity) remain vulnerable to being discriminated against in relation to employment, housing, education, and when accessing goods or services such as health care.
CAISO said the Attorney General recently announced, on March 4 this year, plans to make amendments to the EOA to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace, which the group said it supports and welcomes.
It said it anxiously awaits long-needed amendments that include LGBTI status among other needed additions for protection and calls on Parliament to make this amendment a priority.
It said, “We urge the Government to act quickly and offer protections for LGBTI people living in Trinidad and Tobago.
“This would be a powerful action to not only offer clear and needed protections but also affirm the human rights of LGBTI Trinbagonians.”