Guest post by Colin Robinson
In a 2002 decision soundly criticised in a UWI-commissioned law paperby SeShauna Wheattle, a former Chief Justice freed Marvin Marcano for Christopher Lynch’s murder, saying his victim’s same-sex sexual advance was so unnatural it would send any right-thinking person crazy. Women don’t enjoy that protection. Twelve years later, a few months after the paper, the retired CJ mused that same-sex love is not repugnant and hurts no one.
But take Baker out of the picture. What about the other MPs, on different benches in both houses, who are lesbian, gay or bisexual? Who is “vulnerable” when they make sexual advances? Does our culture of scandal and stigma around same-sex desire make such office holders especially susceptible to sexual blackmail? Do our unenforced laws that make such behaviour illegal, even when it’s consensual, drive talented people away from—or out of—public service? Does the forced secrecy around such desire drive powerful people to seek sex from the vulnerable?
Public debate has also not yet turned on the fact—perhaps because few know this—that 25 years after Independence, the PNM created a new law criminalising with a five-year jail sentence a man playing with another man sexually in private— regardless of consent (though no one may have ever been prosecuted for consensual conduct). No parliamentarian is calling for such laws—which could be used to prosecute them—to be repealed.
But some things are refreshing. Despite the “No man, woman or goat is safe from this Government” picong—the titillation of prime time TV reporting—and the broadcast of a purported recording of a grown politician in tears on the phone—I’ve heard no loud voice say no homosexual belongs in the nation’s Cabinet. Last week the chief justice, attorney general, police commissioner, house speaker and arts minister all turned out to embrace the visiting American couple whose son, Matthew Shepard, was murdered, and listen to their message of acceptance and equal rights (though Rodger Samuel, put in charge of national diversity, was notably absent.)
Hopefully Dr Baker and his accuser will be judged on the ethics of their conduct and not the other’s sex.
Forging the liberty to love: one nation…many bodies…boundless faith.
This article was originally published in the Trinidad Guardian and is re-published here with the author’s permission.
Colin Robinson is a Trinbagonian working to build a better nation, and a movement for justice, dignity and pleasure, using fellowship, imagination, writing, and organising in LGBTI communities. He works with CAISO, the Caribbean IRN and CariFLAGS; and, in addition to the Guardian newspaper, his essays have appeared in Aché: A Journal for Black Lesbians, the Caribbean Review of Gender Studies, the Commonwealth Opinion series, the gspottt blog, Voices Rising: Celebrating Twenty Years of Black LGBT Writing and the forthcoming Black Gay Genius: Answering Joseph Beam’s Call.