Wednesday 30 September, 2020

Gay rights advocate receives death threats

Jason Jones, a Trinidadian gay rights advocate, says he is fearful for his safety after receiving a number of death threats online.

Jones has filed a legal claim against the government in the High Court, seeking equal rights for members of the LGBTQ community.

Jones is aiming to have laws criminalising homosexuality struck off the law books of Trinidad and Tobago.

But he said his activism has offended some and he has received numerous death threats over the past 48 hours. The threats were sent via Facebook, he said.

In addition to the threats, Jones said he has been rejected by his family and denied access to his nieces and nephews because of the decision he has taken to lobby for gay rights in T&T.

However he said he considers it his duty to fight for equal rights.

The UK-based activist criticised T&T, which he said was falling behind first world countries when it comes to human rights.

"Homosexuality is legal in Britain, it's legal all around the world. There are 74 countries where it is illegal. Five of those countries have the death penalty. And this country has one of the highest jail sentences...25 years."

Jones said it was embarrassing when in 2007, there was an uproar over UK singer Sir Elton John was coming to perform at the Tobago Jazz festival.

Objections were made by certain groups that John be barred from entering Tobago due to his open homosexuality. The law was not enforced and John did go on to perform at the event.

Jones is the founder of local advocacy group "I am One".

Recounting his experiences with discrimination, he said he was made homeless by his family, and subjected to degrading insults by people on the streets.

"I couldn't walk down Frederick Street without somebody saying 'look the *******'," he said.

Jones said he hoped people's perception of the LGBTQ community would change in time but said the first step must be changing discriminatory laws.

He added that his attorneys are all working on the case "pro bono".

The legal team consists of lead counsel Richard Drabble QC, advocate attorney Rishi P.A. Dass and instructing attorney Antonio Emmanuel.


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