Homophobia 'rife in T&T'

Published: June 19, 2011

ISSY men, battie men, men haters.

Call them what you want, but the gays and lesbians in this country are humans like everyone else and should be treated as such. That’s the view of Colin Robinson, spokesman for the Coalition Advocating for the Inclusion of Sexual Orientation (CAISO), in response to a survey that showed 69 per cent of Trinidadians were unsupportive of gays and lesbians.
 
The polling was done by the ANSA McAL Psychological Research Centre of the University of the West Indies
 
The research was commissioned by the Ministry of the People and Social Development and the results released last month.
 
It found that 76 per cent of persons 56 years and older were unsupportive of equal rights for homosexuals. Persons with a higher income and education level were more supportive than those who were primary educated and of a lower income. Females were more likely to be supportive than men.
 
The issue of equal rights has the attention of Government ministers who have had several debates pertaining to same-sex marriages in Parliament. In February, former gender affairs minister Mary King called for a national debate.
 
Robinson said he found the results of the report to be "very interesting".

"It does not say that those attitudes are acceptable….. we need to ensure that those attitudes don’t fuel stigma and discrimination and prevent people from accessing rights. That part is the significance of the study."
 
Thirty-three-year-old Kenty Mitchell, who is openly gay, has been living with his partner for 14 years. Williams said he was never attracted to women.
 
The maxi driver from Ste Madeleine said men were more likely to be victimised if they were seen liming with a homosexual man.
 
"I think the majority does not really have anything against gays, but the men. They don’t like other men to see you with them.They might be victimised or their friends might say they are gay, too, so that’s why the men are in hiding."
 
He said many men, even though they had relationships with women, were attracted to others of their sex, but were hiding.
 
Mitchell, who boasts of a successful relationship, said nobody knew about his boyfriend except those who live in his area because he wanted to protect his loved one from daily discrimination.
 
"You are living your life pleasing to you and people are discriminating you so people who are gay or bisexual or whatever they are not coming out in the open because people tend to look at you funny."
 
Some of Mitchell’s family members do not speak to him and he said his partner was the main person in his life.
 
"I would love to get married because if something happened to me today or tomorrow if I die, my family will contest it. If my friend have to get anything, my family would fight him down to the end and he has to get everything. They would not give him what is his own."
 
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