Pride TT and other support groups took to the streets on Sunday as members of the LGBT+ community and their allies celebrated five years of their pride parade.
Although the community has celebrated pride (an event replicated globally) for over 30 years, it was only in 2018 that the first pride parade was held.
Dozens of people gathered on Rust Street, St Clair and danced along Gray Street, then St Clair Avenue at the British High Commission, then Nelson Mandela Park and finished on Rust Street. Some of the participants dressed in Carnival costumes and danced soca.
Pride TT co-chair Rudy Hanamji said that just a few months ago the community lost Brandy Rodriguez, leader of the Trinidad and Tobago Trans Coalition.
“This is a person who educated himself. She came from the streets. She was empowered and still couldn’t access her inalienable rights. She was unable to access health care equitably. She was unable to access financing, equity or housing. In 2021, Rodríguez was recognized by Queen Elizabeth II for her exceptional service in support of the trans community and LGBT+ rights.
“So in 2022, when there are vulnerable people in the queer community who don’t have all the privileges that some of us have and the legislation still doesn’t fully protect us, then we should be proud.”
Hanamji said that pride was a protest at the end of the day, even as the community celebrated all the things that queer people contributed to the country.
He said there were still members of the community who were thrown out of their homes and threatened with violence, and when they went to court, they were not protected by the Equal Opportunities Law as the law did not include sexual orientation.
The Equal Opportunities Law establishes in its definition of sex that sexual preference or orientation is not included.
Hanamji said he was hopeful for TT despite global movements questioning some rights.
TT’s culture is different from North America and TT has a very integrated people, he said.
“On a small island, everyone knows a queer person. He could be a teacher, his doctor, his aunt, his nephew, etc. For the most part, since we started public pride five years ago, we haven’t seen that pushback.”
Similarly, Sharon Mottley, director of the Women’s Caucus, a lesbian and bisexual organization, said it was important to continue to protest and increase the visibility of the LGBT+ community.
He said that the pride parade was a manifestation of all the work of those who went before, and that it was important to continue to mobilize and demand the rights of all people in TT for equal access and protection under the law.
Asked if she was concerned about the removal of certain rights in TT given the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the US Supreme Court, Mottley said that some progress had been made in TT with women’s reproductive rights. .
The Roe versus Wade decision of the United States Supreme Court ruled, in 1973, that the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution gave women the right to have an abortion. That decision was reversed by the same court on June 24 of this year.
Mottley said that TT needed to continue taking those steps despite what is happening in the US.
She said that there was a threat of elimination of women’s rights globally and that happens when people get too comfortable and forget all the work that went into making these things possible.
“I think it’s a wake-up call for women around the world and for LGBTQIA people, even though we’ve made progress, how easy it is to turn the tide if we become complacent.”