Press Release

IACHR Welcomes Anti-Discrimination Statement by the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago

December 20, 2012

Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) welcomes the recent statements by the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, the Hon. Kamla Persad-Bissessar, in which she indicates that her Government will work to put an end to all discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation through its national gender policy, and that “the stigmatization of homosexuality in Trinidad and Tobago is a matter which must be addressed on the grounds of human rights and dignity to which every individual is entitled under international law.”

The Commission welcomes this positive step. The IACHR has received ample information on the extreme violence and discrimination faced by lesbians, gays and trans, bisexual and intersex persons throughout the Americas, including the English-Speaking Caribbean, and is acutely aware that several countries of that region, including Trinidad and Tobago, still have laws criminalizing same-sex sexual relations between consenting adults and other laws used to penalize individuals because of sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Commission believes that decisive measures must be adopted to eliminate discrimination and barriers faced by lesbians, gays and trans, bisexual and intersex persons in accessing justice and other areas of public life. The intent expressed by Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar is in line with the commitment made by OAS Member States on June 4, 2012 to “consider, within the parameters of the legal institutions of their domestic systems, adopting public policies against discrimination by reason of sexual orientation and gender identity”. The Commission hopes to be able to assist all Member States in this endeavour.

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this matter. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 149/12