(T&T GUARDIAN) – The LGBTQIA community should not be considered “pariah” or social outcasts, because they are part of our “new future”, Roman Catholic priest Father Martin Sirju has said.
Sirju made the statement as he delivered the homily at the City Day Thanksgiving service held at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Port-of-Spain yesterday
The 104th anniversary of the Restoration of Municipal Rights to the City of Port-of-Spain was celebrated yesterday under the theme “Honouring the past, embracing the present, progressing toward a smart future”.
The day began with the Thanksgiving service which started at 9 a.m with Sirju as the officiant.
Delivering the homily, Sirju said the issue of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants must be addressed in a humane manner.
The LGBTQIA community must also be treated humanely too and with inclusion.
“Historically, in western society, the city has always drawn all types. One is inclined to find the bohemian in the city. The city boasts not only of its macro-culture but its subcultures as well,” Sirju said.
“This means that in the city we will encounter persons like the immigrant or refugee. Cities have always had its fair share, and today, more than its fair share of refugees and people regarded as odd or strange, like John the Baptist.
We have to find ways of dealing with this challenge that are humane and in keeping with religious and moral values and international law. The same applies to the LBGTQI community. They cannot be considered pariah,” he said.
“We must make room for them for they are part of our common humanity. They are all part of the new or smart future we are striving to create. We may not know what to do sometimes but we follow the general pattern of inclusion,” Sirju said.
Sirju said there several issues pertinent to the gospel that points to the manner in which we can embrace a challenging and perhaps frightening future.
“We need new ways of thinking, to think outside the box, to generate new creative traditions,” he said.
Sirju also decried domestic violence.
“Family life, whatever conforms to family life in our Caribbean situation, must become less violent, more respectful, filled with mutual understanding, devoid of domination and subjugation, especially of women,” Sirju said.
“Women are not the property of men, whether in marriage or common law relationships. Many of them are not angels either; some can be quite cruel. But violence is not the way to assert male authority nor is it a creative way to resolve conflict,” he said.
Sirju said we also need to be more mindful of the nation’s children citing the disparity in the number of children writing the Secondary Entrance Examination (SEA) and those writing Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) examination.
“18,000 write the SEA exam but only 10,000 write the CSEC exam. Where are the other 8000? What has become of them? One only has to make 31% to pass the SEA exam. What are the literacy levels of those 18,000 children?” he said.
“Education today needs to be more psychological, socially conscious, specialised and remedial to deal with today’s generation of youth. Education must attend also to things like autism, deafness, eye ailment, trauma in children etc. Unless we do something new our children will continue to suffer. Our future will be neither progressive nor smart,” Sirju said.
Following the service a parade was held throughout the streets of the city.