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By Sean Macleish
Dear Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, your administration owes us an apology and an explanation for your refusal to give basic human rights to LGBT Vincentians, which includes me.
I am disappointed with your negligence to stand up for equality.
You continue to legalise discrimination under the law for LGBT citizens, which has a long, protracted history of promoting marginalization, social exclusion, harassment and violence.
In 2018, the criminalization of homosexuality in St.Vincent and the Grenadines is state sponsored homophobia, which legitimizes the demonization of gay people like me.
It advises society that we are less than, that we are defined as second class citizens and we are to be hated.
I read in a news article your response to the recent attack on gay people in Calliaqua. You were quoted as saying,
“A social and moral issue like this, it should be a freedom issue, a libertarian issue, it should be led by the churches”.
I couldn’t help but think of the fiduciary responsibility that your 17 year administration has in protecting the human rights of LGBT people. You have failed without apology or explanation.
Instead you have deferred your ethical and moral duty to represent all Vincentians, to religious organizations, rooted in dogma, which is the foundation of discrimination against LGBT Vincentians.
This is a judicial issue, which ultimately falls under your office and despite being the representative for all of your people, you are not an advocate for equality in public policy.
When will the equality of LGBT Vincentians be more important than political currency, based on bigotry? When will you end this apartheid?
In May 2011, Camillo Gonsalves, then Permanent Representative to the UN, told the Human Rights Council that there was no mood in society in SVG to decriminalize homosexuality and that the laws criminalizing homosexuality were widely accepted by society.
Your administration shares responsibility and culpability in the mistreatment of people based on their sexual orientation, because your inherited anti-gay law promotes a negative philosophy that vilifies LGBT people.
Decriminalizing homosexuality in SVG sets a positive tone and is a monumental message that everyone is equal under the law, regardless of sexual orientation.
It reflects a government that welcomes everyone to have a seat at the table without laws that shame and create fear.