BBC World Questions: Disingenuous to Discuss LGBTQ+ says  Panellist

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By Prior Beharry

A QUESTION about LGBTQ+ during the recording of the BBC World Questions held in Trinidad and Tobago on Wednesday is described as being disingenuous by a panellist.

Economist Marlene Attzs told that packed Central Bank auditorium, “I think that quite frankly we are being a little disingenuous because these are conversations that we don’t have in the national space.

“We are raising an issue when it is discussed behind closed doors and in little pockets etc. Because I dare say that many of the persons in the audience and the majority of people in T&T do not have conversations about LGBTQ rights.

“Human right because it’s an inalienable right. And I think that all these issues concerning human rights aren’t discussed in open spaces and broadly enough, to the point of being implementing policies for change in T&T.

“I think, personally we are being a little disingenuous this evening because they are not issues that we openly discuss in T&T.”

On the panel were Minister for Energy and Energy Industries Stuart Young, Tabaquite MP and shadow minister of education Anita Haynes, Chief Executive Officer of The Heroes Foundation Lawrence Arjoon and Attzs. Young was a last-minute replacement for Finance Minister Colm Imbert.

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The radio programme was hosted by Jonny Dymond and will be aired on the BBC World on Saturday June 10, 2023. It will be online thereafter on

Attendees were asked to write down one question on a sheet provided. Then eight people were chosen and asked to sit in the front row to ask their questions.

Dymond asked for a substitute to come and ask the question on LGBTQ. A lady volunteered. The question: “When will LGBTQ+ people in this country be protected by law based on sexual orientation and gender identity? That protection does not currently exist.”

In his response, Young said, “I would love to know in what area there is no protection for anybody.” There was applause.

He said T&T laws make it a crime to exert physical violence on anyone.

Young said, “But recently within our country everyone is allowed to express their views, express their practices that is protected by the Constitution of T&T.”

He said there were some archaic laws as the Immigration Act.

Young said the Equal Opportunities Commission was established to protect any and all forms of discrimination and sexual harassment.

Agreeing with Haynes, he said if there was specific legislation that needs to be brought there were routes and methodologies for that to be done.

Asked by Dymomd if the protection under Equal Opportunity legislation also applied to sexuality or gender identity, Young said they were covered under the Equal Opportunities Act, to jeers from the crowd saying no.

Arjoon later corrected Young saying that the Equal Opportunities Act specifically excluded protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Jonny Dymond. AZP News/Prior Beharry

He said, “That needs to be changed. There are a lot of lobbying dealing with that.”

Young said that gender identity was a new concept throughout the world. He said, “So if it is something to be looked at, then put it forward to the legislators and let it be looked at.”

Arjoon said the post-colonial society had conditioned people to believe that “there is us and the thems and some are better.”

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He said, “LGBT+ people are just like everybody else.”

Haynes added that it was said there was a disconnect between the politicians and the people, but if there were issues they should be taken to their representatives who would listen to them.

Earlier the first question dealt with crime which was a major point of discussion during the programme.

Rishi Mahadeo said his father, a farmer, was murdered two months ago and no homicide officer has been assigned to the case. He said he even made a report to the Police Complaints Authority and no one contacted him.

Young said crime was everywhere and he admitted that it was the responsibility of the government to deal with it.

He said, “I can assure you we are putting a lot of resources behind it. Are we where we need to be? Absolutely not.”

Regarding a question about diversifying the economy away from oil and gas, Young said the energy sector was vital to the economy and he made no apologies for saying that.

He said people should not “basterdize” the energy industry.

Climate change was also one of the issues discussed.


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