The Prime Minister, in response to a direct question on her government's position on the decriminalization of homosexuality in Trinidad & Tobago stated categorically that the environment for the conversation does not yet exist due to the position being taken by religious bodies on the issue, specifically the Catholic Church, which prompted a scathing response from the same Catholic Church denying that statement but which notably omitted to state, if she was wrong, then what exactly the church's position on the matter is.
Questions need to be asked and chief among these should be, why should this matter? Without getting into the nitty gritty as to how sex is practiced on all sectors of society, do we really believe that how consenting adults interact sexually can have an impact on the development of society?
And what of the other sacred cows such as marriage and child rearing, do we really believe that the sanctity of heterosexual unions can somehow be undermined by the fact that homosexuals want to also commit to one person for the rest of their lives? Or that unclaimed orphans are much better off languishing in orphanages rather than be given the opportunity to grow in a home environment because we disagree on how those people express themselves sexually?
I for one have been trying to be very mature about this, and while still do not understand a lot of what makes a person homosexual, whether it is in fact nurture, nature or genetics at play, I find that the issue has become one of human rights, and for me to be the social activist I believe myself to be then I am going to have to have to at least weigh in on the human rights aspect of the matter.
The criminalization of homosexuality is wrong on multiples of levels and should be undone. Human beings should be free to express themselves sexually and we as a society need to grow up to that point.
Hoping not to inextricably link the two, I cannot avoid the comparison with this issue and the issues surrounding the decriminalization of marijuana for personal use. Again, this is not a matter 'dear to my heart' as it is another cause for which I am outside the affected group, but here again is another example of legislation failing to keep up with the times. It is a publicly known fact that many, many people smoke marijuana on all levels of society for different reasons. As recreation to get high (as compared to drinking to get drunk), for medicinal purposes (suppression of pain and other negatives associated with chronic disease) or for other reasons, and while we are legally allowed to drink ourselves into a stupor, the use of marijuana has been linked to the opening of the gates of hell and the unleashing of the demon hordes to destroy society.
If you have ever had to engage people who take their marijuana use seriously the first thing you would notice is the almost passionless lack of zeal. It has been scientifically noted that marijuana suppresses urge and perhaps may be a useful thing if harnessed and put to good in our penal institutions, but that is a topic for a whole other discussion. Noteworthy to the discussion, the ill effects of smoking are well known, yet more people die from the avoidable consequences of smoking cigarettes than any other cause and are allowed to do so legally. The facts outstrips the fiction now associated with the drug, and again this is something that requires national dialogue and perhaps a vote from which to make a decision.
Put the democracy to work and let the people decide. Call a referendum on the two issues, giving all sides three months to 'campaign' for their cause, phrasing the ultimate questions as simple yes or no:
Do you think homosexuality should be decriminalized yes or no?
Do you think marijuana for personal use should be decriminalized yes or no?
Guided by the results, laws should be either enacted or repealed to reflect the will of the people. That is the way mature societies should address polarizing issues and in the process create a space for the harmonious enjoyment and celebration of each other's differences in my humble opinion.