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Hinds under fire for gay comments

Monday, August 6, 2012
Senator Fitzgerald Hinds, right, chats with Coalition Advocation for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation executive director Colin Robinson, left, and Simone Roach following a panel discussion on same sex relationships and other issues on Saturday at the Unity Church, Abercromby Street, Port-of-Spain. PHOTO: NICOLE DRAYTON

Anti-intellectual, condescending and disingenuous. These were some of the words used to describe Opposition senator Fitzgerald Hinds, after he shared his views on homosexuality at Final Hour Christian Ministries’ panel discussion on Human Rights in a Changing World.


The panel discussion was held on Saturday at Unity Hall, Abercromby Street, Port-of-Spain, and was presented by the non-governmental organisation, Smart Speak. A panel comprising of Coalition Advocation for the Inclusion of Sexual Orientation (CAISO)'s Sharon Mottley, Amilcar Sanatan, University of the West Indies’ guild president, lawyer Stanley Marcus (who represented public servant Cheryl Miller) and Hinds came together to discuss the issue of homosexuality.


The panel was chaired by pastor and attorney Dave McKenzie. When asked if a son or daughter of his came home and said he was gay, Hinds said he would say something is wrong with them. Also Hinds said he felt threatened as a heterosexual person. Hinds constantly stated that his views were not those of the People’s National Movement (PNM). When asked about the PNM’s position on gay rights, Hinds said: "The PNM has not yet taken a position on this matter.


“I am beginning to become very confused. I am aware, within the PNM as with everywhere else in society and in all organisations, even within your own church, pastor, there are people who may be sympathetic to the intellectual argument that we have heard coming from our sister two seats down from me, Sister Sharon,” he said.


“I am aware there are individuals in the PNM who hold sympathetic views on this matter, there are some parties which allow people to vote according to their own conscience. I don’t know how this one will turn out. I cannot comment on that. “But I’m beginning to become very confused. I am a lawyer. The Constitution speaks of non-discrimination against certain categories, including sex. No discrimination on the grounds of sex but my understanding of sex has always been male or female.


“And therefore the Constitution protects against that but the LGBT community is now saying, and I heard Sanatan now saying, gender is not as fixed male or female, it is fluid. I am now beginning to become confused...How fluid? And where does it take us?  If we follow this we may very well end up with ten different genders. My own understanding has always been either male or female."


Hinds further said he was a Rastafarian and a Christian who holds true to his Bible, even after admitting he faced discrimination as a Rastafarian. COP's Vernon de Lima, when asked what he thought of Hinds’ comments, said although he was not aware of what was said, he believes issues which pertains to homosexuality should be taken to a referendum.


Hinds’ statements caused an uproar among the gay community—from CASIO’s Facebook page to Jason Jones’ I am One, all had weighed in on the senator’s comments. Jason Jones said: “It is indeed deeply disturbing to hear supposedly learned men as PNM senator Fitzgerald Hinds and Mr Stanley Marcus, SC, spouting such ignorant and hate filled rhetoric on the eve of the 50th anniversary of our democratic Independence. Disapproval of homosexuality cannot justify invading the houses, hearts and minds of citizens who choose to live their lives differently.


“These gentlemen would do well to worry less about what same sex couples get up to in their bedrooms lives and focus their energy on issues that are truly blighting our Republic such as the corruption of our politicians.” Colin Robinson, CAISO’s spokesman, said he believes Hinds’ views are not unique to him. He also felt Hinds’ comments, as a lawyer, displayed some blind spots about issues such as gender.


“When adults in lead positions say these things, they don't understand the enormous impact they have on young people dealing with their sexual identity,” Robinson said. Robinson said he hopes Hinds’ door is open to education. Mottley, who sat on the panel and who Hinds constantly referred to, said: "I want to applaud Pastor Mckenzie for recognisng that as a nation we need to acknowledge all our citizens and strive to create an environment of tolerance, free from discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation. 


“In my view, many of the arguments posed had no place in a discussion on ensuring and preserving the rights of people to live free from fear of discrimination and violence. “While I acknowledge Hinds’ right to his own opinion, I find it unfortunate that with his oratory gift, his political position, and potential to influence thousands that he would use this opportunity to posit a fiery position of non-tolerance and reduce a critical discourse on human rights to one of ‘sexual preference.’


“Before being ‘persuaded,’ the senator may first need a lesson on tolerance and human diversity. CAISO’s efforts are directed at changing law, policies and practices in  practical ways so LGBT Trinidad and Tobago achieve equitable treatment and protection under the law,” she said.


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