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Death threats for LGBTQI advocate
Jason Jones, the LGBTQI activist who in April won an historic challenge to clauses of T&T’s buggery laws, says he has received death threats in the face of comments he made about Archbishop Jason Gordon following a meeting of religious leaders on Monday which spoke out on the issues of gay marriage and changes to the Equal Opportunity Act.
Speaking to the T&T Guardian yesterday from London, Jones said in one of the messages the person told him “he will throw kerosene on me and light me up.” He said it seemed to be a “recurring thing you know, after ‘fire bun them,’ which sadly has been imported from Jamaica dancehall.”
Jones said he is a “very proud Trinbagonian” and found it “quite shocking and worrying that people who I love should want to see me dead.”
He blamed the latest threats on the “underlying tone of hatred and division” espoused by the religious leaders on Monday.
But Jones said under the United Nations Charter, “We are all born free and equal. I am equal to Roman Catholic Archbishop Jason Gordon and he needs to get that into his head.”
He said having grown up in the Roman Catholic Church serving as an acolyte and going across the country “singing with the Goretti Group, my experience in the Roman Catholic Church has always been very positive.”
The Archbishop’s reaction, he said, “has come truly like a bolt out of the blue, especially after Gordon made the statement after my historic victory at the High Court supporting to decriminalisation of homosexuality. How on the one hand can he say two months ago that he supports decriminalisation, and now say we do not have the right to get any remedial action if we are discriminated in the workplace or in our homes or in our families or other institutions?”
He said there are many in the LGBT community who see him as “a beacon of hope, I have had a number of messages from young LGBT people who were contemplating suicide, I am seeing what I so as giving them hope.”
But while he lives his life “fairly openly so that there is hope for the voiceless,” he said it has opened him to “very vile assaults.”
In the past year, he said he had received more than 70 death threats and more came yesterday after his comments about the Archbishop.
But he said he could only speak about the Archbishop because he is Roman Catholic. Despite those threats, Jones said he will continue the fight for the LGBT community “to give voice to the voiceless.”
Meanwhile head of the Local Anglican Church Bishop Claude Berkeley admitted yesterday that he was in the dark about why he was not invited to the meeting of religious leaders on Monday, During the meeting, heads of the Roman Catholic, Hindu, Muslim and Pentecostal faiths agreed to lobby Government to entrench in law that marriage be between a “biological male and a biological female.”
Berkeley said he did not know if there was a “breach of communication” with his office but in any event, said the Anglican Church has adopted a resolution of the Church of England that marriage is between a man and a woman. He could not comment on the specific lobby of the religious leaders to include the terminology “biological,” saying he abides “strictly by the position we have adopted by the Church as my position, that while we recognise persons of a sexual orientation who are members of the church, we are not authorised to ordain those persons or organise those persons for marriage rights because the church’s teaching is marriage is between a man and a woman.”
He said he also did not want to “just jump in” on the position adopted by the religious heads to lobby Government on the issue of including LGBT persons in the Equal Opportunities Act, saying it was something that required “study and deliberation, because those are complex questions and I think sometimes we have a tendency to give simple answers to complex questions that are not often adequate.”
It was complex, he said, since by virtue of not wanting to “marry persons of same-sex orientation, that is a measure of exclusion,” while on the other hand, the Equal Opportunity Act is to “allow people to function or not to be debarred from opportunities available to citizens because of categories, I don’t know. I don’t want to become embroiled in a matter I don’t have a sense of.”
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