PinkNews is supporting Jason’s campaign to decriminalise homosexuality, and we hope our readers can donate too.
I am a criminal simply because I am a gay man.
My name is Jason Jones. I am a human rights defender challenging my Government in our High Court to change this situation.
In my home country of Trinidad and Tobago, I can be arrested and imprisoned for up to 25 years for having consensual sex with my adult male partner.
Any sexual intimacy between adult couples of the same-sex is a crime (including sex between women).
My government calls these acts “serious indecency”.
They can imprison us for up to 25 years for penetrative sex and for five years for any other act of sexual intimacy.
There are around 100,000 LGBT people on my islands, all living with the threat of criminal law hanging over them.
We inherited these laws from Britain, but my own Government extended the law from only gay men to include lesbians as well after we gained our independence.
I am asking the Court to declare that these laws are unconstitutional.
That they violate my human rights, and encourage homophobia and hatred from my fellow citizens against the LGBT community, and therefore they MUST be removed.
But my Government is actively defending this case, saying that these laws must stay in place.
Since filing my legal challenge in February of this year, I have received more than 60 death threats, and hundreds of messages of hate on my social media pages.
I live in fear for my safety and have become completely isolated from friends and family because I don’t want anything to happen to them back home.
My Court case will be heard on 30 January 2018 in the High Court, Port of Spain, Trinidad.
Together, we can make 2018 the year that Trinidad and Tobago’s LGBT people are no longer criminals merely for being who we are and for who we love.
Over the last two years, I have planned my case with a brilliant legal team made up of lawyers from both Trinidad and Britain.
They have worked for free, giving me hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of free work. I am so very grateful to them all.
My day in Court is nearly here. Now, I need your help.
So far, I have run this case on a shoe string, with some money donated by an HIV prevention charity. Why did they donate?
Because it is a well-established fact that criminalisation creates hidden sexual contact that causes and boosts HIV transmission.
And the intense stigma and fear associated with being LGBT prevents people from accessing diagnosis and seeking treatment!
Hence, we are affected by these laws even when we are not arrested.
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The HIV rate among men who have sex with men in the English-speaking Caribbean is an enormous one-in-four.
In the non-English-speaking Caribbean it is far less at one-in-fifteen. What causes this huge difference?
The English-speaking Caribbean criminalises homosexuality.
Other parts of the Caribbean do not.
I still need to raise at least £15,000 for my Court case: for Court fees, transport and security for my lawyers, and the cost of printing documents for Court.
Litigation is not cheap, even when you have the best lawyers working for you for free!
Your donation will help the 100,000 LGBT people have their day in Court, so that we can challenge these barbaric laws that criminalise us for being lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans.
Australia just voted ‘yes’ to same-sex love. We are a long way from that, but you can help us make the first steps.