A landmark decision by Trinidad & Tobago's High Court has ruled the country's sodomy laws unconstitutional after Judge Devindra Rampersad ruled in favor of LGBT activist Jason Jones.
In February 2017, Jones filed a landmark lawsuit against the government to overturn Sections 13 and 16 of the Sexual Offenses Act, according to which anyone 'who commits buggery is guilty of an offense.'
Jones argued that Section 13, which criminalizes anal sex, is unconstitutional because it violates his right to privacy, liberty and freedom of expression.
Judge Rampersad said the "conclusion is not an assessment or denial of the religious beliefs of anyone; this court is not qualified to do so.
"However, this conclusion is a recognition that the beliefs of some – by definition – are not the belief of all, and in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, all are protected under the Constitution."
Jason Jones faces the courts today as he contests Sections 13 and 16 of the Sexual Offenses Act which he says infringes on the rights of the LGBTQIA Community in Trinidad and Tobago. The judgement which decides the future of these sections will be handed down just before noon. pic.twitter.com/nqDHmrRSEy— CCN TV6 (@tv6tnt) April 12, 2018
In the past few weeks, protests have been held against the sodomy laws, with several religious groups simultaneously protesting in their favor.
On Tuesday, over 150 people led a protest in front of parliament in Port of Spain under the banner 'Equality, Diversity and Love.'
After the ruling, Jones said: "What I think the judge pointed out was 'here every creed and race find an equal place' and I think we must all come together now and embrace each other in true love and respect.
"This is not about LGBT; this is about the rights and freedoms enshrined in our Constitution, and I hope that everyone walks away from this calmly and collectively."
After Trinidad and Tobago declared itself independent from British colonial rule in 1976, a new constitution was written – including a law penalizing sodomy with five years.
In 1986, parliament doubled the penalty to 10 years, and the most recent change was made in 200 when parliament again raised the penalty to 25 years.