Now Where Yuh Hear Dat?

Last Friday, Ariti Jankie, reported on the case of a Jesse Hanes (not his real name) a homosexual, HIV-positive, Trinibagonian male, who had successfully applied for asylum in the United States, on the premise that Trinidad and Tobago’s society is one that is hostile to persons like himself.

As a counter-point to Hanes’ argument, Jankie cited Beverly King, an HIV/AIDS social worker as saying that Hanes’ “would be pleasantly surprised to learn that HIV/AIDS patients in Trinidad and Tobago today, receive free medicine and are accepted both within their families and at the workplace.”

A spokesperson for the National Aids Co-ordinating Committee (NACC) was also cited as saying that “there has been a growing acceptance for “gays” in the country in recent years.”

Read the full article here.

I would be interested in whether Ms. King or the NACC spokesperson has any factual basis for their statements. Have there been any published studies, quantitative or qualitative, about the gay, HIV-positive “community” in Trinidad and Tobago? I would think that in the spirit of good reporting, Jankie would have referenced any such study, if it existed.

I cannot say much on the medical care of HIV/Aids patients other than:

A promise of free care and medicine does not necessary mean that it will be so. Just ask anyone afflicted with cancer in Trinidad and Tobago. According to the ttconnect page on Cancer Care and Treatment “Cancers are a leading cause of illness and death in Trinidad and Tobago.  The National Oncology Programme (NOP) is a major component of the Government’s commitment to address this public health challenge.” Read the full text here.

Yet, treatment at the National Radiotherapy Center in St. James has recently been limited to emergency cases only due to staff and equipment shortages.

With respect to the “growing acceptance of “gays” in the country in recent years.” I would say consider this:

In 2007 alone:

  • March – Sir Elton John faces opposition (based on his sexual orientation) to his decision to participate in the Tobago Jazz Festival. Read the full story here.

Note: The Tobago Jazz Festival, with Elton John headlining, was very well attended.

  • November – A male, homosexual plaintiff was awarded TT $28,4000 in damages for the humiliating treatment that he received while in custody at a local police station. Read the full story here.

Perhaps acceptance is limited to certain socio-economic groups.

Mango

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~ by mangoandmosquitoblog on January 15, 2008.

2 Responses to “Now Where Yuh Hear Dat?”

  1. Excellent Post. Trinidad is not somewhere where you can talk openly about being gay or HIV positive for that matter. But every year during pride (June) the gay community does remember the members of the community they have lost to this disease. We have quilts and walls and scrap books and memories.

  2. Thanks for the shout-out Viekevie. Growing tired of T&T’s public figures making what seems to be statements of fact without empirical proof.

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