LGBT rights in Trinidad and Tobago

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LGBT rights in Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Illegal (not enforced)
25 years (Buggery),
5 years (other sexual acts)
Gender identity/expression
Family rights

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Trinidad and Tobago may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Trinidad and Tobago. However, the laws are not often enforced.


Prohibition of same-sex relations[edit]

Trinidadian criminal code prohibits sex between two people of the same sex, as is the case in much of the English-speaking Caribbean.

Section 13 of the Sexual Offences Act 1986 (Strengthened in 2000)[1] criminalises "buggery". This section states:

(1) A person who commits buggery is guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment—
(a) if committed by an adult on a minor, for life;
(b) if committed by an adult on another adult, for twenty-five years;
(c) if committed by a minor, for five years.
(2) In this section "buggery" means sexual intercourse per anum by a male person with a male person or by a male person with a female person.

Section 16 relates to "serious indecency":

(1) A person who commits an act of serious indecency on or towards another is guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment—
(a) if committed on or towards a minor under sixteen years of age for ten years for a first offence and to imprisonment for fifteen years for a subsequent offence;
(b) if committed on or towards a person sixteen years of age or more for five years.
(2) Subsection (1) does not apply to an act of serious indecency committed in private between—
(a) a husband and his wife; or
(b) a male person and a female person each of whom is sixteen years of age or more, both of whom consent to the commission of the act.
(3) An act of "serious indecency" is an act, other than sexual intercourse (whether natural or unnatural), by a person involving the use of the genital organ for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire.


The government has not specifically targeted homosexuals under the "buggery" or "serious indecency" laws; however individuals have been charged and convicted of these offences when coupled with other serious crimes.[2][3][4]

Law against LGBT entry to Trinidad and Tobago[edit]

Under Section 8 of the Immigration Act,[5] homosexual men and women who are not citizens are not allowed to enter Trinidad and Tobago. However, this law is not known to have been enforced.

(1) Except as provided in subsection (2), entry into Trinidad and Tobago of the persons described in this subsection, other than citizens and, subject to section 7(2), residents, is prohibited, namely-
* * * *
(e) ... homosexuals or persons living on the earnings of ... homosexuals, or persons reasonably suspected as coming to Trinidad and Tobago for these or any other immoral purposes....


The law forbidding immigration is not known to have been enforced.

In 2007 a highly vocal campaign opposed Elton John's entry into the country. This was led by the local Anglican Church, in particular Archdeacon Philip Isaac.[6] The Tobago House of Assembly rejected the call to bar Elton John from entry, and the concert went ahead as planned in May 2007.[7]

LGBT rights movement in Trinidad and Tobago[edit]

On December 2012, Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar responded to a letter protesting the country's anti-gay laws by stating,

With respect to the concerns raised in your letter regarding aspects of T&T's Sexual Offences Act and the Immigration Act which may target persons who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT), I wish to assure you that due consideration is being given to these issues by my Government. I do not support discrimination in any form against any individual, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation. I share your view that the stigmatisation of homosexuality in T&T is a matter which must be addressed on the grounds of human rights and dignity to which every individual is entitled under international law. As such I am pleased to inform you that I have mandated my Minister of Gender, Youth and Child Development, Senator the Honourable Marlene Coudray to prepare and present a national gender policy to Cabinet over the coming months. It is expected that once adopted, this policy will forge the way forward for T&T as my Government seeks to put an end to all discrimination based on gender or sexual orientation.[8]

Local LGBT activism bodies[edit]

Trinidad & Tobago's Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation | Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity/Expression Advocacy Coalition. [9]

Trinidad & Tobago's FreePride Foundation Project | LGBTQ News, Resources, Sexology Education and Safe Sexual Health Sustainability. [10]

Social conditions[edit]

Trinidad and Tobago is considered a "relatively safe" destination for gay travellers.[11]

Living conditions[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal No (Penalty: 25 year prison sentence, Not enforced)
Equal age of consent No
Anti-discrimination laws in employment No
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services No
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) No
Same-sex marriages No
Recognition of same-sex couples No
Step-child adoption by same-sex couples No
Joint adoption by same-sex couples No
Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly in the military No
Right to change legal gender No
Access to IVF for lesbians No
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No

See also[edit]


External links[edit]