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Unacceptable to beat up gays – PM Gonsalves

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While Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves thinks that it is wrong for three transvestites who have been attracting public attention to go around “shocking people’s sensibilities and sensitivities”, he feels it is also wrong for people to assault them.

Gonsalves’ opinion on the issue came on Monday at Cabinet Room when he was asked a question on the issue.

Over the weekend, two of the three men were beaten in Calliaqua when they went there to conduct personal business.

The Prime Minister said that a few weeks before the attack, he observed the three men on ‘Back Street’ and they were “cavorting” and at first, he thought they were “strange young ladies” but later realized they were male and his first impression was, “it maybe wiser for them to carry the argument in another way”.

Gonsalves said it is unbecoming and wrong for anyone to beat an individual for whatever prejudice he or she may have.

“For instance, if a person dresses … in a manner which would suggest that they are gay, just let them be.

“Why are you beating them? You have no right to do it. That kind of an irrational homophobia is entirely unacceptable,” the Prime Minister, who is also Minister of National Security said.

He said that while some persons may think from their own value perspective and religious beliefs that homosexuality is wrong, there is no law that gives anyone the right to hit a person.

However, Gonsalves noted that at the same time there are laws in the country which speak to the question of indecency.

He however noted that he is uncertain if a man dressing like a woman amounts to an act of indecency.

The Prime Minister said underlying the issue which we have been talking around is a history of discrimination against gays and lesbians.

He however noted that it is a criminal offence in SVG to engage in buggery and engaging in lesbian acts is also within the ambit of indecent sexual acts, by law. Both, he said are punishable by imprisonment.

“I don’t know of anybody who has been prosecuted for homosexual conduct whether male or female…,” Gonsalves however added.

He stressed that his comments are not about making the case for decriminalization of homosexuality but for an intelligent conversation to be started by those who feel very strongly that there should still be a criminal ban on it or not.

Commissioner of Police (COP) Colin John told reporters on Monday that investigators have seen the videos where the two men were beaten, and reports were made by the persons attacked and they were issued with medical injury forms.

He said that up to press time, the men had not returned the forms, but the matter is under investigation.

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