On March 24, the LGBTQ+ Caucus launched its first Pride Month Series, a sequence of events marking the anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising and celebrating Pride, with a reception hosting Jason Jones, an inspiring LGBTQ activist from Trinidad and Tobago. Jones recently won an historic court case against his national government to overturn two colonial-era anti-LGBTQ laws that have been used for centuries to oppress the LGBTQ community.
Jones spoke of the significance of the court’s decision to nullify and void the British-inherited Sections 13 and 16 of the Sexual Offences Act, marking a monumental shift toward securing the human rights of the queer community in the Caribbean. He observed that this decision will have an even more compelling effect than the January decision by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to mandate EU countries protect the rights of same-sex spouses will have on European law. As a native Trinidadian challenging the constitutionality of his own government, this decision indicates an evolution in the legal system to reflect a culture of acceptance that originates in the community protecting its own citizen, rather than an ex-officio non-governmental body imposing it’s ruling on an unwilling member-state, as the case with the ECJ ruling.
Galvanizing and comical, Jones personality filled the room with motivation and laughter as he encouraged all of us to use our privilege to be a witness to the attacks on the LGBTQ community today. He stressed that the fight for equality and justice never ends and that we must work collectively and tirelessly to preserve our interconnected human rights. Just as women are seeing record rollbacks in civil rights in the United States, in the Trump Accountability Project, GLAAD reports there have been 75 attacks on the American LGBTQ community in 500 days. Indeed, “our liberation is bound to together.” (Queensland Aboriginal Activists Group, Lilla Watson)
Rattling off shocking global and commonwealth statistics of violence the LGBTQ community faces every day, he reiterated the importance of lend our platform to raise up the voices of others, and getting back to grassroots organizing to change hearts and minds. In the next two months, Jones will launch the world’s first human rights organization founded and led by black leadership. His organization promises to create space at the table to include black and brown perspectives in the discussion and implementation of human rights across the developed world. They plan to use innovative community organizing techniques to increase the adoption of human rights from within communities, rather than ideas and stipulations being thrust upon them by international human rights organizations, which are currently dominated by white, cisgender people from the developed world.
The evening was co-hosted by the Black Caucus, Adrienne Johnson, DAUK Black Caucus Chair and Global Black Caucus Steering Committee member, highlighted the importance of the contributions to our society and our collective civil rights made by queer black folk like Marsha P Johnson, Jewel Thais Williams, and Barbara Jordan. “We stand on the shoulders of others,” she remarked, as she reminded us of the importance to lift others as we climb. The reception’s keynote culminated in a poignant reminder that we have the responsibility to lend our platform to raise the voices of others.
In DAUK Women’s Caucus, we proudly support the work Jason Jones has contributed to our collective human rights, and we look forward to the launch of his organization and the impact it will have on the progression of equality and justice for all.
For more information on the Trump Accountability Project and ways you can fight for LGBTQ rights, check out GLAAD’s website. For further information on Jason Jones and the launch of his trailblazing human rights organization, follow him on Twitter @trinijayjay.