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  • LGBTQI activists from CAISO during an International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia event

    LGBTQI activists from CAISO during an International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia event | Photo: Equality Network

"Instead of fear and victimhood, we are calling for people to take more loving care of each other, and to ensure each other's protection," said CAISO.

On Friday a coalition of feminist and LGBTQI groups in Trinidad and Tobago launched a safety and self-defence campaign in response to a recent wave of anti-LGBTQI threats and violence.

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"It's an empowerment message," said Colin Robinson, director of the Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation. "Our LGBTQI communities here are resilient and have a long history of collaboration and of solution-seeking. Instead of panic, fear and victimhood, we are calling for people to increase our responsibility and vigilance, to take more loving care of each other, and to ensure each other's protection."

Piloted during this year's Carnival celebrations, the campaign involves dating safety reminders, and a series of workshops specifically targeting women, trans people focussed on issues of gender-based violence.

The coalition has also launched a hotline to encourage members of the community to both report anti-LGBTQI threats and violence as well police harassment, both of which aim to pressure law enforcement to take anti-LGBTQI violence seriously.

"We are also asking the media to help through responsible, non-sensational reporting, and by ramping up investigative journalism, so we get to the bottom of why people are being killed," said Terry Ann Roy, a spokesperson for I Am One, a community group focussed on gender and sexual justice.

Since January at least three gay men have been murdered, crimes which the coalition says the police have not thoroughly investigated.

The campaign comes three weeks after a prominent LGBTQI activist launched a constitutional legal challenge against anti-LGBTQI laws in the country which criminalizes same-sex activity and also allows for the banning of LGBTQI immigration.

"It is a human rights issue. It is about my right to live my life as I choose. Somebody has to do it. So I am doing it," said Jason Jones after launching the suit.

Jones has said that in the weeks after announcing the case he has received over 50 death threats.

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