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Past the urban centers homophobia is still present in the Indo-Afro-Caribbean cultures here (and elsewhere in the Caribbean).“But”, said one observer, “the complexity of everyday life goes beyond sexual issues in our country; it includes more real concerns about income inequality, crime, family affairs as well as activities of daily life: people going to work and school in rain and floods; voting and going to court and watching Oprah on TV and raising children.” But there are always reminders of discrimination.
“New places pop up and fade out, so it’s hard to keep up,” said one local leader.
Surprisingly, the gay scene in T&T is bigger than in any other Caribbean country except Puerto Rico.
The gay community is centered in the capital city of Port-of-Spain (population about 58,000).
Trinidad & Tobago is one of 13 completely independent Caribbean sovereign states that are not overseas territories, departments, or dependencies of large far-off mostly European countries.
The other 20 are politically attached to Europe and the USA.
In some of these, such as Jamaica and Dominica, there is harsh treatment of LGBT citizens who are caught engaged in illegal same-sexual contact.
Curiously however, despite the archaic anti-gay statutes left over from British rule, a visitor can find gays and lesbians in T&T who are more relaxed even if not fully open.
For nearly 200 years the island of Tobago changed hands between Spanish, British, French, Dutch and Courlander colonizers.
Trinidad and Tobago together were finally ceded to Britain in 1802.
Said one local man with a laugh, “our gay community is very active mostly at partying.” Such activities cannot be found on the anti-gay islands of Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia and St Vincent & Grenadines with Jamaica considered to be the most risky country for gays.
As well, the mainland territories of Belize (Central America), Guyana and Suriname (both South America) are also what regional people consider Caribbean countries because they are former European colonies and now sovereign states.
These groups draw inspiration and challenge from a disturbing study in 2009 carried out by the University of the West indies for the Ministry of Social Developments which concluded that four of every five Trinbagonians believe in denying someone rights or equality based on one’s sexual orientation.