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#Bocas2017 Youth Blog: Are All Rights Created Equal?

Think about it: human rights, such as the right to marriage, are given to heterosexual couples across the world but denied to homosexual couples in most countries. Does that mean that they are less than human?

At the NGC Bocas Lit Fest 2017, I was very pleased about the feedback given on the topic of human rights from four panellists who engaged in discussing “Are all rights created equal?” They were astoundingly inclined to speak on the topic of Human Rights. Joining the panellists was Pastor Clive Dottin, who had a really unique voice in light of the subject that was being discussed. I’ve always thought that a good panel needs an antagonist, so that we get a view from the other end of the spectrum.

The discussion explored and dissected topics such as LGBT rights, to the rights of the disabled. It reviewed angles such as who was the most vulnerable in society and what was necessary to bring about equality. The panellists agreed that those who are women, children and members of the LGBT community are most vulnerable in the scope of inequality and the withholding and exploitation of rights.

Children aren’t given a good outlet to express themselves, especially boys, and so from a young age toxic masculinity is birthed.

Persons who are disabled are alienated in a society with “normal” persons and so the struggle for equality continues.

Having a pastor on a human rights discussion seemed outrageous to most because it is assumed their judgement would be clouded with their religious belief.

It was, however, refreshing to hear from Pastor Dottin, as he expressed his love for the LGBT community as human beings. Even though he doesn’t support gay marriages, he preaches human rights for all.

Trinidad and Tobago has a culture where we trivialize many things, such as mental health, emotional expression from men and abuse against men. We have the tools to make life comfortable and equal for one another, but we don’t — and so extra effort has to be put in for every voice to be heard, and for us to progress as a nation. There needs to be a mental shift so that when laws and policies are implemented to effect change, it isn’t just a working theory.

Pastor Clive Dottin comments during the #bocas2017 panel, Are All Rights Created Equal?

I’d like to leave you with two quotes from Keir Roopnarine, panellist:

1.) We don’t need to give people a voice; they already have one. We need to listen.

2.) If you are too afraid to speak out about what you need, how is it going to be fixed?

#LGBT #LGBTRightsAreHumanRights

Blog and Tweets by Ashlee Burnett, Photo by Marlon James.

One of our inaugural NGC Bocas Lit Fest Youth Bloggers, Ashlee Burnett is a 19 year old second year BA English Language and Literature student at the University of the Southern Caribbean. She is the President of USC Speak, a Spoken Word Artist and Youth Activist with The 2 Cents Movement. Ashlee was a semi-finalist at the First Citizens National Poetry Slam 2017. She blogs at AshleeBurnett.