The Add All Three to the EOA Campaign is a call by a broad coalition of organisations to add protections based on LGBTI status, as well as age and health conditions, to the 20-year-old law.
The Equal Opportunity Commission has made similar recommendations since 2011. Expanding the law’s protections to include overlooked groups has also been a recommendation of every major international human rights review that Trinidad & Tobago has undergone since 2000. Over 25 diverse domestic and regional groups have championed these legislative amendments in various ways over recent years.
Notwithstanding the significance of Justice Rampersad’s ruling in 2018 in Jones v AG of Trinidad and Tobago, the LGBTI+ community remains at risk of discrimination and violence. There is, to date, no legislation which explicitly offers protection on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. CAISO has been advocating for legislative changes, particularly of the Equal Opportunity Act, to expand protections for LGBTI+ people.
The Equal Opportunity Commission and Tribunal safeguard rights by receiving, conciliating, and adjudicating complaints of discrimination in accommodation, service provision, education and employment, on specific grounds. There is no cost or lawyer needed to file an EOC complaint. However, under the Act, the EOC can only receive complaints related to sex, race/ethnicity, disability, origin, religion and marital status.
Those facing unfair discrimination because of age, because of a health condition (e.g. someone living with HIV, cancer, diabetes, facing a complicated pregnancy, or recovering from COVID-19), or because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or intersex are not accommodated by the equal opportunity machinery. As such, LGBTI+ people remain vulnerable to being discriminated against in relation to employment, housing, education, and when accessing goods or services such as health care.
So how do we Add All Three? The EOC and the Office of the Attorney General have already drafted the legislative amendment to Add All Three. What’s needed is a cross-section and coalition of supportors to apply pressure on the AG to prioritise introducing this amendment.
What does a champion do?
Who has supported adding all three?
Both the American Chamber of Commerce of T&T and the Amalgamated Workers Union have been leading champions of adding all three. A campaign which a group of NGOs—the Association of Civil Society Organisations of T&T, the Caribbean Centre for Human Rights, the CEDAW Committee of T&T, the Family Planning Association, the Living Water Community, Mental Health Matters, Squeaky Wheels and the Women’s Institute for Alternative Development, and others— have engaged in around the UN Universal Periodic Review included adding all three.
Radio Ads and Animation
Spokespeople from the Amalgamated Workers Union and Coalition on Domestic Violence, a community leader living with HIV and a young filmmaker are raising their voices on radio and social media calling on Parliament to amend the Equal Opportunity Act of 2000 to add three groups of people left out of the law’s protections against discrimination.
Public service advertisements saying “Add All Three” aired across more radio stations in March, November and December 2020. These same ads were launched across social media through an animation in April 2020 that shares these same messages and champion voices.
In these messages, four “champions,” Shinelle Ambris, Roberta Clarke, Conrad Mitchell and Steve Theodore, voice the call of a broad coalition to add discrimination based on age, health conditions and LGBTI status to the 20-year-old law. These messages have been shared across social media along with an animation that shares these champion voices.
The 2020 LGBTI Policy Agenda (developed by Alliance for Justice and Diversity) includes expanding protection against discrimination, as well as other important human rights issues and concerns. The Policy, launched in October 2020, includes 13 Action Points shared with all government ministries and agencies.
These are specific calls to action to address the following concerns: State Capacity and Training on Human Rights; Discrimination in and Access to Employment, Healthcare, Housing and Goods/Services; Poverty and Homelessness; Comprehensive Sex Education; Gender Based and LGBTI Violence and Policing; Legislative and Policy exclusions and blindspots. The LGBTI Policy Agenda aims to direct the media, politicians, and other national stakeholders’ attention towards issues that are most important for local LGBTI+ communities.