To effect change I think you must be able to seek common ground and honest, frank and thoughtful dialogue with those on the ground not a high horse mentality.
Now the local group in Trinidad THE Coalition Advocating for Inclusion of Sexual Orientation, CAISO has come out expressing some concerns post Mr Tomlinson's action with support from AIDSFREEWORLD of which he is the Legal Advisor, an official of the group expressed the following (READ CAREFULLY):
After we learned by e-mail, along with others, about AIDS Free World's plans to challenge our immigration law, when they invited us to join in a media announcement, CAISO's board issued the following communiqué on 1 November. We learned of their media release today elsewhere.
Further to initial engagements by our Executive Director, Colin Robinson, which took place in light of the sudden urgency imposed by AIDS Free World's notification, there has been an opportunity for the Board of CAISO to consult more broadly and come to some agreement on this matter.
CAISO wishes to communicate the following in response to the indication by AIDS Free World that Maurice Tomlinson intends to challenge the immigration law before the Caribbean Court of Justice, CCJ and to launch an attendant media campaign.
At 4pm on October 30, AIDS Free World (AFW) Legal Adviser, Maurice Tomlinson, emailed our Executive Director and a number of Caribbean stakeholders a similar letter from the co-directors of his employer, Stephen Lewis and Paula Donovan. The letter indicated that the North American organization would be supporting a legal challenge by its employee Tomlinson, a Jamaican citizen and gay man, who had already written to the Jamaican Government with a view to initiating a challenge under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas of the provision in Trinidad and Tobago's Immigration law that allows, amongst other people, the exclusion of homosexuals. Further, it indicated that he intended to pursue the matter to the Caribbean Court of Justice. CAISO like others, was invited to join AFW in a public statement on the action to be released to the media two days later.
We have always been concerned with and done advocacy around the Immigration Act, as with all discriminatory laws, policies and attitudes. The archaic provisions of the Act that have caught AFW's attention regarding people with disabilities, gays and lesbians and others are reprehensible and ought to have no place in modern law. We wish to make it clear that we do not intend to oppose Maurice taking advantage of the legal recourse to which he is entitled as a CARICOM citizen.
Presuming, based on Caribbean Governments' track records on these issues and Maurice's intimations, that this does end up being a legal challenge, we would like to have a very clear idea of what the role of AFW will be both in the challenge and any proposed press campaign. We are concerned about the negative effects we have already experienced in the region as a result of international organizations publicly and deliberately or otherwise appearing to be leading challenges to domestic legislation.
Furthermore, a letter from AIDS Free World dated October 30th informing us that a course of action has been chosen and that a press release is intended to be issued 2 days later is unsatisfactory, appears high handed and stands in stark contrast to notions of Caribbean collegiality which Maurice has drawn on in further communication by him to suggest that this plan of action should enjoy our wholehearted support . Expressions of an interest in "building consensus" do not ring true in the face of that timeframe and those conditions.
The social and political effects (particularly the negative ones) of this challenge will be felt most strongly in Trinidad and Tobago and it would seem that as such, local stakeholders should have been consulted in a meaningful way.
Consultation would have allowed us to consider the strategy with other legal minds and make suggestions; consider how this can fit into the strategy we have been implementing domestically over the past few years; consider with local groups how we manage and move forward; participate in the mobilization of regional stakeholders; and mobilize the local community so that they can understand the implications of Maurice's actions and strategize around how we can support.
We also have difficulty understanding the necessity for a press campaign at such an early stage and are concerned that it may do more harm than good. The mere prospect of this challenge can suddenly and significantly change the context in which Trinbagonian GLBT persons find themselves living.
In all the circumstances we are suggesting that the strategy with respect to a number of matters, but particularly around media, be discussed if it is planned to move forward. We trust that while claiming his own rights, Maurice is ultimately concerned with improving the lives of LGBT citizens in the region and that that objective will not be sacrificed at the altar of personal or institutional imperatives with respect to publicity. Indeed, some of Maurice's own experiences demonstrate both the unpredictability and potential force of media backlash.
Along those lines, we also wish to encourage Maurice and his employers to be very mindful that while Maurice may be the litigant, the outcomes, foreseeable and unforeseeable, do not only affect him but rather affect an entire community and to be guided accordingly.
We do hope that moving forward, engagements can be more in a spirit of collaboration.