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Society must deal with homophobia to move on — Verna

By CAROL MATROO Sunday, July 1 2012

Education is the key to dealing with homophobia, former minister of Gender Affairs, activist Verna St Rose-Greaves, said yesterday.

“It is not just a question of citizens who are gay, but a question that society has to deal with because we are all asking for behaviour change and the answer to HIV and AIDS,” St Rose-Greaves said during a media training session on HIV/AIDS and Sexual Reproductive Health Rights, with a focus on LGBTs (Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transexuals) and Gay Workers, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Port-of-Spain.

“We are always asking somebody to change their behaviour ... you change your sexual behaviour, you change this, you change that. We are not talking about our own behaviour as media practitioners, as social workers and health care providers, and how our behaviour takes away the rights of minorities, takes away the rights from the people who are being discriminated against.”

The former minister, who has refused an ambassadorship to Costa Rica in the wake of her dismissal as a minister, said the media had an important role to play in raising the consciousness of the nation in educating people about LGBT.

“It’s a role that we cannot run away from. The cycle will not be broken if we do not educate the public, and our role in educating the public as media practitioners must go hand in hand with getting the story.”

St Rose-Greaves added that (media) practitioners needed to educate themselves and to stick to some of the guidelines in giving all sides of the story.

“Even though you get your story and you put out the information, you should also put something that would put people closer to understanding the situation,” she said.

During the discussion, St-Rose Greaves pointed out the phenomenon of social exclusion and said one needed to ask why one chose to be gay or lesbian.

“Why choose this way of life?”

It was also suggested that maybe a gay person did not choose this path in life, but parents had to understand the paths their children have chosen. Religion also had a path to play with “gay- lesbian relationships”, she said.

Yesterday’s event was hosted by the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC), El Centro de Orientacion e Investigacion Integral (COIN), with support from PANCAP Global Fund Round 9.

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