By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

PORT OF SPAIN, June 26, 2009 ( – The government of the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago has made a strong statement in favor of maintaining the role of traditional marriage in the country's cultural and social fabric, and said it will not relax its restrictions on abortion.

In the latest draft of the “National Policy on Gender and Development of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago,” which was approved by the Cabinet yesterday, the government affirms that it is opposed to same-sex relationships and will not endorse same-sex “marriage,” and has rejected a proposal to re-define “gender” to include homosexuals.

Minister of Community Development, Culture and Gender Affairs, Marlene McDonald, said in a news conference following the tabling of the document, “This document is very clear. We are not dealing with any issues relating to termination of pregnancy, same-sex unions, homosexuality, or sexual orientation. The Government's position is very clear also. The policy is that we do not support abortion. We are very clear on that.”

The original draft of the National Policy on Gender and Development, which was commissioned by the government and prepared by the Centre for Gender and Development Studies at the St. Augustine campus of the University of the West Indies (UWI) in 2002, was intended to provide guidance to governmental and civil society agencies in dealing with gender and development issues, and in responding to national, regional and international obligations.

However, the draft policy was met with criticism by pro-life and pro-family groups who pointed out that the original document promoted the legalization of abortion and could open the door to same-sex “marriages.”

The Emmanuel Community, a Roman Catholic church group that led opposition to the draft's original form and intent, said the document was attempting to “undermine the fabric of our society.”

Fr. George Pritchett, Spiritual Moderator for the Emmanuel Community, said that those who promoted removing restrictions on abortion would first seek to have abortion legalized in cases of rape and incest, and then slowly extend the range of legitimate reasons until it was completely legal.

Prime Minister Patrick Manning, who made it clear that the draft policy was not supported by his administration, insisted that the original document be reviewed and edited to reflect the moral and ethical standards of the country's citizens.

Trinidad and Tobago NewsDay has quoted Prime Minister Manning saying, “A man is a man; a woman is a woman. And whenever the twain meet it is in special circumstances,” when in 2006 he rejected a call to re-define “gender” to include homosexuals.

Minister McDonald said this latest draft, yesterday accepted by Cabinet, would soon be presented to Parliament as a green paper, where she anticipates that there will be much interest in this policy's development process. She also said that the government welcomes public comment.

To contact the office of Trinidad and Tobago's Prime Minister, Mr. Patrick Manning, go to

Read related LSN articles:

Activists Pushing Trinidad and Tobago to Legalize Abortion


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