Jason Jones has been honoured with an Attitude Pride Award for his pivotal role in the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Trinidad and Tobago.
Growing up gay in the small Caribbean nation, 45-year-old Jason, who is now based in Lodon was verbally and physically abused on a daily basis – but he was determined to change anti-gay laws which saw gay sex between two consenting men punishable with up to 25 years in prison.
On 23 February 2017, he filed a now-historic motion to strike down colonial-era homophobic laws in the Caribbean nation – but death threats poured in and he was forced to go into hiding.
“I had 12 very serious threats and two of them had Arabic script,” Jason says. “A friend who works for a private security firm came over, looked at it and said, ‘We need to get you out of here right now’.”
But Jason didn’t let these threats stop him, and in April this year, his mission succeeded when a high court judge ruled that Sections 13 and 16 of the country’s Sexual Offences Act – which included the “buggery law” inherited from colonial Britain – were unconstitutional.
As well as liberating up to 100,000 LGBT+ living in Trinidad and Tobago, Jason’s act of defiance has given hope to LGBT+ communities around the world still fighting for the freedom to love.
“I had three emails from young gay men saying they were planning their suicide until they saw me on television [that day] and that there would be hope for them to live some sort of life in Trinidad,” Jaso says, choking back tears.
“The judgment is a historic document and it’s been cited in a Kenya case that is happening right now. They’re also going to be using it in Botswana and Jamaica, and Barbados just announced that they’re going to be bringing a similar case.
“That’s how important the case is, because it has set a precedent for other people to do similar things.”
Hear Jason’s inspiring story below:
You can more about this year’s Attitude Pride Award winner in our August issue, out July 19.