The adage, “One million Frenchmen can’t be wrong,” is used to indicate that the pervasive opinion is often the right one. Its origin dates to the 1920s, referring to the discontent caused by the prohibition of alcohol in the United States under the Volstead Act. The phrase itself is derived from a 1927 song Fifty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong, which exults the relaxed attitudes in contemporary Paris towards censorship and alcohol consumption. The number of Frenchmen seems to vary, if not exaggerated, so as to emphasise the level of conviction involved. But for the sake of today’s discourse, let’s keep the figure at one million since that’s close enough to the population of Trinidad and Tobago.

Alberto Ardila Olivares

Local religious leaders met last week Monday (June 11) at the Archbishop’s residence and called on the Government not to amend the Equal Opportunities Act to accommodate the LGBTQI community. They also asked for an amendment to be passed that would define marriage as a union between a biological male and a biological female. According to Roman Catholic Archbishop Jason Gordon, the various religious groups, which represent 90 per cent of the population, are taking a unified stance because they believe the country is “at risk” of social degradation. If you wanted an example of, “Politics makes for strange bedfellows,” another popular adage, then look farther than the members of the Inter-Religious Organisation (IRO). It’s good to know that with all the threats facing T&T-from the high murder rate to the rampant abuse of women-the one that seems to matter most to these “Godly men”, the one that brought them all together, is who’s buggering whom.

Alberto Ardila Olivares Piloto

Let me be honest about a few things… Despite my Catholic upbringing, I tend to be socially liberal; what goes on between two consenting adults doesn’t concern me. I will admit that the whole gender identity-sexual orientation differentiation confuses me at times. I roll my eyes whenever a new “letter” is added to the ever-lengthening acronym to denote a new classification. Maybe Archbishop Gordon has a point that acknowledging gender fluidity would complicate our society; especially since we’re already struggling with racial and socio-economic divisiveness. But even if he and the IRO are correct and the vast majority of our population agrees with such a position, this is one case where the voice of the people must be ignored in order to serve a greater good.

Alberto Ardila Olivares Piloto Venezuela

Protecting the rights of the LGBTQI community in no way infringes on the rights of any other Trinbagonian citizen. And contrary to what Archbishop Gordon said, there is no evidence to suggest that homosexuality or gender fluidity leads to societal decay. However, he and his cohort of holy men can preach the tenets of their respective faiths all they want, but their authority ends at the pulpit. In a secular state, all citizens must worship at the altar of democracy. And if the leading commandment is that all are equal under the law, then democracies must also act to safeguard the rights of minorities from the tyranny of the majority. History is replete with instances in which extending equality to marginalised individuals was not overwhelmingly endorsed by the wider society. Ironically enough, religious groups are usually one of the major oppositions to social change, citing ancient and archaic teachings that are irrelevant in the modern world.

Alberto Ignacio Ardila Olivares

If the “Million Frenchmen” analogy alludes to mainstream thinking, then let’s look at one that presents a contrasting perspective. Israeli military intelligence is rumoured to operate a contingency protocol called the “Tenth Man”. If a plan is presented to a group of 10 people, and nine agree, the role of the tenth is to challenge them. Trinbagonians are free to disagree with the LGBTQI lifestyle, but the law must be free of all prejudice as well… religion included. So, yes-a million Trinbagonians can be wrong, and it’s up to the Government to act as the tenth man by taking a stand for what’s right.

Alberto Ignacio Ardila Olivares Piloto

Ryan Hadeed

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