Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves on the Samoa Agreement (Image Credits: Google Images)

PM Dr Ralph Gonsalves clarifies stance on Samoa Agreement

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PM Dr Ralph Gonsalves of St Vincent and the Grenadines has decided to address what he terms as ‘outlandish’ claims and allegations against the signing of the Samoa Agreement. The kerfuffle arises from the notion that St Vincent and the Grenadines would be forced to make whole sale changes to multiple laws, such as the one on same-sex marriage.

The European Union has recently taken up the task of penning a deal to succeed the Cotonou Agreement for the foreseeable future so as to address issues such as human rights, peace, security and sustainable development.

The new partnership agreement has been signed by EU member states, members of African, Caribbean and Pacific states.

Prime Minister Gonsalves made an attempt to assuage these concerns by stating that St Vincent and the Grenadines had not signed any documents demanding that the nation alter its legislations on same sex marriage and transgender rights.

Having said that, the Prime Minister was quick to add that the provisions and legislations given in the criminal code will be put before the court so that a judgement can be made on whether they are constitutional or not.

Thus, legislations criminalizing homosexual relationships might be altered after all. PM Gonsalves has also said that the government will present the stance that the legislations are not unconstitutional.

In any case, PM Gonsalves believes that the matter, if not adjudicated by the court, could be put before the parliament. In his opinion the parliament would be best suited to address this matter.

In an official statement he said, “I assure everybody that SVG in its interface with other countries… we always respect the countries’ views and the like, but we have our own determinations on particular matters and any alteration in our existing law has to be done by the Parliament and there is no intention for the Parliament to alter any of our positions as they are laid out in our laws in relation to the controversial questions concerning same-sex marriages and the like.”

He went on to reiterate the government’s stance on whether the current legislations are unconstitutional or not.

“We don’t know what will be the outcome…we know in other jurisdictions in the region there have been rulings that these provisions, similar to what is in SVG’s laws, are unconstitutional… but we would like to see these matters tested at the higher level.”

He has also requested citizens of St Vincent and the Grenadines remain calm as the Samoa Agreement has been considered extensively by all parties.

The agreement aims to enhance the lives of citizens with a special focus on the youth, woman and child welfare, human rights, gender equality, geriatric welfare and inclusiveness.

The European Union has stated that the agreement is meant to formulate principles which prioritize issues surrounding:

  1. Inclusive, sustainable economic growth and development
  2. Environmental sustainability and climate change
  • Migration and mobility
  1. Human rights, democracy and governance
  2. Peace and security
  3. Human and social development

The statement by Prime Minister Gonsalves has also gained the support of a popular human rights organisation in the region called Equal Rights, Access and Opportunities SVG (ERAO SVG). The organisation has seconded his Prime Minister, saying that the Samoa Agreement makes no mention of legislations on same sex marriage, abortion and transgender rights.

ERAO SVG has also asked citizens to be wary of misinformation and remember to be considerate of the vulnerable communities of the nation.