KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – There seems to be some inconsistency between the contents of an affidavit and audio recordings filed as part of private criminal complaints against Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.
The complaints were brought by Vynnette Frederick of the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP), one of the party’s candidates in the Dec. 13, 2010 general election.
Frederick, who is now an opposition senator, is claiming that Gonsalves made suggestions about her sexuality that affected her performance at the polls.
However, her sworn statement contains information from two different meetings, but referred to as coming from the same meeting, according to documents reaching I-Witness News.
“Ah mean, Bayliss would be a very unfortunate fellow if he send a daughter to study law, and came back and get a son, … a tomboy,” court documents quote Gonsalves as saying at a public meeting of his Unity Labour Party.
But Chief Magistrate Sonya Young refused to summons Gonsalves to court when they cases were called earlier this year.
High Court judge Gertel Thom in a Nov. 15 ruling said that the Chief Magistrate misdirected herself in making that decision and granted judicial review of Frederick’s case.
“The fact that a statement of fact is stated in the form of a rumour does not prevent it from being a fact,” wrote in her judgement.
“… the context in which he was using ‘tomboy’ was not simply a ‘tomboy’, but a male. That the ordinary and reasonable person in the constituency would find the statement to mean that Ms. Frederick left to study a female and she returned a male,” the judge further said.
The defence has since appealed the judge’s ruling and hearing is set for Dec. 9.
Frederick, in her June 16 sworn statement to the court, said that the context in which “tomboy” was used points toward “my sexual orientation, my sexuality and the fact that I went away to study law as a girl and returned as a boy …. a pregnant pause during the broadcast and then the word tomboy was said.
“What is more troubling is that during this period of a pregnant pause members of the electorate who attended the political meeting where the words were said, stated and shouted out ‘lesbian,’” Frederick, a lawyer, further wrote.
“This was heard not only by those who attended the political meeting but by those who heard the broadcast on radio. The phrase tomboy in the context in which it was said of me made it clear it was referring to me as a lesbian,” she said.
Frederick further said “the context of the words must be seen against the backdrop of chants from other persons who attended the political meeting saying lesbian and it was only that those chants that the words tomboy was said.”
But copies of the recordings, received by I-Witness News from two separate sources suggest that Gonsalves’ reference to “tomboy” and the “lesbian” statement by a member of the audience were made at two separate political meetings.
“… And Vynnette Frederick is not now a spring chicken. She has been … practising law for over the last seven or eight years or thereabout. And I ask this question. You know you see she on Digicel Rising Star and when she talking the impression yo’ get is like – yo’ know like if a mango drop before it ripe and it force ripe?” Gonsalves said at a political meeting of his Unity Labour Party in Park Hill on Aug. 29, 2010.
“… To show you the nature of their minds, when they brought false allegations against De Comrade, Bayliss Frederick went on radio and television and he said ‘Ralph got only two choices: He either kill heshelf or he resign.’ Well, I am still alive and the government and Ralph stronger than ever. Those are the sort of people who want to come and run. And then, comrades,” Gonsalves said, pausing for several seconds, before saying “they say she is a tomboy.”
During a subsequent pause, a voice, not that of Gonsalves, makes comments, in which the word “tomboy” and a comment suggestive of Frederick’s sexual orientation are quite pronounced.
“… I don’t know bout that,” Gonsalves says. “Ah mean, Bayliss would be a very unfortunate fellow if he send a daughter to study law, and came back and get a son, … a tomboy,” he added.
At another meeting of the ULP in Belmont on Nov. 23, 2010, Gonsalves said, “You know, I don’t want to say anything against Vynnette but I have said elsewhere in the constituency, there are three types of mangoes: ripe mango, green mango and fluxy mango. You take your choice.”
He continued after a brief musical interlude: “You know we have, I have nothing against an ambitious young lady,” at which point someone comments about Frederick’s sexuality.
“[B]ut the young lady,” Gonsalves added, at which point someone makes the same comment about Frederick’s sexuality and there is laughter.
[B]ut, the young lady really should spend a little time more in her profession, get a little more maturity before she comes and exposes herself to the electorate. She not ready yet,” Gonsalves further stated.
In her ruling, Justice Thom notes Frederick, in her June 16 affidavit, stated that it is not disputed that there is a pause between son and tomboy.
“During the pause, persons who attended the meeting were shouting ‘lesbian’. When the two statements are read together the meaning submitted by the Applicant is a meaning which the ordinary and reasonable person in the constituency listening to the address of Dr. Gonsalves would ascribe to the statement that Ms. Frederick was a lesbian. ‘Tomboy’ was used in a specific sense to mean a boy,” the judge further said.