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Laws in the Caribbean region that criminalize gay sex


Nepalnews
AP
2023 Jun 11, 20:15, ST JOHN’S, Antigua

In recent years, several Caribbean nations have struck down laws criminalizing same-sex relations — some of them dating back to the European colonial era.

Courts in Belize in 2016 and Trinidad and Tobago in 2018 found such laws unconstitutional. Last year, the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court also ruled Antigua and Barbuda’s “Sexual Offences Act” unconstitutional. The case was filed by a gay man who was persecuted for his sexual identity. Just months after the ruling, St. Kitts & Nevis and Barbados, struck down similar laws that often sought long prison sentences. Other cases in the region are pending.

Still, discrimination against LGBTQ people persists across the conservative and mostly Christian Caribbean. Some lawmakers and religious leaders oppose the abolition of anti-gay laws, invoking God in their arguments and calling gay relationships a sin.

Same-sex consensual intimacy is still criminalized in six Caribbean countries, according to Human Rights Watch and the London-based organization Human Dignity Trust. The maximum penalties in these countries range from 10 years to life in prison.

The laws “are seldom enforced against consenting persons. And the specific legal provisions vary from country to country,” Human Rights Watch wrote. “But they share one common trait: they all give social and legal sanction for discrimination, violence, stigma, and prejudice against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals.”

Here’s a quick look at the laws:

JAMAICA

Some LGBTQ-rights groups consider Jamaica the Caribbean nation most hostile to gay people. Jamaica’s government has argued that it doesn’t enforce its 1864 anti-sodomy laws. But activists say keeping these laws on the books stokes homophobia and violence against the LGBTQ community. The region’s leading human rights body agrees. Jamaica’s “Offences Against the Person Act” makes “the abominable crime of buggery” punishable by imprisonment and hard labor for up to 10 years.

DOMINICA

The “ Sexual Offences Act ” criminalizes same-sex sexual activity between men as well as women with sentences of up to 12 years’ imprisonment.

GRENADA

The Criminal Code criminalizes “unnatural connexion” — broadly understood as sexual intercourse between men — with sentences of up to 10 years in prison. It also criminalizes “ grossly indecent acts ”, with up to two years in prison and/or a fine. “While the language is gender-neutral, only sexual acts between men are criminalized under this provision,” according to Human Dignity Trust.

GUYANA

Life imprisonment for anyone “who commits buggery, either with a human being, or with any other living creature.” Under the “Criminal Law (Offences) Act,” anyone who “attempts to commit buggery; or assaults any person to commit buggery; or being a male, indecently assaults any other male person,” could be imprisoned for up to 10 years.

ST. LUCIA

Under the 2004 “ Criminal Code of St. Lucia,” any act of “gross indecency” committed by people of the same sex is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. “Buggery” also punishable with a 10-year sentence.

ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES

Criminalizes same-sex sexual activity between men as well as women with sentences of up to 10 years in prison. The 1990 “Criminal Code ” also punishes an “act of gross indecency with another person of the same sex” with up to five years in prison.

READ ALSO:

laws criminalizing same-sex Sexual Offences Act LGBTQ lesbian gay bisexual and transgender (LGBT)
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