Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves, left, and Godwin Friday. (File photos)

Both Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves and Leader of the Opposition Godwin Friday have noted the right of persons to challenge the laws that criminalise buggery in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The two leaders expressed their views separately this week after a court challenge by Vincentians Sean MacLeish, 53, and Javin Johnson, 22, challenging the constitutionality of the laws.

Speaking on radio on Sunday, Gonsalves said the essence of the legal challenge is that it is unconstitutional to outlaw anal sex among consenting adults in the privacy of their home.

He noted that the buggery laws capture acts between same sex or heterosexual couples.

“People should have their day in court and the matter be ventilated and the court must pronounce,” said Gonsalves, a lawyer, who is also Minister of Justice.

“Clearly, the gay and lesbian community have decided internationally and regionally and I am making this comment in an objective manner, I am not making any comment other than objective, I am not expressing a view. They have clearly decided to test the constitutionality of these laws.”

He noted that the courts in Belize and Trinidad and Tobago have ruled that it is unconstitutional to prevent consenting adults from engaging in these activities in private.
The prime minister noted that similar challenges have been filed in Dominica and Barbados, adding that he understands that there are moves afoot to file similar cases in Jamaica and Guyana.

“I think if they file in Dominica and in St. Vincent, whatever happens here, it will be an OECS (Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States) decision because whatever happens here it will apply because all the constitutional provisions are similar and the legislation is basically similar and if the legislation is unconstitutional here and in Dominica, you can say it is unconstitutional in Antigua and in St. Kitts and Grenada and so on,” the prime minister said.

Meanwhile, speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, Friday said that the legal challenge is not surprising

“It’s not unexpected because this is something that has been done in other parts of the Caribbean as well,” said Friday, who is also a lawyer.

“The matter is in the court so I am not going to get too much into it. Just to say that the application that has been made to the court, that is the right of anyone to apply to the court if they feel their rights have been violated and the process will work its way through.”

Friday, also commented on the general issues of same-sex relations, saying “it is a very contentious matter publicly in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Caribbean.

“And what has happened in societies all over the world is that these laws and these practices, attitudes change over time and each society has to move along at its own pace,” the opposition leader said.

In their legal challenge, Johnson and Samuel are being advised by Queen’s Counsel Jeremy Johnson QC and Peter Laverack of 5 Essex Court in the United Kingdom.

The claimants assert that these laws strip their dignity and autonomy.

Johnson successfully claimed asylum in the United Kingdom in 2017 having established that he could not live as a gay man in St. Vincent. 

MacLeish, who lives in Chicago, Illinois, says he has failed in his public advocacy to Gonsalves for the removal of these laws so that he may return home with his partner.

The two claimants are unknown to each other, having separately decided that now is the time for decriminalisation, a press release said.

They say that these laws violate multiple and overlapping rights in the Constitution, which are there to protect all Vincentians, no matter who they are or who they love.

These court challenges come in the wake of Jason Jones’ successful challenge to Trinidad and Tobago’s anti-gay laws; a week after a similar challenge was filed in Dominica.

Commonwealth Caribbean nations inherited their buggery laws during British colonial rule.

The challenges were filed by St. Vincent lawyers, Zita Barnwell and Jomo Thomas, listing English barristers Jeremy Johnson QC and Peter Laverack of 5 Essex Court, London, as the intended trial advocates.

20 replies on “Leaders note legal right to challenge buggery laws”

  1. No to Buggery says:

    If the comrade want to loose the election ,let him mess with our buggery laws. What is done in the private we don’t care a darn. However, don’t Change our laws to make it possible for Adam to marry Steve.

    Let Mr Meleish come home with his partner and hold hands in public. He better have some stone proof gears to protect him and his partner.

  2. Let me say to you Mr prime Minister and the opposition leader .l think the two of you lack understanding of this sensitive issue.l think given you all moral and legal responsibility . before speaking on issue the two of you should have meet and then seek GOD.becacuse the head of eney country should be representing GOD.most leaders don’t but they should.and after seeking him he will tell the two of you to call for a referendum.

  3. The gays are coming! The gays are coming! We will have PRIDE MARCHES going down backstreet very soon.

    Just now if not already, teachers will be telling little Johnny and little susie, that you can two daddies or two mommies…lawd have mercy upon all the puritans in vincyland.

  4. David Wilson says:

    You will not live in peace in st Vincent and the grenadine either by this your own doing you have brought evil on your. own head evil will never leave your house as long as you continue in this evil and wicked life style st Vincent and the grenadine will not become a safe haven for gays or sodomite God Almighty Jehovah can change your life by coming to him and following his word why dont you try to do this instead.in the end our lord God will prevail. the lord God Jehovah will and shall prevail in the end.!!

  5. Rawlston Pompey says:

    DISTORTIONS OF THE SENSES – AVENUE FOR REDRESS

    Though they appear to be treading cautiously, legal luminaries ‘…Dr. Ralph Gonsalves and Godwin Friday’ shall not confuse a right not stipulated in law with an option to resort to the Judiciary to challenge a ‘…non-prescriptive right.’

    Not homophobic in any way.

    Consensually or not, except an illusion, no homosexuals can show, ‘…scripturally; …naturally; …morally; …legally; or …constitutionally’ that there is an inalienable right for a ‘…man to commit buggery with another man.

    Neither can it be said or conclusively shown that it is a ‘…Fundamental Right of the Individual.’

    To harbor such belief is to deceive oneself that a man enjoys;

    (i) …A Natural Right;

    (ii) …A Human Right;

    (iii) …A Constitutional Right; or

    (iv) …A Legal Right to bestialize a female animal through its reproductive organ.

    Legal luminaries, ‘…Dr. Ralph Gonsalves and Godwin Friday’ shall not confuse a right not stipulated in law with an option to resort to the Judiciary to challenge a ‘…non-prescriptive right.’

    Homosexuality or acts biblically considered as ‘abomination’ or sexual acts legislatively declared as ‘unnatural’ and criminally prosecutable, though contestable, has never been defined or prescribed as ‘a Universal Human Right.’

    It must have been for reasons of ‘…public and societal morality’ that it was not recognized as to be inserted in the ‘…Universal Declaration of Human Rights’ [1948].

    Moreover, when the nation attained its sovereignty and full political independence, the ‘…Fundamental Rights of the Individual’ contained in the Constitution Order [1979], never included ‘…sexual cohabitation between man and man,’ or ‘…woman and woman as a constitutional or legal right.’

    One would see if Judicial officers would reinforce in the minds of the people that the ‘…Court is the Bastion of Hope,’ or simply a ‘…figment of imagination.’

    1. The mob does not author laws. Wise men and women do. I would like to remind you that St Vincent is a democracy, not a theocracy. I don’t give two hoots about your biblical citations. They are valid in the context of religion or which Christianity is only one. Even their ethical value is questionable, given their unabashed chauvinism. In fact, there is much in the bible that is unethical. It was perfectly right, for example, for Jews to sell diseased meat (which sensibly they were forbidden to eat) to non Jews.

  6. If the law says they can do anything in the privacy of their home, then there is no need for a court approval. Why are 2 men forcing their behaviour on the rest of the population (more than 90K)? No matter what the court decides, Vincentians will not accept gay men nor women.

    1. Don’t fool yourself palmer, we have accepted gays in vincyland for a longtime. The problem is we don’t care who you sleeping with unless if t’s your man or woman.

      The buggery law is a low hanging fruit…the courts will rule it unconstitutional. The real issue is going forward and the consequences of removing such a law. If you say it’s legal for a man to have anal sex with another man, then you are opening the door for the next step, marriage between Adam and Steve.

  7. Just take a hard look at ourselves as a small needy nation, particularly when our political leaders grossly fail to give us any moral guidance. Our being this economically underdeveloped and deprived, dependent upon outsiders for support, we follow the givers into their immoral depravity, unable to resist their clarion calls into wanton debauchery.

    What a state we are in! Some here misguidedly rely on a Bible text for comport, that says at John 3:16 New King James Version (NKJV), “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten (unique) Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” However they are sure forgetting that God loves his own righteousness much, much more that he loves humanity! Therefore the judgement of God remains on all those who follow the clarion calls into wanton debauchery and depravity.

  8. WHAT ARRANT FOOLISHNESS! So what’s wrong with Adam marrying Steve? Quoting the Bible doesn’t make me any wiser. Do you stone adulterers? Do you stone disobedient children to death? Do you engage in polygamy? Do you have the right to put me and other atheists/agnostics to death? Your biblical justification for the persecution on non-conventional sexuality also prescribes the penalties I have listed. What I’m trying to tell you is that with human enlightenment came the rescinding of laws that unnecessarily impinge on human rights. Far more harmful to society is the large number of Vincentian children who go unacknowledged by their fathers. There’s something clamour about. But if I a man has an amorous relationship with another man, it concerns him and his partner; it has ABSOLUTELY no bearing on the rest of the society. Criminalizing gay sex is nothing less than bigotry.

  9. Saadisst show us that you have the guts to come down back street with your faggot partner. You know vincys are good at pelting mangoes. Rabacca have a lot of missiles. That’s all i will say . If you people thing you are going to ram things down our throat. I can smell a civil war. Not in vincy land I can assure you. It will never happen. We know you access to a lots of faggot money.Remember the biblical episode of David v Goliath? Put the question to a referendum and we will live with the results.

  10. Nigel don’t try that shit in in Vince You think Vince is Canada You know fully well our position on that shit. Try it and we will stone you all the way from Canada to Georgetown.

  11. Ralston Pompey you made a very important point, the constitution Act of 1979 never addressed the issue of sexual cohabitation. Therefore, if it is so, then one has to have a constitutional amendment to include so right or give such rights to gays. Do you agree with my reasoning?

  12. In today’s post Christian world, many indeed have no time for neither God nor Bible and that is fine, God indeed needs no defence, he is truly indeed big enough to defend himself and his Bible, but give a little thought to the civil institutions and values that has held our societies for so long up to today.

    Then now contemplate where and how those received values came into being and you will no doubt discover, that it was Christianity and Christian people who give us such the likes as schools, universal education, universal hospitals and above all accountable Governments.

    Hence, it is most prudent to look before we leap, thus if we abandon those given Christian values that have glued our societies together for so long, I am indeed quite sure, that we would truly eventually return from whence we came!

    Therefore, snarl if you wish HNIGELTHOMAS and others, but we will be abandoning those received Christian values at our sorry peril!

  13. Nigel we don’t care what you all want to do in private. If your want a man to bore a hole in you that’s good for you. The problem that most Vincentians have is when the minority wants to rule the majority, and in so doing we have to change our laws to accommodate you .This is the crux of the problem.

  14. I don’t care what you all say, the laws of the land are basically taken from the holy bible, don’t tell me about human rights nonsense, if you change our buggery laws then throw all other laws out as well and let us be the lawless nation that you want us to become. I know lot of you wont mind seeing this country go to hell in a hand basket but I will never support or cause to support such abomination on our land. Mr prime minister or leader of the opposition this is the time you need to have your people out with your cards but im almost certain it wont happen. too much big men and women in high office involve and will benefit from such devilish act. I will continue to teach my kids about the teaching of the word,

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