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to decriminalise gay

New York — Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) face bias-motivated violence and discrimination in their daily life, Human Rights Watch said in a recent report.

“The legislature should repeal the country’s colonial-era laws that criminalise consensual same-sex conduct and pass comprehensive civil legislation prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” a press release said.

The 58-page report, “They Can Harass Us Because of the Laws’: Violence and Discrimination against LGBT People in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines,” exposes the physical and verbal assaults, family violence, homelessness, workplace harassment, bullying, and sexual violence that sexual and gender minorities face under the shadow of discriminatory laws.

Those responsible for mistreatment include people close to LGBT people — family members, neighbours, co-workers, classmates, and teachers — as well as strangers and police officers, a press release said. 

“The criminalisation of gay sex gives tacit state sanction to the discrimination and violence that LGBT people experience in their daily lives and compels many to look abroad to live freely and fulfil their dreams,” said Cristian González Cabrera, LGBT rights researcher at Human Rights Watch.

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“The lack of public policies in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines acknowledging the needs and capacities of LGBT people has furthered their social and economic marginalization, barring them from contributing fully to society.”

SVG is one of six countries in the Western Hemisphere that still criminalises gay sex.

The law prescribes with up to 10 years in prison for “buggery,” or anal sex, and with up to five years for “gross indecency with another person of the same sex” but these laws are seldom enforced in cases of consenting adult engaging in these activities in private.

“These laws single out consensual gay sex in the ‘sexual offences’ section of the criminal code that is otherwise reserved for crimes like rape, incest, and sexual assault. While there have been no recent convictions on the basis of these criminal provisions, the laws stigmatise LGBT people and create an obstacle to full equality,” the release said, noting that Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, and St. Lucia also criminalise gay sex are

Human Rights Watch said conducted most of the 30 interviews for this report during a research trip to St. Vincent in October 2022 and conducted additional remote interviews, reviewed documentary evidence and a range of secondary sources, and carried out legal analyses in early 2023.

“Archaic laws outlawing consensual same-sex conduct, although dormant, contribute to a climate in which discrimination and violence take place with impunity. As a 25-year-old gay man from Saint Vincent told Human Rights Watch, ‘People feel they can harass us because of the laws. If people are having an argument, that’s [their] justification for homophobia. They say it’s the laws, that it’s illegal’,” the press release said.

It continued: 

“Nearly all LGBT people interviewed reported at least one recent incident of physical or verbal abuse, threats, sexual violence, or harassment. Some had sought police assistance, but in most instances, the authorities were not helpful, and in some cases they were openly discriminatory towards them, those interviewed said.”

The press release said most of the LGBT people interviewed said their family members had physically and verbally abused them.

“For many, family violence deprived them of a social safety net, sometimes leading to a precarious life, including homelessness. Some said that family rejection was often couched in moralistic terms, echoing the homophobic rhetoric preached in some churches, which are a cornerstone of social life and shape social attitudes in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

“For LGBT job seekers, employment discrimination is common. While unemployment is generally high in the country, LGBT people face additional barriers. Many people interviewed said they were not hired, or they had been fired explicitly because of their sexual orientation. Some lesbian and bisexual women interviewed said they faced sexual harassment in the workplace because of their sexual orientation, gender, or both.”

The release said that at school, most of those interviewed had experienced stigma and discrimination from teachers and fellow students. Most also endured physical and verbal bullying, which led some to leave school early, setting them on a path to economic and social marginalisation.

For some, bullying was often accompanied by sexual harassment and violence.

“Every LGBT person interviewed said they wished to leave the country and envisioned their future abroad due, in part, to the homophobic or transphobic violence and discrimination in the country.”

The release noted that SVG has ratified international human rights treaties that obligate the government to protect the rights of everyone, including LGBT people, to life and security, freedom from ill-treatment, non-discrimination, housing, work, and education.

Consensual sexual relations are protected under the right to freedom from discrimination, the right to privacy, and the right to protection of the law against arbitrary and unlawful interference with, or attacks on, one’s private and family life and honour.

“The House of Assembly should repeal the buggery and gross indecency provisions in the criminal code and pass comprehensive civil anti-discrimination legislation that includes protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

“The National Prosecution Service and the National Security Ministry should develop policies to ensure prompt, thorough, and independent investigations into crimes and discrimination against LGBT people and hold those responsible accountable, including law enforcement officers.

“Ministries responsible for labour and education should initiate public campaigns to educate employers, educators, and the general public on the basic human rights of LGBT people,” the press release stated. 

“Saint Vincent and the Grenadines should move closer to equality by recognizing and protecting sexual and gender diversity, thereby strengthening the rule of law for everyone,” González said. “It should also shake off relics of its colonial history and contribute to making the Western Hemisphere free of laws that punish people for whom they choose to love.”

6 replies on “Rights group calls on SVG to decriminalise gay sex”

  1. Orlando D Alexander says:

    St Vincent and the grenadines is deemed to be an independent state, and as far as the Oxford and other dictionarys explain, to be independent is not to be influenced by any outside forces.

    This includes the thoughts, feelings and beliefs of anything or anyone that may desire to influence our country because of the dilapidated mindset. The law is the law, when St Vincent and the grenadines is in turmoil we do not see any outside influence come in to help uplift and better out country, but to destroy the growth and well being all forces and strong holds will rush in.

    We as a people and as a nation of St Vincent and the grenadines need to stand for what we believe in and push out any outside influence. The LGBT community is a demonic cultivation force which seeks to but not limited to demoralized out country but to destroy the fute and kill population growth.

    Due to the fact that we are now aware of contraceptives the forcing their agenda to rapidly depopulate the world as a hold by killing the minds of our children.

    How can a country that stand on principles, standards and high Christian morals allow such satanic force to infiltrate even out media when we know right well that the media is the number one mind control tool that is destroying our society?

    Has St Vincent and the grenadines, the country I know to be called land of the blessed, has now gone to the dogs?? Have we given up our own legitimate God given right to be fruitful, multiply and replenish the earth: for some crazy ideology from a wayward group of people ( minority) who think they can change the world?

    The leaders and law makers of St Vincent and the grenadines needs to “wake up and make their own coffee, instead of waking up to the smell of another man tea”. Let them ask themselves which one of them came into this world from same sex intercourse, or who bring offspring from the above mentioned.

    Where is the independence of our nation? Where is the law and legal territorial inheritance from God in our country? America and the UK needs to stay in their own lane and stop interfering with other people welfare and their well-being.

  2. Percy Palmer says:

    This is a difficult top to handle especially when family members refuse to accept their relative sexual habits.
    Once the families are brought on side then there can be some protection for LGBT folks.
    It will take a long, long time for Vincentians to accept the LGBT living habits and style. LGBT people should and must now try to force their style of living on others. The backlash is and will be horrible. We are seeing this throughout the world.

  3. At least the LGBT community in St Vincent is never targeted, we do not have laws like Uganda which calls for execution. The LGBT community is free to carry on their activities in their own private domain unhindered undisturbed . The problem is when these people want to ram their beliefs on the rest of us. Leave us alone as one song that Becket once said in an old rendition.

  4. To the person who is making all these recommendations please send the money to fund all these projects. Another thing with the LGBTQ community is that they are always never satisfied and would keep pushing their agendas on straight society. The next thing you know they want to have parades ,license to marry, adopting children, sue the christian bakery for not catering to their gay weddings etc. SVG is too small to handle all this crop. Remember this little Island enjoys a tremendous amount of blessings from the Most High and we don’t want to loose it.

  5. Sorry!!! can’t add sin to sin.

    Take that elsewhere.

    U can’t see d curse we r under as d wicked rule.

    U think we could survive should we take that route.

    Next u going demand transgend!!rism?

  6. I stand with the Caribbean governments no to same sex …don’t try to change God law for personal gain…why do ppl think God want Adam an eve…it must be a man and a woman that’s God law

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