Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Wednesday urged Eastern Caribbean countries to repeal colonial “buggery” laws.
Among a variety of requests, HRW urged the countries, including Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines, to repeal all laws that criminalise consensual activity among same-sex couples, pass laws defining rape in gender-neutral ways, and conduct awareness raising campaigns for the LGBT community.
According to HRW: “All seven countries have versions of buggery and gross indecency laws, relics of British colonialism, that prohibit same-sex conduct between consenting persons.
“The laws have broad latitude, are vaguely worded, and serve to legitimise discrimination and hostility towards LGBT people in the Eastern Caribbean.”
The advocacy site said those laws are rarely enforced by way of criminal prosecutions. It added that they all “give social and legal sanction for discrimination, violence, stigma, and prejudice against LGBT individuals” by singling out those groups in a discriminatory manner.
According to the statement, “upon interviewing various citizens of the Eastern Caribbean countries, HRW reported that members of the LGBT community fear coming out to their families or communities due to experiences of already being ostracised for their identity.”
HRW also asserted that members of the community have experienced homelessness due to lack of financial support making them increasingly vulnerable to an array of abuses. The
discriminatory laws, HRW claims, prevent members of the LGBT community
from reporting on these issues, where they have experienced lack of protection and empathy from the police.
Despite Eastern Caribbean laws, international law protects the LGBT community by prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. HRW confirms that all countries mentioned in the report have ratified international treaties requiring them to protect the LGBT community.