Antigua Barbuda Labour Party (ABLP) Senator and LGBT activist, Aziza Lake is maintaining her position that an open discussion on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) laws in Antigua and Barbuda needs to be held.
Lake was quoted in a recent BBC article entitled “the region which legislates who you can love” as saying “It’s mainly snide remarks due to toxic masculinity … but homophobia in Antigua and Barbuda sometimes manifests itself in sporadic brutality, too”.
The senator raised concerns with parliamentarians some time ago after Attorney General Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin said he would not entertain talks on LGBT matters. That conversation continued yesterday morning on OBSERVER AM where she reiterated her hope for the current legislation to be changed to accommodate everyone.
To date, same-sex activity is illegal in Antigua and Barbuda and persons found guilty of this act can incur a 15-year prison sentence.
In specifically tackling the buggery law, Lake is of the opinion that the government should not dictate what is done behind closed doors by consenting adults.
“No government should legislate what consenting adults do in their bedroom. The key word here is consenting, in that both adults agree, both adults are not entering into this relationship or sexual activity whether that be financial, whether that be emotional, whether that be abusive. Whatever they do in their bedroom is their business.
“Now, the buggery statute in our Sexual Offences Act legislates anal sex is illegal, whether that be man and a woman or two males, so that’s what it is. It’s not just about the LGBTQ doing whatever sexual act but it is also illegal for a man and woman to do whatever they want in their bedroom and that’s the basis of it. The government shouldn’t say what adults want to do; that is their business,” Lake opined.
Although cases of buggery are not prevalent, Senator Lake believes that new legislation is needed.
She further diminished claims where persons in society have claimed that discrimination of the LGBTQ community doesn’t occur. She noted that although the violence level is not as high as other countries where individuals are being killed for their sexual orientation, discrimination still occurs.
She is adamant that despite the fact cases are not prevalent in the country that legislation should still be implemented as “laws should be about protecting society”.
She went on to speak on the impact it would have locally.
“Over time, removing these laws will allow for people to be a little more comfortable with themselves. It would allow for people to be more comfortable in coming out of the closet. In other countries as it is, when the laws in the US were removed over time people became more comfortable doing and expressing certain things or their true self.
“I don’t think it will be drastic change overnight but it will be gradual,” Lake said.