U.S. Rights Report Again Puts Spotlight On Caribbean’s Anti-Gay Laws

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US-State-Department-report- 2015

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry releases the 2015 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C., on April 13, 2016. (State Department image)

By NAN Contributor

News Americas, WASHINGTON, D.C., Fri. April 15, 2016: The U.S. has again put the spotlight on former British Caribbean colonies with on the book laws against same-sex coupling. The U.S. State Department ‘Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2015,’ unveiled Wednesday by Secretary of State John Kerry, cited 11 Caribbean nations as places where it remains illegal to have same-sex relations. They are:

1: Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda’s human rights infractions listed by the U.S. includes having laws on the book that discriminates against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons. The laws still existing in this former British colony includes the prohibition of anal intercourse and consensual same-sex sexual activity for men being deemed illegal under indecency statutes. Indecency statutes carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adult men carries a maximum penalty of 15 years in jail.

2: Barbados

In Barbados, a former British colony as well, the law also criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual activity between adults. However, the penalties are more severe with up to life imprisonment listed on the books though there were no reports of the law being enforced last year.

3: Belize

The Central American nation of Belize was slammed also for its laws which states that “carnal intercourse” with any person “against the order of nature” shall receive a punishment of 10 years’ imprisonment. The government interprets this law as including sex only between men. Additionally, Belize’s Immigration Act prohibits “homosexual” persons from entering the country even though immigration authorities did not enforce the law.

4: Dominica

In the Commonwealth of Dominica, consensual same-sex sexual activity for both sexes is illegal under indecency statutes. The law also prohibits anal intercourse between male partners through the laws are rarely enforced. But the indecency statutes carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adult men carries a maximum penalty of 10 years.

5: Grenada

In Grenada, it is illegal for men to have consensual same-sex sexual activities. They could face up to 10 years’ imprisonment. The law makes no provision for same-sex sexual activities between women.

6: Guyana

In the South American nation of Guyana, it is also illegal for adult men to have consensual same-sex relations and they could face up to two years in prison. Anal intercourse is punishable with a maximum sentence of life in prison, regardless of whether the intercourse is between persons of the same sex. There are no laws concerning same-sex sexual activity between women. The law also criminalizes cross-dressing.

7: Jamaica

In Jamaica, which the U.S.’ latest rights report says “homophobia is widespread,” laws on the book  prohibit “acts of gross indecency” (generally interpreted as any kind of physical intimacy) between persons of the same sex, in public or in private.) Such acts according to the law is punishable to two years in prison. There is also an “anti-buggery” law that criminalizes consensual as well as non-consensual anal intercourse. Anyone found guilty faces up to 10 years in prison. But the law was only largely enforced in cases of sexual assault and child molestation and was not used to prosecute consensual same-sex sexual conduct between men.

 

8: St. Kitts/Nevis

St. Kitts/Nevis’ laws criminalize consensual same-sex sexual activity between men with a penalty on the books of up to 10 years in prison. Still there were no reports of the law being enforced. The law does not prohibit sexual activity between women.

9: St. Lucia

In the deeply conservative society of St. Lucia, consensual same-sex sexual activity is illegal under indecency statutes, and some same-sex sexual activity between men is also illegal under anal intercourse laws. The indecency statutes carry a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment and anal intercourse carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.

10: St. Vincent & The Grenadines

In St. Vincent & The Grenadines, consensual same-sex conduct is also illegal under indecency statutes and some sexual activity between men is also illegal under anal intercourse laws. Indecency statutes carry a maximum penalty of five years, and anal intercourse acts carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. But these laws were rarely enforced.

11: Trinidad & Tobago

The twin-island of Trinidad & Tobago’s human rights problems listed by the U.S. includes having laws on the book that also discriminates against LGBTI persons. The T&T law, like many of their Caribbean neighbors, criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual activity, providing penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment. And like many other CARICOM nations, the government generally did not enforce such legislation, except in conjunction with more serious offenses such as rape. Immigration laws also bar the entry of “homosexuals” into the country, but the legislation is hardly enforced.

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