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St Kitts and Nevis strikes down law criminalising gay sex, SASOD urges Guyana to follow suit


St Kitts and Nevis has become the latest country to declare laws that have criminalised same sex relationships are unconstitutional.


St Kitts and Nevis court upheld the plaintiffs’ claim that Sections 56 and 57 of the Offences Against the Person Act violated the right to privacy and freedom of expression.


Luisa Cabal, UNAIDS Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, said, “St. Kitts and Nevis joins a growing list of Caribbean nations that have overturned these colonial-era laws that deny people’s human rights and hold back the response to the HIV pandemic. Everyone benefits from decriminalisation.”


Joel Simpson, Managing Director of the Society Against Sexual Orientation Discrimination (SASOD), remains frustrated that Guyana continues to hold on to colonial-era laws which contravene the human rights of LGBT people.

“Not only is it frustrating, but the government needs to show leadership because all the courts in the Caribbean where these laws have been challenged are saying the same thing. They are unconstitutional; it violates rights to privacy, rights to non-discrimination, rights to human dignity, and so forth.”


These laws have now been repealed in four Caribbean Nations. In July this year, Antigua and Barbuda repealed their laws criminalising same-sex intimacy.


In 2019, Belize’s Court of Appeal confirmed that the Constitution protects non-discrimination based on sexual orientation.


November 2018 saw a century-old ban on “cross-dressing” in Guyana struck out, while laws prohibiting homosexuality in Trinidad were also overturned in the same year. Rulings are expected in Barbados and St. Lucia later this year.


“It’s simply about taking leadership, and now the Government of Guyana needs to take leadership on addressing the issue by simply repealing sections 3.51 to 3.53 of the Criminal Law Offences act gross indecency, buggery, and attempted buggery,” Simpson said.

The claim against the government of St. Kitts and Nevis was brought by a citizen, Jamal Jeffers, and St. Kitts and Nevis Alliance for Equality, with the support of the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality.


There remain seven countries in the Caribbean that criminalise gay sex between consenting adults, all of them former British colonies.


The Court ruling reduces to 68 the number of countries worldwide criminalising same-sex sexual relations.


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