Human Rights Group ‘Disappointed’ After Court Dismisses Challenges To SVG Buggery Laws – St. Lucia Times

The content originally appeared on: St. Lucia Times News

Equal Rights, Access and Opportunities SVG Inc. (“ERAO SVG”) is disappointed that the consolidated cases of Vincentians Javin Kevin Vinc Johnson v The Attorney General of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines et al and Sean Mac Leish v The Attorney General of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines et al were unsuccessful in the High Court of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

Filed in 2019, these cases challenged sections 146 and 148 of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ Criminal Code (“Criminal Code”), titled “Buggery” and “Indecent practices between persons of the same sex” respectively.

Upon delivering the oral decision on the 16th of February 2024, Her Ladyship Justice Esco Lorene Henry dismissed both cases in their entirety.

This decision breaks recent trends in independent anglophone Caribbean countries where laws criminalizing private consensual same-sex relations between adults have been declared unconstitutional.

To date, independent anglophone Caribbean countries where laws criminalizing private consensual same-sex relations between adults have been declared unconstitutional are Belize, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Barbados.

Currently, apart from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, laws criminalizing private consensual same-sex relations between adults still exist in Jamaica, Dominica, St. Lucia, Grenada, and Guyana.

Reflecting on the decision, Attorney-at-law Jeshua Bardoo, who is also the Founder and Executive Officer of ERAO SVG stated, “This is sad day for LGBTQ+ rights in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Internationally and regionally, laws similar to those challenged in these cases have been declared unconstitutional and in violation of the rights of LGBTQ+ persons. These archaic and draconian colonial laws, though not strictly enforced, symbolically denigrate LGBTQ+ persons as second-class citizens in their own country and perpetuate prejudice and stigma against them. As a result, over the years, many LGBTQ+ persons in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines have faced physical, verbal, and emotional abuse, family violence and rejection, dropped out of school, homelessness, unemployment, workplace harassment, bullying, and sexual violence including rape and sexual harassment. They have suffered mistreatment from family, neighbors, coworkers, classmates, teachers, strangers, and even police officers. Due to the violence, harassment, and discrimination, many LGBTQ+ persons in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines have migrated, sought out asylum and/or refugee status in other countries. LGBTQ+ Vincentians exist. You can’t rape, beat, bully, or pray the gay away. I call on the State of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to repeal these archaic and draconian laws. I also encourage the State of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to create and enact legislation that expressly protects persons on grounds such as sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and sex characteristics, including but not limited to comprehensive anti-discrimination laws. This will help to ensure that Vincentians, including LGBTQ+ persons, are better protected from harassment, discrimination, and violence, in all spheres of Vincentian society”.

SOURCE: Equal Rights, Access and Opportunities SVG Inc.

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