07/2013

Crimes of the Caribbean: ‘Buggery’ and Beyond

An unusually high proportion of countries in the Caribbean still criminalize gay sex, a legacy of the status of many as former British colonies that inherited these laws. For much of its history, the British Empire had stringent laws against “buggery” (anal sex) both in Great Britain and in its colonial possessions. Like Belize, all the Caribbean countries with anti-gay-sex laws belong to the Commonwealth of Nations, made up predominantly of former British colonies. In the United Kingdom, the process of decriminalizing gay sex began in 1967 with the Sexual Offenses Act, which still precluded various forms of private gay sex. Today, the United Kingdom has a civil union law that protects gay relationships in ways similar to marriage and there has been an effort in the past two years to decriminalize gay sex in the entire Commonwealth, where 41 of 53 member states still retain such legislation. The Commonwealth Lawyers Association in 2011 called for decriminalization and, that November, British Prime Minister David Cameron used a Commonwealth summit to threaten the withdrawal of British aid from countries that fail to respect gay rights. What follows is a list of Caribbean nations that still criminalize LGBT sex.

Antigua and Barbuda

Crime: Buggery, serious indecency

Who can be prosecuted: Men and women

Penalty: Up to 15 years in prison

Barbados

Crime: Buggery, serious indecency

Who can be prosecuted: Men and women

Penalty: Up to life in prison

Belize

Crime: Carnal intercourse against the order of nature

Who can be prosecuted: Men and women

Penalty: 10 years in prison

Dominica

Crime: Buggery, gross indecency

Who can be prosecuted: Men and women

Penalty: Up to 10 years in prison

Grenada

Crime: Unnatural connection

Who can be prosecuted: Men

Penalty: Up to 10 years in prison

Guyana

Crime: Buggery, gross indecency

Who can be prosecuted: Men

Penalty: Up to life in prison

Jamaica

Crime: Buggery, gross indecency

Who can be prosecuted: Men

Penalty: Up to 10 years in prison

St. Kitts and Nevis

Crime: Buggery

Who can be prosecuted: Men

Penalty: Up to 10 years in prison

St. Lucia

Crime: Buggery, gross indecency

Who can be prosecuted: Men and women

Penalty: Up to 10 years in prison

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Crime: Buggery, gross indecency

Who can be prosecuted: Men and women

Penalty: Up to 10 years in prison

Trinidad and Tobago

Crime: Buggery, serious indecency

Who can be prosecuted: Men and women

Penalty: Up to 25 years in prison


Source: Human Dignity Trust. For a map of all countries that criminalize gay sex, see: www.humandignitytrust.org