The Caribbean Observatory on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and the Caribbean Family Planning Affiliation (CFPA) applaud the decision made by the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court to uphold the Sexual rights of the LGBTQ+ community in Saint Kitts and Nevis.
The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in the High Court of Justice ruled that sections 56 and 57 of the Offences Against the Person Act were unconstitutional. This upholds the rights of consenting adults to engage in same-sex intimacy, personal privacy and protection from discrimination on the basis of sex. Following the historic ruling in Antigua and Barbuda on July 5th 2022, Saint Kitts and Nevis is another milestone on the journey to a Caribbean where the sexual rights of its people are respected and protected.
Fr. Sean Major-Campbell, Anglican Priest, Lay Magistrate and human rights advocate joins with the Caribbean SRHR Observatory and CFPA in commending the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality (ECADE) and the Saint Kitts Nevis Alliance for Equality and the Saint Kitts Nevis Alliance for Equality (SKNAFE) for their courageous leadership and advocacy. “I am happy to affirm respect for freedom of expression and the protection of privacy. Advocating for the criminalizing those who think differently, contravenes the interest of democracy and human rights. The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis (St. Kitts and Nevis), is indeed a powerful light for our wider Caribbean jurisprudence. Justice for one is justice for all. Peace and blessings be with everyone in St. Kitts and Nevis; and indeed our beloved Caribbean family.”
At present, discrimination laws against LGBTQ+ persons exist in almost all countries in the Caribbean. The most discussed laws are those that criminalize consensual same sex relations, the so called ‘buggery’ laws that are still in place in Barbados, Dominica, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
This discrimination is in flagrant contradiction of ratified human rights conventions and other international commitments. Rights that are currently denied to LGBTQ+ community are clearly protected under human rights conventions such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR):
‘All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.’
Since 2006, the ‘Yogyakarta Principles’, based on the application of agreed international human rights law standards to ‘Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity’ (SOGI) were launched to reaffirm the dignity of the LGBTQ+ community in the face of violence and the lack of protection of their human rights .
Saint Kitts and Nevis joins the list of Caribbean countries such as Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Cuba, Haiti, The Dominican Republic, Belize, Trinidad and Tobago who have decriminalized same-sex sexual conduct. Suriname has had no laws against same-sex sexual activity since 1869. Currently, cases have been launched by civil society and individuals in St. Vincent & Grenadines, Jamaica, Barbados and Dominica (Carrillo, 2021: 5).
We stand in solidarity with all LGBTQ+ advocates and allies and urge Caribbean Governments to repeal all discriminatory laws that continue to marginalize and infringe upon the Human Rights of the LGBTQ+ community.