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Proposal for Antigua officials: Repeal anti-gay law

Samantha Marshall, Antigua's minister of social transformation (Photo courtesy of CaribbeanElections.com)
Samantha Marshall, Antigua’s minister of social transformation (Photo courtesy of CaribbeanElections.com)

The Caribbean nation of Antigua will soon repeal its law against same-sex intimacy, if the Antiguan minister of social transformation has her way.

Minister Samantha Marshall told the local newspaper, the Antigua Observer,  that she’s willing to make such a recommendation to the Cabinet. “I have no difficulty in making [such a recommendation],” she said.

“I think the law, as it was, is somewhat antiquated. To be honest I don’t know that it is something that is enforced at this stage and serves any purpose (and) so should be removed,” Marshall said, as reported in the newspaper’s article titled “Minister to recommend decriminalisation of buggery.”

During May’s routine periodic review of the country’s human rights record at the U.N. Human Rights Council, Antigua was urged to repeal that law.

The Antigua Observer reported:

“Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Legal Affairs, Senator Maureen Payne-Hyman, responded … that the law is not used to prosecute individuals for engaging in consensual buggery.

“Marshall added, ‘At the time, Senator Hyman was not in position to give that commitment (decriminalization) but as the Minister responsible for gender affairs I have no difficulty in making a recommendation to Cabinet for the removal of that part of the legislation.

“Section 12 of the Sexual Offenses Act 1995 makes buggery committed by an adult male to another adult male or female an offence for which the individual who committed the act may be imprisoned for up to 15 years.

“Though some argue that the provision can be applied to cases where buggery is committed non-consensually, the Act nonetheless criminalises consensual anal sex, which is often a practice of homosexuals. As such, many individuals locally and in the international community argue that the law discriminates against homosexuals.”

Location of Antigua in the Caribbean Sea. (Map courtesy of TuchmanTravelGuide.com)
Location of Antigua in the Caribbean Sea. (Map courtesy of TuchmanTravelGuide.com)

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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