Caribbean: Anti-gay law is ripe for reversal, Antigua says

Location of Antigua in the Caribbean Sea. (Map courtesy of TuchmanTravelGuide.com)
Location of Antigua in the Caribbean Sea. [Note: This map omits Haiti, which is located on the western portion of the island of Hispaniola, which it shares with the Dominican Republic.] (Map courtesy of TuchmanTravelGuide.com)
If LGBTI rights activists in the Caribbean nation of Antigua & Barbuda mount a legal challenge, the courts there would likely nullify that nation’s ban on sexual relations between men, according to Antigua’s cabinet.

But the Antiguan government won’t take such action on its own.

As Antigua’s Daily Observer reported:

The government has said an outright no to repealing the laws [criminalising] buggery, a decision which has disappointed the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LBGT) community.

The Cabinet of Antigua & Barbuda, on [Aug. 24], agreed that “the buggery law will remain unchanged”.

In the same breath, government acknowledged that the results which were obtained in the recent historic Belize case are likely to follow, should an interest group pursue this matter in the courts, since “our jurisprudence is similar”.

The Supreme Court in Belize ruled a few weeks ago that a law which criminalises homosexuality was unconstitutional.

The decision was handed down six years after a gay citizen advocate, 42-year-old Caleb Orozco, brought the challenge against the attorney general of Belize.

LBGT activist Tasheka Lavann said she is gravely disappointed by the declaration, however she will remain undaunted.

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)

Antiguan law provides for up to 15 years in prison for consensual anal intercourse, whether between men or between a man and a woman.

The country’s minister of social transformation, Samantha Marshall, says the  law is antiquated and should be repealed.

Antigua is one of several Caribbean countries where the possibility of repealing such laws is at least being discussed. In Guyana, the prime minister has talked several times about repealing them. In Dominica, the prime minister says they’re not enforced.

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

2 Comments

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  1. Good afternoon, it seems your map is inaccurate as Haiti and Domican Republic are separated by a border, however Haiti is not listed on the map.

    • You are right, Vanessa. Haiti should be listed on the west side of the island it shares with the Dominican Republic. The map does look like the DR occupies the whole island.
      — Colin Stewart, editor of Erasing 76 Crimes

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