Activists protest anti-LGBT violence in St. Vincent

Violent attacks on LGBT residents of St. Vincent are the latest homophobic response to a legal challenge seeking to overturn the Caribbean nation’s anti-gay laws.

“Discrimination-Free Zone” declares this graphic on the Facebook page for the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality (ECADE).

 

The regional LGBTQ advocacy group ECADE (the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality) is protesting the violence, urging the government to “safeguard those facing discrimination and violence because of outdated and unjust laws.”

This is ECADE’s press release:

Regional human rights groups say LGBT Vincentians living in fear
Urge a focus on real social ills following protests

(Castries, December 4, 2019) The Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality (ECADE), is urging a focus on real social ills in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. The regional human rights organisation works with local partner VincyCHAP to address laws and policies that discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Vincentians.

VincyCHAP and ECADE says there is heightened fear among LGBTQ Vincentians, who have reported a recent increase in verbal and physical attacks, particularly in Kingstown.

Kenita Placide, executive director of ECADE
Kenita Placide, executive director of ECADE

ECADE’s Executive Director Kenita Placide notes, “Since the challenge to Sections 146 and 148 of the SVG Criminal Code was announced, we have seen an uprising in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines that we have not seen even after horrendous assaults on innocent children and women or unprovoked attacks on citizens because of their sexuality. These are crimes against which their should be constant and loud outcry.”

Placide notes that the focus should always be on the responsibility to protect citizens from harm and preserve public order.  Following religious protests in the capital, LGBT Vincentians have reported at least four unprovoked attacks to VincyCHAP and ECADE.

“The Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines undertakes to respect, protect and promote the rights of all its citizens and Section 146 and 148 clearly go against the rights enshrined in the Constitution,” says Placide. “How can there be any objection to requesting that the State safeguard those facing discrimination and violence because of outdated and unjust laws?” Placide asks.

Section 146 and 148 are discriminatory laws used to target LGBT people. Punishment for breaking these laws is up to 10 years imprisonment. Both apply to men and women. Two gay men, exiled from their homes in Saint Vincent, filed cases at the High Court of SVG, challenging the constitutionality of these laws in July. in November the court ruled that ten churches, under the banner of the Christian Coalition, can join the Government in responding to the challenge. VincyCHAP and ECADE are not party to this particular litigation.

While noting that this is a constitutional and not a religious matter, ECADE still reminds the public of the exhortation by current head of the Roman Catholic, Pope Francis, who famously said regarding LGBT people, “Who am I to judge?…The key is for the church to welcome, not exclude and show mercy, not condemnation.”

The Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality Inc. (ECADE) is an independent umbrella organisation, representing the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Its membership consists of 26 organisations and is drawn from nine small island territories in the eastern Caribbean, including Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
Learn more at www.ecequality.org or email info@ecequality.org.
VincyCHAP is a legally registered non-governmental organisation, founded in 2007 that provides HIV education, counselling and testing in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
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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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