LGBTQIA+ RIGHTS IN SVG
OVERVIEW OF THE DOMESTIC SITUATION
In Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), many LGBTQIA+ persons, especially those from poorer, lower socio-economic backgrounds, trans women and gender diverse persons, experience grave violations of their human rights, including violence and discrimination.
This violence and discrimination was highlighted in a Human Rights Watch report.
On Thursday, the 20th of July 2023, Human Rights Watch published its shocking report:
This 58-page report, exposes the physical and verbal assaults, family violence, homelessness, workplace harassment, bullying, and sexual violence that sexual and gender minorities face under the shadow of discriminatory laws.
Those responsible for mistreatment include people close to LGBT people – family members, neighbors, coworkers, classmates, and teachers – as well as strangers and police officers.
Amongst other things, it called on the legislature to repeal the country’s colonial-era laws that criminalize consensual same-sex conduct and pass comprehensive civil legislation prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
In SVG, private consensual same-sex relations between adults are illegal by virtue of section 146 (Buggery), 147 (Assault with intent to commit buggery), and 148 (Indecent practices with persons of the same sex) of the Criminal Code. These laws are a legacy of British colonialism. However, these laws are currently being challenged before the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.
Section 146 titled “Buggery” provides that:
“Any person who—
(a) commits buggery with any other person;
(b) commits buggery with an animal; or
(c) permits any person to commit buggery with him or her,
is guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for ten years.”
Section 147 titled “Assault with intent to commit buggery” provides that:
“Any person who commits an assault with intent to commit buggery, is guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for seven years.”
Section 148 titled “Indecent practices between persons of the same sex” provides that:
“Any person who, whether in public or private, commits any act of gross indecency with another person of the same sex, or procures or attempts to procure another person of the same sex to commit an act of gross indecency with him or her, is guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for five years.”
Neither the Constitution nor any domestic laws explicitly protect persons from discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation or gender identity in areas such as education, health, employment, housing and the provision of goods and services. There is no legislation addressing hate crimes. Moreover, gay marriage and all forms of same-sex unions are illegal. There is also a lack of proper disaggregated data on LGBTQIA+ issues in the country.
It is important to note that SVG has not signed nor ratified the Inter-American Convention Against All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance, the only convention globally that expressly protects from discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression.
EASTERN CARIBBEAN SUPREME COURT SENTENCING GUIDELINES
In SVG, the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court has jurisdiction over High Court and Appeal Court Matters. The Privy Council, based in the UK, is its final appellate court.
In 2019, the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court published sentencing guidelines for territories in the Caribbean that have accepted its Jurisdiction, namely; Antigua and Barbuda, Anguilla, Dominica, Grenada, US Virgin Islands, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Montserrat. Criminal courts are required to apply the guidelines unless to do so would not be in the interests of justice. It is only permissible to depart from the guidelines in exceptional circumstances, where such departure can be justified. Clear reasons for not applying these guidelines must be given when passing sentence. It is required that every court will follow the steps in the guidelines before the sentence is passed against an offender.
Most of these sentencing guidelines take into account various factors such as the “sexual orientation”, “sexual identity”, or “transexual identity” of the victim and whether they were a motivating factor for the perpetrators of homicide offences, sexual offences, dishonesty offences, and violence offences.
It is important to note that these guidelines are not laws passed by States. They are documents developed by the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, in consultation with different judicial actors, to help guide the sentencing process in courts in territories that have accepted its jurisdiction.
CARIBBEAN EXAMINATIONS COUNCIL
In the module on the ‘Individual, Family and Society’ under General Objectives, students are required to “examine causes and effects of contemporary social issues that influence and affect persons in Caribbean family life” with content to be taught on social issues affecting “Vulnerable persons include … the LGBTQ+ community”.
Apart from this the curriculum, in primary and secondary schools in SVG do not provide comprehensive sexuality education.
LGBTQIA+ RIGHTS ARE HUMAN RIGHTS!
ERAO SVG LGBTQIA+
OVERVIEW OF ACTIVITIES/EVENTS
17th June, 2023 - Panel Discussion "Violence and Discrimination Affecting the LGBTQIA+ Community in SVG" in collaboration with IKTV at Beachcombers Hotel Conference Room.
10th June, 2023 - "Breaking the Stigma: Understanding Sex, Sexuality and Gender in the Context of Vincentian Society" workshop at Paradise Beach Hotel.
08th June, 2023 - Pride SVG Lunch Reception in collaboration with the British High Commission.
See photo of flyer for event here. See photos here.
26th November, 2022 - Gender and Sexuality Workshop at Paradise Beach Hotel conducted by Dr. Alisa Alvis.
25th June, 2022 - Pride Month "History of Anti-Gay Laws in the British Empire" Zoom seminar conducted by Jeshua Bardoo.
26th, March, 2022 - "Sexual offences in SVG: Where is the justice?" online seminar conducted by Jeshua Bardoo.
26th February, 2022 - "Discriminatory laws affecting LGBTQ+ individuals in SVG: State-sanctioned homophobia?" online seminar conducted by Jeshua Bardoo.
ERAO SVG was pleased to assist Human Rights Watch in conducting research and interviewing persons for there July 20th, 2023, report:
See photo of us having dinner with the team at Human Rights Watch along with RedRoot SVG Inc. during their visit.