Types of criminalisation

  • Criminalises sex between men
  • Criminalises sex between women
Commonwealth member state
Sexual Offences Act 1992, Section 9 Buggery

Section 9 criminalises the act of buggery with life imprisonment. It only applies sexual intercourse between men.1

Sexual Offences Act 1992, Section 12 Serious Indecency

Section 12 criminalises acts of “serious indecency”, defined as any “act, whether natural or unnatural by a person involving the use of the genital organs for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire.” It is applicable to such acts between men and between women and is punishable with imprisonment of up to ten years.2



The US Department of State Human Rights Country Report has consistently found that there were no reports of the law being enforced in cases involving consensual sexual activity. 

Statements by Public Figures


In March, the Minister of Social Care and Community Development was reported stating, “The LGBT lobby is so insistent, so persistent, claiming this community is being marginalised and stigmatised… They have been so insistent and persistent that I, as a straight person, you as a straight person, we’re beginning to feel marginalised, harassed and stigmatised by them.”


In April, then Attorney General, Adriel Brathwaite during a call with Canadian High Commissioner, Marie Legault, asserted that the LGBT community in Barbados were not persecuted and said that Barbados was one of the Caribbean islands where LGBT people could live without fearing for their lives.


In September, then Barbadian Prime Minister Freundel Stuart when asked about Barbados’ harsh buggery laws maintained that the buggery laws were merely the same-sex equivalent of rape laws. He said, “Rape is the offence committed against in a heterosexual relationship, and buggery is the offence committed in a same-sex relationship. At the kernel of both is the absence of consent.”

In February then Minister of Education Ronald Jones, during a debate on the Domestic Violence Amendment Bill 2016, stated, “I want persons in this country to understand that it is no longer a situation of domestic abuse of male on female, or female on male or where children are caught up… but today, with contemporary lifestyles it might very well be female on female and male on male.”


In January, the head of B-GLAD (Barbados Gays and Lesbians Against Discrimination) Donnya Piggott was presented with a Young Leaders Award by Queen Elizabeth ll. Piggott said: “I’m elated, happy for this award. What it does is it recognises the cause.”

I’m elated, happy for this award. What it does is it recognises the cause.

Donnya Piggott



In December, CariFLAGS, a coalition of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) organisations in the Caribbean, sent a letter to then Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart, expressing disappointment in his silence on the matter of equality and gender-neutral legislation, and reminded him of his duty and pledge to uphold human rights for all Barbadians. The letter was prompted by the debate swirling around Barbadian Minister of Environment & Drainage, Dr Denis Lowe, who had spoken out in opposition to gender-neutral laws. The group further urged Stuart to clarify the position of the Barbados constitution and his own Government on the exclusion of specific Barbadians from social protection, since Lowe continues to serve in his Cabinet.[vi]

In June youth leaders from Caribbean countries with anti-LGBT laws met last in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, where they signed a declaration seeking greater social acceptance of LGBT people and the repeal of unfair laws against them.

In May, a press release of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights quoted Barbados’ Prime Minister Freundel Stuart as supporting “the elimination of all forms of discrimination including discrimination against persons of differing sexual orientation.” In Antigua and Barbuda, politicians also had the chance to publicly discuss LGBTI issues at the National Youth Forum.


Speaking to the Christian Church in August, then Prime Minister, Freundel Stuart, warned that until there was conclusive evidence on whether or not homosexuality was genetic, the church should show compassion – adding that, whilst the church could argue on moral grounds, it would lose the human rights argument: “Until we can resolve the issue of nature and nurture, until we can clearly put ourselves in a position where we can say people who pursue that orientation, do it out of perverseness, rather than out of the fact that their own physiological make up, makes it very difficult for them to go in any other direction – until we can resolve that, we have a challenge on our hands.”


Following calls by then UK Prime Minister David Cameron to legalise same-sex relations, Barbadian Attorney-General Adriel Brathwaite stated that Barbados’ “position on homosexuality was not for sale and that its legislative agenda would be determined at home.”


In September, the Prime Minister of Barbados spoke in defence of LGBT rights: “Very little attempt is made now to consider that it might just be that practitioners of this lifestyle [homosexuality] were responding to the irresistible promptings of nature with the result that imputing fault to them satisfied no known definition of fairness. Further, that even if rather than responding to nature’s promptings, these practitioners were pursuing this lifestyle as a result of nurture, in which case they may have been exercising some measure of choice, the right to choose in these circumstances was protected by the Constitution as long as its exercise did not interfere with the rights of others.”

Persecution and Discrimination


In March, Human Rights Watch published a report, titled I Had to Leave to Be Mehighlighting the extent of discrimination against LGBT people living in the Eastern Caribbean. The report covered Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Interviewees described harassment by family members and fears of isolation, violence and homelessness.

In February trans activist Alexa Hoffman, was attacked with a meat cleaver in her home by a former tenant. Hoffman reported that the police had been slow to respond to the attack despite knowing the identity of the attacker.


In May, the newspaper, Nation, wrote an article referring to the rape of a person who was either a gender non-conforming woman or transgender man, as “male medicine.” LGBT civil society organisation, B-GLAD, condemned the piece and stated it was a “perfect example” of the lack of value placed on LGBT lives and on the lives of masculine-expressive lesbians.[iv]

The driver stated that her throat should be cut, and none of the passengers objected.

A Barbados bus driver and fellow passengers allegedly verbally abused a female passenger after identifying her as a lesbian. The driver stated that her throat should be cut, and none of the passengers objected.


The US Department of State’s Human Rights Country Report documented that activists reported that stigma against LGBT persons persisted. Activists reported violent incidents based on sexual orientation or gender identity but suggested that social stigma and fear of retribution or reprisal rendered the problem underreported by LGBT persons. Anecdotal evidence suggested that LGBT persons faced discrimination in employment, housing, and access to education and health care. Activists suggested that while many LGBT individuals lived openly, disapprobation by police officers and societal discrimination against LGBT persons occurred. Donnya Piggott, Director of Barbados Gays, Lesbians and All-Sexuals against Discrimination (B-GLAD), stated that a recent study on discrimination against LGBT people in Barbados found more than 60 unreported instances of discrimination based on sexual orientation in the preceding five years.


One man reported stones thrown at him and was insulted with homophobic slurs, an act which was condemned by local LGBT groups. The president of Gays and Lesbians against AIDS Barbados, Darcy Dear, called for the Church and authorities to recognise that acts of persecution against LGBT persons exist.

Legislative News


During its UPR third cycle, Barbados noted recommendations to decriminalise consensual same-sex intimacy and to address discrimination and violence against LGBT people. In the Report of the Working Group, Barbados indicated that: “There was no political mandate to legalize same-sex relationships. Similarly, there was no national consensus on the issue of repealing the country’s laws on buggery.”

In June three members of the LGBT community, Alexa Hoffman, a transgender woman along with a lesbian and gay man, filed a petition at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights against Barbados’ buggery laws.


In November then Minister of the Environment Dr Denis Lowe stated he would resign rather than co-sponsor a bill that would make domestic violence legislation gender-neutral. This followed a commitment by Minister of Labour Senator Dr Esther Byer Suckoo in 2009 to implement domestic violence legislation covering all unions.

In June, the Barbados noted that it could not join the consensus on the approval of an OAS resolution on sexual orientation, stating, “a number of the issues and terms contained in the Resolution are neither reflected in its national laws nor the subject of national consensus. As such, Barbados would not be in a position to meet these requirements.”


During its UPR second cycle, Barbados rejected recommendations to decriminalise consensual same-sex sexual intimacy. However, it accepted recommendations to implement measures which would protect sexual minorities from violence and abuse.

1. Sexual Offences Act 1992, Section 9 Buggery

“Any person who commits buggery is guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for life.” Full text.

2. Sexual Offences Act 1992, Section 12 Serious Indecency

“(1) A person who commits an act of serious indecency on or towards another or incites another to commit that act with the person or with another person is guilty of an offence and, if committed on or towards a person 16 years of age or more or if the person incited is of 16 years of age or more, is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term of 10 years.

(3) An act of “serious indecency” is an act, whether natural or unnatural by a person involving the use of the genital organs for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire.” Full text.

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