Types of criminalisation

  • Criminalises sex between men
  • Criminalises sex between women
Commonwealth member state
Criminal Code 1990, S. 146 Buggery

Section 146 prohibits buggery with a penalty of ten years imprisonment. The law applies to both men and women.1

Criminal Code 1990, S. 148 Gross Indecency

Section 148 criminalises “gross indecency” between persons of the same sex, as well as the procurement or attempted procurement thereof, with a penalty of five years imprisonment. Both men and women are criminalised by this provision.2

Enforcement

2017

The US Department of State Human Rights Report for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines states that the laws were not enforced during the year, which reflects the practice in previous years.

Statements by Public Figures

2017

A dozen Christian ministers from Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and four other Caribbean countries urged the US to stop promoting LGBT rights abroad in a 2017 letter to US President Donald Trump. In the letter, the ministers claimed that the US had “undertaken to coerce our countries into accepting a mistaken version of marriage.”

2015

In March, opposition politician and spokesperson on gender issues, Senator Vynnette Frederick, of the New Democratic Party, has reportedly told her party that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines needs to start talking about issues of sexuality. Senator Frederick explained that “We feel what is going to happen is that the international community will force the Caribbean to confront the issue of our attitude toward persons who are homosexual.”

2014

In July, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves was reported to have cautioned against merging the fight against HIV/AIDs with a gay rights agenda. Following the CARICOM Summit during which the PANCAP HIV/AIDs Justice For All programme was discussed, Prime Minister Gonsalves said “We must not seek to transform the fight against HIV and AIDs into an agenda for gay rights…I made the point that there is a legitimate discussion to be had, a mature discussion to be had in the Caribbean and anywhere else on gay rights and I have said, in my view, the churches, the NGOs, the press, there are a number of entities that are well-placed to fuel and have that mature conversation…But we must not allow the fact that a lot of funding for PANCAP, which comes out of certain agencies in Europe and the United States, to be manipulated to advance a gay right agenda as distinct from fighting the issue of HIV and AIDs.’

In February, the Caribbean Alliance for Equality wrote to the Prime Minister asking him what his position is on decriminalising homosexuality, and what documented steps he or his administration have taken to remove the laws which criminalise consensual same-sex sexual activity.

2013

In September, the Prime Minister stated that it was not for politicians to raise the issue of decriminalisation: “Now this is not a matter on which a politician should be pronouncing upfront, given the nature of this social issue, but for civic leaders to talk about, for newspapers to write and talk about and for them to raise it.”

Now this is not a matter on which a politician should be pronouncing upfront, given the nature of this social issue, but for civic leaders to talk about, for newspapers to write and talk about and for them to raise it.

Ralph Gonsalves, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister

Persecution and Discrimination

2017

The US Department of State Human Rights Report 2017 states that: “Anecdotal evidence suggested there was societal discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons, although local observers believed such attitudes of intolerance were slowly improving.”

Due to a lack of dedicated LGBT organisations operating in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, reports of persecution and discrimination are minimal.

2013

The report of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada contains statements made by the Chairman of the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines chapter of Caribbean HIV/AIDS Partnership, who spoke on the issue of violence in the country: “[I]ncidences [sic] of violence due to homosexuality since 2010 are relatively low, mainly result in minor injuries, and tend to be related to personal disputes rather than random violence.”

Legislative News

2016

In its second UPR cycle, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines noted the recommendations that it received concerning decriminalisation of consensual same-sex activities between adults and the need to protect and prohibit discrimination against LGBT persons.

2014

In June, the country noted it could not join the consensus on the approval of an OAS resolution on sexual orientation, finding that: “Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is of the view that the term ‘gender expression’ is one that is not thoroughly defined internationally or that has international acceptance.”

2011

In its first UPR cycle, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines rejected recommendations to decriminalise consensual same-sex sexual relations: “The Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines cannot accept at this time this recommendation to repeal provisions against lesbian and gays, as the public sentiment favours the retention of provisions which criminalize buggary and sexual relations between adults of the same sex… Moreover, the Government wishes to inform that there are no discriminatory laws against gays, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender people in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines as the constitution prohibits discrimination in all forms related to the enjoyment of people’s rights and freedoms. In addition, it must be noted that prosecution of public indecency is not limited to homosexual acts but also relates to heterosexual acts between consenting adults.”

Footnotes
1. Criminal Code 1990, S. 146 Buggery

“Any person who —

(a) commits buggery with any other person;

(c) permits any person to commit buggery with him or her;

is guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for ten years.” Full text.

2. Criminal Code 1990, S. 148 Gross Indecency

“Any person, who in public or private, commits an 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.” Full text.

Keep in Touch

Sign up to our newsletter for updates on key legal challenges to anti-LGBT laws around the world, news on the reform of discriminatory laws in the Commonwealth, comment from our Director on landmark judgments and employment opportunities at the Trust.

SIGN UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER