In August 2022, the High Court of Saint Kitts & Nevis struck down discriminatory criminal laws that targeted lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.
Consensual sexual activity between men was prohibited under section 56 the Offences Against the Person Act 1986, which criminalised acts of ‘buggery’, referring to it as ‘the abominable crime’. Attempts to commit the ‘infamous crime’ were also criminalised, under section 57 of the Act. The laws carried a maximum penalty of ten years’ imprisonment with or without hard labour. The law was imposed on the Caribbean country by the British during the colonial period.
The High Court held that the criminal provisions were unconstitutional, as they contravened the fundamental rights to personal privacy and freedom of expression. It found that “[t]o the extent that [the Act] criminalises the private lives of gay persons in this way, the law is excessive and arbitrary.”
The Court also declared that the offences were “null and void” to the extent that they criminalised consensual sexual acts between adults in private.
The case was filed by Jamal Jeffers and local organisation Saint Kitts and Nevis Alliance for Equality (SKNAFE). Regional LGBT umbrella organisation, the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality has convened the process since 2015.