On 29 August 2022, the High Court of Saint Kitts and Nevis ruled that Sections 56 and 57 of the Offences Against the Person Act were unconstitutional.
The case was filed by Jamal Jeffers and local organisation Saint Kitts and Nevis Alliance for Equality (SKNAFE). From 2015 the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality convened the process.
Under s56 of the Act, consensual sexual activity between men was prohibited, criminalising acts of ‘buggery’, referring to it as ‘the abominable crime’. Under s57 of the Act, attempts to commit the ‘infamous crime’ were also criminalised. The maximum penalty for these offences was 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 ruled that the criminal provisions were unconstitutional on the basis that they violated Articles 3 and 12 of the Constitution which guarantee the fundamental rights to personal privacy and freedom of expression. The Court 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.”
Significantly, the High Court also held that the offences were “null and void” to the extent that they criminalised consensual sexual acts between adults in private.