Barbados High Court strikes down ‘buggery’ and ‘indecency’ laws

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In a decision that echoed loudly around the Caribbean, in late 2022 the High Court of Barbados struck down discriminatory laws that targeted lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. Sections 9 and 12 of the Barbados Sexual Offences Act, also known as the “buggery” and “indecency” laws, were remnants of the British colonial era and criminalised consensual same-sex intimacy.

Under Section 9, punishment for breaking the law could be as severe as life imprisonment for men who engaged in same-sex sexual activity. Under Section 12, both men and women were criminalised and liable to imprisonment of up to 10 years. Barbados was one of the few remaining criminalising countries in the Western Hemisphere.

The case was filed by two Barbadian LGBT advocates, René Holder-McClean-Ramirez and Raven Gill, with local organisation Equals joining the case by filing as community support, and regional LGBT umbrella organisation, the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality, convening the process. The Human Dignity Trust provided technical support to the legal case since 2015.

Watch Raven and René talk about what the win means for them, and for all LGBT Bajans.