Rights group sup­ports move to de­crim­i­nal­ize bug­gery

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT -

The Eastern Caribbean Al­liance for Di­ver­sity and Equal­ity (ECADE) has pledged its sup­port to An­tigua and Bar­buda’s Min­is­ter of So­cial Trans­for­ma­tion, Sa­man­tha Mar­shall who says she will rec­om­mend to Cabi­net that bug­gery be taken off the statute books.

Sec­tion 12 of the Sex­ual Of­fences Act 1995 makes bug­gery an of­fence which is pun­ish­able by im­pris­on­ment for up to 15 years.

Mar­shall called for the re­moval of that part of the leg­is­la­tion on the ba­sis that it is “an­ti­quated”, shortly af­ter the twin-is­land na­tion’s hu­man rights record was ex­am­ined at the UN Hu­man Rights Coun­cil’s Universal Pe­ri­odic Re­view (UPR).

“Min­is­ter Mar­shall has made a valid point through the lens of hu­man rights on the grounds of dis­crim­i­na­tion, in­di­cat­ing her aware­ness that it helps fuel high lev­els of stigma and vi­o­la­tions. Sen­a­tor Payne rec­og­nized that the gov­ern­ment can­not do this just through leg­isla­tive change but through sen­si­ti­za­tion of cit­i­zens,” ECADE di­rec­tor Kenita Placide said in a state­ment.

She fur­ther called on Par­lia­ment Sec­re­tary of the Min­istry of Le­gal Af­fairs and Pub­lic Safety Sen­a­tor Mau­reen Payne – who told the work­ing group at the UPR that the law is not used to pros­e­cute in­di­vid­u­als for en­gag­ing in con­sen­sual bug­gery – to sup­port Mar­shall, as a fol­low-through to her in­ter­ven­tion on be­half of An­tigua and Bar­buda dur­ing the re­view.

“In rec­og­niz­ing that this law was in­her­ited, and un­der­stand­ing the needs of the com­mu­nity, we call on Sen­a­tor Payne to hon­our her words that, ‘if we are go­ing to be more se­ri­ous in hu­man rights, that is some­thing the gov­ern­ment will need to look at’,” Placide added.

She said ECADE, which pro­vides an em­pow­er­ing en­vi­ron­ment to in­crease skills and ca­pac­ity for ad­vance­ment of Les­bian, Gay, Bi­sex­ual, Trans­gen­der, Ques­tion­ing, and In­ter­sex (LGBTQI) and marginalised pop­u­la­tions, fur­ther pledged its com­mit­ment to ed­u­cate and sen­si­tive so­ci­ety at large on the is­sue.

In May of this year min­is­ters of gov­ern­ment in Saint Lu­cia were urged by the LGBTI ad­vo­cacy group United and Strong to im­i­tate An­tigua. Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Of­fi­cer of United and Strong Ben­net Charles said then that he wel­comed Mar­shall com­ments on the Bug­gery Law in An­tigua. “I would re­ally like to see our min­is­ters, not only our Min­is­ter of So­cial Trans­for­ma­tion, take a page from this So­cial Trans­for­ma­tion Min­is­ter’s book,” Charles said.

ECADE di­rec­tor Kenita Placide says the or­ga­ni­za­tion is back­ing Min­is­ter of So­cial Trans­for­ma­tion Sa­man­tha Mar­shall.

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