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News > World

Barbados: LGBT Activists to Fight Buggery Laws at IACHR

  • Alexa Hoffman (right), a transgender woman, was the only plaintive who reveal her identity.

    Alexa Hoffman (right), a transgender woman, was the only plaintive who reveal her identity. | Photo: Facebook

Published 5 June 2018

Three LGBT activists from Barbados will petition against Barbados' buggery laws at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Barbados' “onerous” laws criminalizing intimacy between consenting partners of the same sex are being challenged by three citizens who are members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community. A transgender woman, along with a lesbian and gay man, will put forth a petition before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, according to the Nation News.

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Trinidadian Westmin James, deputy dean, Faculty of Law, Cave Hill; Maurice Tomlinson, senior policy analyst, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, a Jamaican, and Yvonne Chisolm, pro-bono litigation counsel, will also be joining the petition when it goes the human rights body.

Alexa Hoffman, a transgender woman, was the only plaintive who wanted to reveal her identity. She said that despite Barbados being a signatory to the international conventions, including the American Convention on Human Rights, the Caribbean nation had maintained buggery laws on the books and they “have no place” in a modern society.

One of the laws includes the Constitution's ninth section, which addresses buggery in direct terms. Meanwhile, article 12 is related to serious indecency.

Hoffman went into detail about the latter section, saying that it was in relation to “any act which involves the use of genital organs for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire.” She said the terminology was used to target lesbians specifically for its stated purpose was not gender neutral.

Hoffman went on to say that the ninth section, while it did not explicitly spell out buggery, the law has been applied in courts to target gay men. She said it had been used to target men who have sexual relations with children, further exacerbating the misguided link between pedophiles and gay people.

Last month, Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May said she “deeply regrets” Britain's historical legacy of colonialism which imposed anti-gay laws throughout the Commonwealth.

Last year, the United Kingdom marked the 50th anniversary of the passing of the Sexual Offences Act 1967, which decriminalized private sexual behavior between men over 21 in England and Wales. The law erased the centuries-old Buggery Act, allowing the UK to proudly proclaiming its so-called progressive stance on the LGBT rights to the rest of the world.

Originally instituted in 1533, during the reign of King Henry VIII, to make homosexual sex a crime punishable by death, the British empire transferred its antiquated law to its colonies in different parts of the world. Many of its former colonies continue to be shackled with anti-LGBT laws which were passed on to them as a kind of heirloom.

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