Rights group supports move to decriminalize buggery

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.

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

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

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.

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