The colonial-era law banning same-sex relations in Saint Kitts and Nevis has been overturned in a “landmark” ruling for the Caribbean country.
On 29 August, the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court upheld a motion by Jamal Jeffers, a gay man who challenged sections 56 and 57 of the Offences Against the Persons Act, which criminalised acts of “buggery” and “unnatural offences”.
The court struck down two offending sections of the act, one of which reads: “Any person who is convicted of the abominable crime of buggery, committed either with mankind or with any animal, shall be liable to be imprisoned for a term not exceeding ten years, with or without hard labor.” In his judgement, Judge Trevor Ward said sections 56 and 57 are “not reasonably justified in a democratic society in circumstances where they proscribe sexual acts between consenting adults in private, which involve no element of public conduct or harm to, or sexual acts, with minors. “To the extent that it criminalises the private lives of gay persons in this year, the law is excessive and arbitrary.” Ward added: “Section 56 of the act shall be read as if the words ‘This section shall not apply to consensual sexual acts between adults in private’ were added at the end of the section.” Luisa Cabal, UNAIDS Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, praised the “landmark ruling” and hailed it as an “important step forward in ensuring equality and dignity for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community in St.
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