“LGBT taking aim at buggery laws”

alexa-hoffman

Three Barbadians from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) community will be challenging two of Barbados’ “onerous” laws which they say criminalise intimacy between consenting partners.

A transgender woman, a lesbian and a gay man will be making a petition before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

While both the gay man and lesbian preferred to remain anonymous, Alexa Hoffmann, a 24-year-old transgender woman, told the DAILY NATION that although Barbados was a signatory to international conventions, including the American Convention on Human Rights, these laws remained on the books and nothing was being done about them.

Hoffmann said there were two areas being challenged. One was Section 9 of the Constitution which dealt with buggery and the other, Section 12, relating to serious indecency.

She said the latter spoke to “any act which involves the use of genital organs for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire”, but was not gender neutral and was used to target lesbians.

Hoffmann said while Section 9 did not have a specific definition of buggery, the way the law was applied in the courts, it usually targeted gay men, or men who have had inappropriate relationships with children, making an erroneous link between gays and paedophiles, causing confusion.

She said, however, that the buggery law could apply to two men or a man and a woman engaging in anal sex, and “under the legislation both are a crime”.

Hoffmann said these were acts between “consenting adults” but the laws, which were more than 200 years old, were “very archaic and very draconian” and “have no place on the books” in a modern society.

The launch will be held tomorrow at the moot courtroom, Faculty of Law, University of the West Indies  Cave Hill Campus.

Joining the petition will be 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.

Tomlinson has been active as an attorney or claimant in cases which challenge anti-gay laws across the Caribbean. (SAT)