Barbados: Govt given three months to answer challenge to anti-same sex laws

The western hemisphere’s human rights tribunal has given Barbados three months to answer a petition to have its laws against same-sex intimacy struck down.

The challenge to the laws, filed by a trans woman, Alexa Hoffmann, and two other Barbadians, a lesbian and a gay man, has been reviewed by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in the last year.

The IACHR sent the Government a copy of the petition challenging sections 9 and 12 of the Sexual Offences Act. These sections effectively criminalize all forms of same-sex intimacy and the Mia Mottley administration now has three months to respond to the petition.

Section 9 outlaws “buggery”, which the courts have defined as anal sex between men but also between a man and a woman. The maximum penalty is life in prison.

Under Section 12, “serious indecency” is sweepingly defined as any act “involving the use of the genital organs for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire.” The maximum penalty is ten years in prison if the act is committed on or towards a person aged 16 or older.

The commission can issue a recommendation to the Government of Barbados to repeal the laws and if the State refuses, it can refer the matter to the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which can issue a binding decision mandating that Barbados repeal the laws. Read more via Barbados Today