On Friday, July 26, 2019 two gay men filed court proceedings to challenge St Vincent and the Grenadines’ “buggery” and “gross indecency” laws, which criminalise homosexuality.
Both men, who have been advised by Jeremy Johnson QC and Peter Laverack of 5 Essex Court, asserting that their dignity and autonomy are stripped by these laws. They have filed claims with Affidavits stating that they have been exiled from the Caribbean nation due to the severely draconian and damaging effects of these laws.
The challenges were filed by local lawyers, Zita Barnwell and Jomo Thomas, listing English barristers Jeremy Johnson QC and Peter Laverack of 5 Essex Court, London, as the intended trial advocates. Five (5) Essex Court was instructed by a team at Hogan Lovells, which includes Charles Brasted, partner, Tom Smith, senior associate, and Iris Karaman, trainee solicitor.”
The two challenges are expected to be heard together in the High Court in Kingstown. The British Privy Council may have ultimate say on these colonial-era laws, as St Vincent and the Grenadines still sends its appeals to the old imperial court in London.
Javin Johnson, aged 22, successfully claimed asylum in the United Kingdom in 2017 having established that he could not live as a gay man in St Vincent and the Grenadines. Sean Macleish, aged 53, is a Vincentian resident in Chicago, Illinois. Macleish has publicly advocated the Caribbean nation’s prime minister for the removal of these laws so that he may return home with his partner but to no effect.