Saint Lucia: Situation and treatment of bisexuals, including social attitudes; availability of state protection
|Publisher||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Publication Date||28 October 2011|
|Citation / Document Symbol||LCA103854.E|
|Related Document||Sainte-Lucie : information sur la situation des personnes bisexuelles et le traitement qui leur est réservé, y compris l'attitude de la société et la protection offerte par l'État|
|Cite as||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Saint Lucia: Situation and treatment of bisexuals, including social attitudes; availability of state protection, 28 October 2011, LCA103854.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4ecdeb842.html [accessed 22 May 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Saint Lucia was described as a "heteronormative and patriarchal" society that is "deeply rooted in conservative cultural and religious values" by a senior policy consultant with over seven years' experience in conducting legal and policy research and in writing on human rights issues in the Caribbean and Canada (6 Oct. 2011). In a national report to the United Nation's (UN) Human Rights Council, St. Lucia acknowledges that "deeply rooted religious, cultural and moral values and practices on the island create a formidable challenge towards mobilization and general acceptance of 'gay rights'" (St. Lucia 12 Nov. 2010, para. 123, emphasis in original). As part of the UN's universal periodic review (UPR) of the human rights situation in St. Lucia, the United States (US) notes that there is "pervasive societal discrimination against LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender] persons" in the country (UN 11 Mar. 2011, para. 63). The policy consultant also indicated in his telephone interview with the Research Directorate that there are "elements of homophobia" among elected officials and within the police force and government bureaucracy (6 Oct. 2011).
The policy consultant added that individuals who "transgress the social norms," such as LGBT persons, are subject to "abuse and violence" (6 Oct. 2011). He further explained that if someone is perceived to be an LGBT person, that person becomes the "target of abuse" (Senior Policy Consultant 6 Oct. 2011). Such a perception can be influenced by the way the person dresses, talks, or acts; for example, a man who is seen as "effeminate" or a woman as "butch" can become a target (ibid.). Also, LGBT persons "face the daily threat of being found out by their families, friends and communities," which can result in "violence and abuse, discrimination, verbal abuse, sexual assault, death and persecution" (ibid.). In its Freedom in the World 2010 report, Freedom House notes that "[h]omosexuals are occasionally targeted in hate crimes" (2010). The policy consultant also reasoned that because heterosexuals "do not want to be identified as LGBT," they "become very homophobic" in their actions and language (ibid.).
The Co-Executive Director of United and Strong Inc. (USI), "an organization that advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in St. Lucia" (USI 31 Mar. 2011), told the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) that "lesbians face the same stigma and discrimination as their male counterparts," (ILGA 3 June 2011). The Co-Executive Director further noted that "[w]omen who don't adhere to gender stereotypes or who simply love other women risk losing their jobs and face harassment" (ibid.).
In St. Lucia, according to the policy consultant, "bisexuals are not treated differently from homosexuals or those that are perceived to be homosexuals" (6 Oct. 2011). He said that this is because someone who is being abusive does not distinguish between sexual identities (Senior Policy Consultant 6 Oct. 2011). The policy consultant further explained that "[e]ven if a person identifies themselves as bisexual, the daily reality is that that person is still faced with homophobia from the dominant society and also faces exclusion from mainstream queer communities" (ibid.).
He also added that
bisexuals might be perceived to live double lives when they have heterosexual type families and [are] able to 'fit' into mainstream society. This is a 'myth.' They still become the victims of abuse or violence; ultimately, they transgress social norms and are labelled as 'deviant' and [are subject] to the same treatment. (ibid.)
Corroborating information on the treatment of bisexuals could not be found within the time constraints of this Response.
Legislation regarding same-sex sexual activity
The US Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2010 notes that in St. Lucia "[h]omosexual acts for both sexes are illegal under indecency statutes" that provide a maximum prison sentence of five years (8 Apr. 2011, Sec. 6). The US report also indicates that "some male homosexual acts are also illegal under anal intercourse laws," which carry a maximum prison sentence of ten years (ibid.).
The policy consultant explained that because same-sex acts are illegal, people "believe that same-sex couples are illegal," which perpetuates "homophobia in the society" (6 Oct. 2011). Similarly, when providing its comments to the UN's UPR on St. Lucia, the US pointed out that "the criminalization of homosexual conduct exacerbates homophobic attitudes in the general population and prevents LGBT persons from taking advantage of opportunities afforded to other St. Lucians" (UN 11 Mar. 2011, para. 63). As a result, Spain, France, Canada, Slovenia and the US recommended that St. Lucia decriminalize same-sex activity between consenting adults (ibid., para. 89.92-89.96). However, St. Lucia maintained that it "cannot accept these recommendations at this time, due to contrary legislative provisions, and deeply entrenched societal mores and values which are still to be overcome" (St. Lucia 1 June 2011, para. 89.92).
In a UN report summarizing the viewpoints of three stakeholders on the human rights situation in St. Lucia, the USI notes that
the law clearly states that for the purposes of prosecution, gross indecency will not apply to private acts between a consenting male and female adult. As a result, the law criminalizes private acts between male consenting adults. (UN 10 Nov. 2010, para. 11)
The advocacy group adds that "buggery specifically criminalizes male homosexual conduct" and states that "the social effect of these two laws strengthens social stigma and discrimination against homosexuals" (ibid.).
In response to the US recommendation that St. Lucia "condemn" human rights violations and acts of violence against persons based on their sexual orientation, as well as provide "adequate" protection to LGBT activists (UN 11 Mar. 2011, para. 89.97), St. Lucia indicated that it accepted the recommendation and pointed out that the government already condemns all "forms of violence" against "all persons" (St. Lucia 1 June 2011, para. 89.97). It also said that there are no "known cases" of violence against human rights defenders in St. Lucia (ibid.).
The policy consultant indicated that LGBT individuals who wish to report a crime that is unrelated to LGBT issues believe the police will perceive them as criminals because of the laws in place (Senior Policy Consultant 6 Oct. 2011). He also said that LGBT persons who do report abuse to the police end up being ridiculed and their case is treated as "insignificant" or "not important" (ibid.). As a result of such "police homophobia," "a lot" of LGBT cases remain unsolved (ibid.). The way to get "any help" is to have "social or political connections" (ibid.). However, the policy consultant also noted that although "being socially and economically privileged in St. Lucia moves some LGBT people away from abuse and violence," even privileged LGBT persons are not exempt in certain situations form being targets or victims because of their sexual orientation (ibid.).
St. Lucia was the only country in the Caribbean community to vote "no" in the UN General Assembly vote in December 2010 to re-include "sexual orientation" in the resolution condemning extra-judicial executions (ILGA 3 June 2011; USI et al. 6 Jan. 2011).
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Freedom House. 2010. "Saint Lucia." Freedom in the World 2010.
International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA). 3 June 2011. Patricia Curzi. "The Universal Periodic Review as a New UN Human Rights Tool for LGBTI Rights: Saint Lucia."
Saint Lucia. 1 June 2011. Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Saint Lucia. Addendum: Views on Conclusions and/or Recommendations, Voluntary Commitments and Replies Presented by the State Under Review. (A/HRC/17/6/Add.1)
_____. 12 November 2010. National Report Submitted in Accordance with Paragraph 15(a) of the Annex to Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1: Saint Lucia. (A/HRC/WG.6/10/LCA/1)
Senior Policy Consultant. 6 October 2011. Telephone interview with the Research Directorate.
United and Strong Inc. (USI). 31 March 2011. "Putting an End to Discrimination." Published in The Voice.
United and Strong Inc. (USI), Marcus Day, Kenita Placide, Ashily Dior, Brendon O'Brien, Vidyaratha Kissoon, Nigel Mathlin, Caleb Orozco, Daryl Phillip, Victor Rollins, and Maurice Tomlinson. 6 January 2011. "Stand Up for Human Rights." Published in The Voice.
United Nations. 11 March 2011. Human Rights Council. Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Saint Lucia. (A/HCR/17/6)
_____. 10 November 2010. Summary Prepared by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Accordance with Paragraph 15 (c) of the Annex to Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1: Saint Lucia. (A/HRC/WG.6/10/LCA/3)
United States (US). 8 April 2011. "Saint Lucia." Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2010.
Additional Sources Consulted
Oral sources: Representatives of Caribbean Vulnerable Communities and the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission were unable to provide information for this Response. Attempts to contact representatives of ARC International, the Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action, St. Lucia's ministries of Education and Culture and of Health and Labour Relations, as well as a professor at the University of Toronto, were unsuccessful. The advocacy group United and Strong Inc. was unable to provide information within the time constraints of this Response.
Internet sites, including: Ameco Press; Amnesty International; ARC International; Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action; Caribbean Media Corporation; Caribbean News.Net; Enkidu; European Country of Origin Information Network; Factiva; Institute for Gender and Development Studies (University of the West Indies); Inter Press Service; Milenio; Periodismohumano.com; PlanetOut.com; Saint Lucia - Government Information Service, Ministry of Education and Culture, Ministry of Health and Labour Relations; Slu One Stop; The Star; United Nations Integrated Regional Information Networks.