Bahamas: Situation of homosexuals, including societal attitudes and availability of state protection (2005-2007)
|Publisher||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa|
|Publication Date||17 January 2008|
|Citation / Document Symbol||BHS102705.E|
|Cite as||Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Bahamas: Situation of homosexuals, including societal attitudes and availability of state protection (2005-2007), 17 January 2008, BHS102705.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/47d6544325.html [accessed 18 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.|
In the Bahamas, the minimum age of consent for sexual activity between adults of the same sex is 18 years (for men as for women) but 16 years for heterosexual partners (AVERT n.d.). Section 16 of the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Act, 1991 criminalizes public same-sex activity between adults, and any sexual activity between an adult and a minor of the same sex, with a penalty of up to 20 years' imprisonment (Bahamas 31 Dec. 2000).
According to Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2006, there is no legislation in the Bahamas that addresses the human rights concerns of homosexuals (US 8 Mar. 2007, Sec. 5). However, the Rainbow Alliance of the Bahamas (RAB), a Nassau-based non-governmental organization (NGO) aimed at promoting the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Bahamians, indicates that "[h]omosexual relations between consenting adults" is legal (RAB n.d.).
In March 2006, the Constitutional Review Commission determined that "sexual orientation did not deserve protection against discrimination" (US 8 Mar. 2007, Sec. 5). Moreover, RAB notes that the Domestic Violence and Protection Orders Bill, passed in 2007, does not provide "any protection for GLBT [Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender] Bahamians" (RAB n.d.).
According to RAB and Country Reports 2006, there are reports of discrimination against homosexuals in both employment (RAB n.d.; US 8 Mar. 2007, Sec. 5) and housing (ibid.).
Country Reports 2006 notes that the Bahamian government "sponsored an anti-homosexual rally" (ibid.), though further or corroborating information on the nature of this rally could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
In February 2006, the Nassau Guardian reported on an incident involving a gay man who stated that, because of his sexual orientation, he was physically assaulted first by a security guard and then by police officers who intervened (24 Feb. 2006). The man was detained by police officers for several hours before being released without charges; police stated that the man had been detained for unspecified "'disorderly' behaviour" (Nassau Guardian 24 Feb. 2006). Country Reports 2006 corroborates the report and indicates that the man alleges that police physically and verbally abused him but did not take any action against the security guard (ibid.).
The Nassau Guardian reported in September 2006 on allegations that a small number of Bahamian pastors have been performing unofficial gay marriage ceremonies even though they cannot issue legitimate marriage licenses since gay marriage remains illegal in the Bahamas (22 Sept. 2006).
In October 2007, the Nassau Guardian reported on a police raid against three clubs and one party where homosexuals had gathered (Nassau Guardian 10 Oct. 2007), including Genesis and Casbar clubs, which were shut down by two a.m. (ibid. 9 Oct. 2007). A member of RAB was quoted as saying that police entered the Hard Rock Café, which was hosting an event for the 8th Annual Black Gay and Lesbian Pride Cruise, with video cameras and detained a female dancer who was wearing a "flesh toned" bikini (ibid.). A chief superintendent of the police stated that the Department of Immigration raided the Hard Rock Café because of questions over the status of some of the revellers (ibid.).
Also in October 2007, members of the Bahamas Christian Council (BCC) reportedly created a lobby committee to counter RAB's support for a gay-themed television channel in the islands (ibid. 3 Oct. 2007).
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 additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
AVERT [Horsham, UK]. N.d. "Age of Consent Around the World."
Bahamas. 31 December 2000. "Chapter 99 – Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence." Statute Law of the Bahamas.
The Nassau Guardian. 10 October 2007. Krystel Rolle. "Local Gay Group to Meet with Police."
_____. 9 October 2007. Krystel Rolle. "Partygoers Express Outrage over Recent Police Raids of Gay Party."
_____. 3 October 2007. Tamara McKenzie. "Verbal Attack on Gays Continues."
_____. 22 September 2006. "Gay Marriages Exposed."
_____. 24 February 2006. Mindell Small. "Gay Man Says Cops Beat Him."
The Rainbow Alliance of the Bahamas (RAB). N.d. "The Rainbow Alliance of the Bahamas."
United States (US). 8 March 2007. Department of State. "Bahamas." Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2006.
Additional Sources Consulted
Internet sites, including: Amnesty International (AI), British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Gay.com, Globalgayz, Human Rights Watch (HRW), International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA), Legislationline, Pink News, Sodomy Laws, World News Connection (WNC).