Last Updated: Friday, 28 November 2014, 14:01 GMT

Barbados: Treatment of homosexuals, including protection offered by the state and the attitude of the population

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa
Publication Date 9 March 2007
Citation / Document Symbol BRB102422.FE
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Barbados: Treatment of homosexuals, including protection offered by the state and the attitude of the population, 9 March 2007, BRB102422.FE, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/469cd6a52.html [accessed 28 November 2014]
DisclaimerThis 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.

According to two international non-governmental organizations, sexual relations between members of the same sex are prohibited and are punished by imprisonment (AI July 2006; ILGA Nov. 2006, 3). Article 9 of the Sexual Offences Act of 1992 states that a person who commits "buggery" is liable to imprisonment for life (Barbados 13 Feb. 1992; World Policy Institute Dec. 2003, 74; Ottosson 2006, 3). Article 12 of the Sexual Offences Act sets out that a person who commits an "act of serious indecency" or who incites another person to commit such an act is liable to imprisonment for 10 years if both parties are at least 16 years of age (Barbados 13 Feb. 1992, Art. 12; Ottosson 2006, 3; World Policy Institute Dec. 2003, 74). If a minor aged 15 or under is involved, the term of imprisonment is 15 years (ibid.; Ottosson 2006, 3; Barbados 13 Feb. 1992, Art. 12). Serious indecency is defined as "an act, whether natural or unnatural by a person involving the use of the genital organs for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire" (ibid., Art. 12; World Policy Institute Dec. 2003, 74). According to a report published in 2006 on the Web site of the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA), Article 12 of the Sexual Offences Act of 1992 also applies to relations between lesbians (Ottosson 2006, 3).

However, an Amnesty International (AI) report indicates that the penalties presented in the articles concerning sexual relations between members of the same sex are rarely enforced when these sexual practices take place in private (July 2006). According to a paper published by the International Working Group on Gender, Macroeconomics, and International Economics (GEM-IWG) on the University of Utah's Web site, the Attorney General and Deputy Prime Minister of the Barbados suggested in October 2003 that homosexuality be decriminalized (Nov. 2006, 17; see also AI July 2006). The paper also states that the media, the church, and society in general reacted negatively to the suggestion and that the government has not proposed any new legislation (GEM-IWG Nov. 2006, 17; see also Caribbean Net News 17 March 2005). Additional information on the Barbadian government's proposal to decriminalize homosexuality or on the enforcement of Articles 9 and 12 of the Sexual Offences Act of 1992 could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

A report published by the United Nations Joint Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that, in general, homophobia is widespread in nearly all Caribbean countries and that homosexuals in these countries are stigmatized (UN Dec. 2005, 53). More specifically, with respect to the treatment of homosexuals in Barbados, a World Policy Institute report states that, despite government attempts to foster greater tolerance toward homosexuals, the law criminalizing homosexual acts "perpetuates the societal stigma" associated with sexual relations between same-sex partners (Dec. 2003, 74). According to Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2005, Barbadian society discriminates against homosexuals (US 8 Mar. 2006, Sec. 5). In addition, according to a representative of the Barbados Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (BANGO), which provides a range of services to civil society organizations (BANGO June 2006), there is no centre for assistance to gay victims of violence (26 Jan. 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.

References

Amnesty International (AI). July 2006. AI Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Network. "Sexual Minorities and the Law: A World Survey." [Accessed 2 Feb. 2007]

Barbados. 13 February 1992. Sexual Offences Act. (Caribbean Community Secretariat) [Accessed 2 Feb. 2007]

Barbados Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (BANGO). 26 January 2007. Correspondence from a representative.
_____ . June 2006. "Background of BANGO – Profile." [Accessed 2 Feb. 2007]

Caribbean Net News [Cayman Islands]. 17 March 2005. "Church to Present Barbados Government with Alternative Plan to Combat HIV/AIDS." [Accessed 2 Feb. 2007]

International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA). November 2006. Daniel Ottosson. "LGBT World Legal Wrap Up Survey." [Accessed 2 Feb. 2007]

International Working Group on Gender, Macroeconomics, and International Economics (GEM-IWG). November 2006. Unsettling Masculinity in the Caribbean: Facing a Future Without Guarantees. (University of Utah) [Accessed 2 Feb. 2007]

Ottosson, Daniel. 2006. "Legal Survey on the Countries in the World Having Legal Prohibitions on Sexual Activities Between Consenting Adults in Private." (International Lesbian and Gay Association) [Accessed 2 Feb. 2007]

United Nations (UN). December 2005. Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organization (WHO). "Caribbean." AIDS Epidemic Update.

United States Department of State. 8 March 2006. "Barbados." Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2005. [Accessed 2 Feb. 2007]

World Policy Institute. December 2003. Andrew Reding. Sexual Orientation and Human Rights in the Americas. [Accessed 2 Feb. 2007]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral source: United Gays and Lesbians Against AIDS Barbados (UGLAAB) did not respond to a request for information within time constraints.

Internet sites, including: Act Up-Paris, Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), Freedom House, Human Rights Watch (HRW), International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), Organization of American States (OAS).

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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