Saint Lucia: Situation of homosexuals; availability of support groups and state protection (2006-2009)
|Publisher||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa|
|Publication Date||11 June 2009|
|Citation / Document Symbol||LCA103180.E|
|Cite as||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Saint Lucia: Situation of homosexuals; availability of support groups and state protection (2006-2009), 11 June 2009, LCA103180.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4a7040b4a.html [accessed 23 July 2014]|
The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) indicates that homosexual acts are illegal in Saint Lucia (ILGA May 2009, 35; see also GlobalGayz n.d.; Canada 1 June 2009, Sec. 8). According to Section 133 of Saint Lucia's Criminal Code, No. 9 of 2004 (Effective 1 January 2005):
1) A person who commits buggery commits an offence and is liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for -
a) life, if committed with force and without the consent of the other person
b) ten years, in any other case.
2) Any person who attempts to commit buggery, or commits an assault with intent to commit buggery, commits an offence and is liable to imprisonment for five years.
3) In this section "buggery" means sexual intercourse per anus by a male person with another male person. (ILGA May 2009, 35; Saint Lucia 2004, Sec. 133)
Although there is no law specifically forbidding homosexual acts between two women (United and Strong Mar. 2009), Section 132 of the Criminal Code, regarding "Gross Indecency" states that "[a]ny person who commits an act of gross indecency with another person commits an offence and is liable on conviction on indictment to imprisonment for ten years or on summary conviction for five years" (ILGA May 2009, 35). Gross indecency is defined as "an act other than sexual intercourse (whether natural or unnatural) by a person involving the use of the genital organs for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire" (ibid.). However, the Criminal Code states that this law does not apply when "committed in private between an adult male person and an adult female person, both of whom consent" (ibid.). In a telephone interview with the Research Directorate, a board member of the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities (CVC), a coalition of community leaders and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) which provides services for groups vulnerable to HIV infection (CVC n.d.), stated that as of June 2009 these laws are still in effect (CVC 10 June 2009). According to the CVC Board Member, the laws are enforced, although not always prosecuted (ibid.). This information could not be corroborated among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2008 reports that there is "widespread social discrimination" against homosexuals in Saint Lucia and "few openly gay people" (US 25 Feb. 2009, Sec. 5). CVC similarly reports that many Saint Lucian people "openly display acts of hostility towards and discriminate against perceived and actual homosexuals" (CVC Mar. 2009, Sec. 4.3). In March 2006, a senior official of the Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action (CAFRA) stated that there is "'a significant amount of discrimination which is driving activities of gay men underground'" in Saint Lucia (Caribbean Media Corporation 29 Mar. 2006). The CVC Board Member also stated that many homosexuals are "underground" and "not open" about being gay (CVC 10 June 2009). According to the CVC Board Member, Saint Lucian society rejects homosexuals and they sometimes face abuse, threats, violence and job loss for being homosexual (ibid.). United and Strong, a national organization representing Saint Lucian lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender people, similarly reports that the Saint Lucian homosexual community faces "a daily reality of fear, stigma, discrimination and persecution" and threats of verbal abuse, assault, sexual assault and "even death" (United and Strong Mar. 2009).
The Caribbean Media Corporation and United and Strong reported on the "violent death" of a gay man in Saint Lucia in 2006 and indicated that in 2005 another gay person was found dead at the bottom of a precipice (Caribbean Media Corporation 29 Mar. 2006; United and Strong Mar. 2009). In the article published by Caribbean Media Corporation, the senior official of CAFRA reportedly stated that the death was a signal that the gay community was "under attack" and that "hate crimes" were increasing in Saint Lucia (29 Mar. 2006). According to United and Strong, the victim in 2006 was "gagged and bound to a tree" (United and Strong Mar. 2009). Country Reports 2008 reports that there were at least two cases of violence against homosexuals in Saint Lucia, including a case where an openly gay man was hung from a tree (US 25 Feb. 2009, Sec. 5). Freedom House similarly reports that homosexuals in Saint Lucia are "occasionally targeted in hate crimes" (Freedom House 2008).
Information about police protection for homosexuals in Saint Lucia was scarce among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. According to United and Strong, police do not always investigate complaints of homophobic violence and many homosexual victims face "ridicule" at the police station (United and Strong Mar. 2009). The CVC Board Member similarly stated that homosexuals were reluctant to approach police officers for protection of their rights (CVC 10 June 2009). United and Strong and the CVC Board Member both reported that no one was convicted for the murders of the two gay men in 2005 and 2006 (ibid.; United and Strong Mar. 2009).
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.
Canada. 1 June 2009. "Travel Report: Saint Lucia."
Caribbean Media Corporation. 29 March 2006. "Gays in St. Lucia Urged to Mobilize Following Murder." (BBC Monitoring Americas/Factiva)
Caribbean Vulnerable Communities (CVC). 10 June 2009. Telephone interview with board member.
_____. March 2009. Tenesha Myrie. "Considerations for Reform of the Constitution of Saint Lucia." (Sent as correspondence to Research Directorate from CVC board member)
_____. N.d. "About CVC."
Freedom House. 2008. "Saint Lucia." Freedom in the World (2008).
GlobalGayz. N.d. "Saint Lucia: Gay Travel, Life and Culture. Photo Galleries, Stories, Links, News and Reports."
International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA). May 2009. Daniel Ottosson. State-Sponsored Homophobia: A World Survey of Laws Prohibiting Same Sex Activity Between Consenting Adults.
Saint Lucia. 2004. Criminal Code. (Sent as correspondence to Research Directorate from Attorney General's Chambers of Saint Lucia)
United and Strong. March 2009. "Fundamental Rights and Freedoms: Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Human Rights." (Sent as correspondence to Research Directorate from CVC board member)
United States (US). 25 February 2009. Department of State. "Saint Lucia." Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2008.
Additional Sources Consulted
Oral Sources: Attempts to reach representatives of the Attorney General's Office of St. Lucia were unsuccessful within time constraints.
Internet sources, including: Amnesty International (AI), Caribbean Net News, European Country of Origin Information Network (ecoi.net), Human Rights Watch (HRW), International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), Office of the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Refworld, Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), Resource Center of the Americas, Saint Lucia Government, Sodomy Laws.