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Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: Situation and treatment of homosexuals, including legislation and societal attitudes; availability of state protection and support services (2010-February 2013)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Publication Date 11 March 2013
Citation / Document Symbol VCT104335.E
Related Document(s) Saint-Vincent-et-les Grenadines : information sur la situation des femmes et des hommes homosexuels et le traitement qui leur est réservé, y compris les lois et les attitudes sociétales; la protection offerte par l'État et l'existence de services de soutien (2010-février 2013)
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: Situation and treatment of homosexuals, including legislation and societal attitudes; availability of state protection and support services (2010-February 2013) , 11 March 2013, VCT104335.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/5188f6074.html [accessed 24 May 2017]
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.

1. Legislation

Sources indicate that homosexuality is illegal in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (Freedom House 2012; ILGA May 2012, 12). According to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association's (ILGA) survey of laws criminalizing same-sex relations, State-sponsored Homophobia, Sections 146 and 148 of the Criminal Code, 1990 edition, state:

Section 146

"Any person who -

commits buggery with any other person;

commits buggery with an animal; or

permits any person to commit buggery with him or her;

is guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for ten years."

Section 148

"Any person, who in public or private, commits an act of gross indecency with another person of the same sex, or procures or attempts to procure another person of the same sex to commit an act of gross indecency with him or her, is guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for five years." (ibid., 61)

ILGA also indicates that female-to-female sexual relations are not legal (ibid. n.d.a). According to the 11 July 2011 UN Human Rights Council Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review on St. Vincent and the Grenadines, "[e]xisting legislation against ... same-sex acts and buggery all enjoyed wide popular support in the State and there was no legislative support for repealing any of these provisions" (UN 11 July 2011, 7).

According to the US Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011,

[c]onsensual same-sex conduct is illegal under indecency statutes, and some same-sex sexual activity between men is also illegal under anal intercourse laws. Indecency statutes carry a maximum penalty of five years, and anal intercourse acts carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, although these laws were rarely enforced. (US 24 May 2012, 11)

In correspondence with the Research Directorate, the Chairman of the St. Vincent chapter of the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Partnership (Vincy CHAP), an LGBT support group that focuses on HIV education and prevention, indicated that

there was a big public scandal when two men were caught in a compromising position on a secluded beach by policemen on patrol, though they were arrested and taken to the police station, and subjected to much embarrassment, they were released without being charged. (27 Feb. 2013)

Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

Sources indicate that there are no laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (US 24 May 2012, 11; Vincy CHAP 27 Feb. 2013; CariFLAGS 5 May 2013).

2. Societal Attitudes

In a telephone interview with the Research Directorate, the Eastern Caribbean coordinator of the Caribbean Forum for Liberation and Acceptance of Genders and Sexuality (CariFLAGS) stated that the Eastern Caribbean region is "very religious" (ibid.). According to ILGA, CariFLAGS is a member organization of ILGA since 2010 and has been devoted to LGBTI rights since 1998 (n.d.b). The Chairman of Vincy CHAP similarly stated that St. Vincent is a Christian conservative community, and stated that homosexuality is "very much frowned upon" and "considered an 'abomination' by many" (27 Feb. 2013). Country Reports 2011 also describes St. Vincent and the Grenadines as a "deeply conservative society" (US 24 May 2012, 11). The Eastern Caribbean coordinator of CariFLAGS indicated that there is a large stigma attached to homosexuality (5 Mar. 2013).

Country Reports 2011 indicates that, according to local observers, "attitudes of intolerance [against LGBT persons] were slowly improving" (US 24 May 2012, 11). The CariFLAGS Eastern Caribbean coordinator similarly indicated that, due to increased dialogue about human rights and sexual rights in the Caribbean, the environment is becoming more tolerant of sexual minorities, but, at the same time, there is an "undercurrent of rage" against sexual minorities (5 Mar. 2013).

3. Treatment

The CariFLAGS Eastern Caribbean coordinator stated that the homosexual population is "very much underground" and that many people do not identify themselves as belonging to a sexual minority group (5 Mar. 2013). Country Reports 2011 similarly reports that "[m]embers of professional and business classes were more inclined to conceal their sexual orientation" (US 24 May 2012, 11). The CariFLAGS Eastern Caribbean coordinator stated that there is a "high level of fear" among homosexuals (5 Mar. 2013). The coordinator further indicated that there is also a "high level of bisexuality," as homosexuals try to hide their sexual orientation (CariFLAGS 5 Mar. 2013).

Sources report on discrimination against homosexuals in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (US 24 May 2011, 11; Vincy CHAP 27 Feb. 2013; CariFLAGS 5 Mar. 2013). The CariFLAGS Eastern Caribbean coordinator stated that discrimination against homosexuals includes eviction, refusal of housing and employment, and bullying at school (ibid.). The CariFLAGS Eastern Caribbean coordinator further stated that an individual who has contracted HIV faces "double stigma" (ibid.).

The Chairman of Vincy CHAP indicated that "incidences of violence due to homosexuality since 2010 are relatively low, mainly result in minor injuries, and tend to be related to personal disputes rather than random violence" (27 Feb. 2013). Without being able to specify a date, the CariFLAGS Eastern Caribbean coordinator stated that there have been cases of homosexuals being attacked and threatened in St. Vincent (5 Mar. 2013). The coordinator also stated that behaviour outside of typical male behaviour is attacked, both verbally and physically (CariFLAGS 5 Mar. 2013).

4. Police

According to the CariFLAGS Eastern Caribbean coordinator, many homosexuals do not report abuses against them to the police as they are afraid of being arrested or having their sexual orientation exposed (5 Mar. 2013). The CariFLAGS Eastern Caribbean coordinator added that because of the reluctance to report abuse to police the level of violence against homosexuals is not known (5 Mar. 2013).

The CariFLAGS Eastern Caribbean coordinator stated that the police may chastise an individual who admits to being a homosexual (5 Mar. 2013). According to the Vincy CHAP chairman, police treat homosexuals "contemptuously, and generally tend not to take their complaints seriously," especially if the complaints are related to minor disputes (27 Feb. 2013). The Vincy CHAP chairman stated that the treatment of homosexuals by police partly depends on the socio-economic status of victims, as people who are perceived to be from a higher socio-economic status are "more effective" in having complaints heard by the police (27 Feb. 2013). Speaking about the general treatment of homosexuals by society, the CariFLAGS Eastern Caribbean coordinator similarly stated that one's treatment depends on their socio-economic status, and that people with a higher socio-economic status may be treated "not as badly" as people with a lower socio-economic status (5 Mar. 2013).

5. Support Services

According to the Chairman of Vincy CHAP, "homosexuals generally tend to avoid most support groups due to concerns about confidentiality" (27 Feb. 2013). The CariFLAGS Eastern Caribbean coordinator similarly indicated that people are reluctant to attend gatherings organized by LGBT organizations, because they fear that they will be chastised if identified (5 Mar. 2013).

Sources indicated that not many support services exist for homosexuals (Vincy CHAP 27 Feb. 2013; CariFLAGS 5 Mar. 2013). The CariFLAGS Eastern Caribbean coordinator stated that many of the support services available are HIV support services (5 Mar. 2013). The Chairman of Vincy CHAP stated that the Caribbean HIV Aids Alliance (CHAA) office provides HIV education and support to homosexuals (Vincy CHAP 27 Feb. 2013), but does not provide any shelter or protection services as their mandate is HIV education (ibid. 28 Feb. 2013). The CHAA website similarly states that the organization's mission is to "reduce the impact of HIV and AIDS across the Caribbean (CHAA n.d.a)," and the St. Vincent and the Grenadines country office facilitates workshops on behaviour change communication, and helps other civil society organizations with capacity building and by providing small grants (ibid. n.d.b). The Chairman of Vincy CHAP said that Vincy CHAP is an educational support group that is not able to provide any other services (28 Feb. 2013). The CariFLAGS Eastern Caribbean coordinator stated that the one or two people who have been "courageous enough" to work with Vincy CHAP have left the country because of "stigma and discrimination" (5 Mar. 2013). The CariFLAGS Eastern Caribbean coordinator also stated that, if someone does not know the "right person," they probably will not know about the support groups and education offered by Vincy CHAP (5 Mar. 2013).

6. Safe Zones

The Chairman of Vincy CHAP stated in 27 February 2013 correspondence that "there are no public safe zones for homosexuals," although he also said that recently "a couple" of bars seem to be "relatively gay friendly." The CariFLAGS Eastern Caribbean coordinator indicated that St. Vincent and the Grenadines is very small and it takes only one or two hours to drive around the country, so there is "no safe space for homosexuals" to go (5 Mar. 2013).

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.

References

Caribbean Forum for Liberation and Acceptance of Genders and Sexuality (CariFLAGS). 5 March 2013. Telephone interview with the Eastern Caribbean coordinator.

Caribbean HIV and AIDS Alliance (CHAA). N.d.a. "Vision, Mission and Overview." [Accessed 6 Mar. 2013]

_____. N.d.b. "St. Vincent and the Grenadines Country Office." [Accessed 6 Mar. 2013]

Freedom House. 2012. "St. Vincent and Grenadines." Freedom in the World 2012. [Accessed 27 Feb. 2013]

International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Asociation (ILGA). May 2012. Lucas Paoli Itaborahy. State-Sponsored Homophobia. [Accessed 27 Feb. 2013]

_____. N.d.a. "Female to Female Relationships." [Accessed 27 Feb. 2013]

_____. N.d.b. "CariFLAGS Carribean Forum for Liberation and Acceptance of Genders and Sexualities." [Accessed 11 Mar. 2013]

United Nations (UN). 11 July 2011. Human Rights Council. "Saint Vincent and the Grenadines." Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. (A/HRC/18/15) [Accessed 4 Mar. 2013]

United States (US). 24 May 2012. Department of State. "Saint Vincent and the Grenadines." Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2011. [Accessed 27 Feb. 2013]

Vincy CHAP, St. Vincent chapter of the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Partnership. 28 February 2013. Correspondence sent by the Chairman to the Research Directorate.

_____. 27 February 2013. Correspondence sent by the Chairman to the Research Directorate.

Additional Sources Consulted

Internet Sites, including: Amnesty International; Caribbean 360; Caribbean Vulnerable Communities; Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court; Factiva; Global Gayz; Human Rights Watch; International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission; International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association; NBC Radio; Saint Vincent and the Grenadines - Ministry of Education, Ministry of Housing, Informal Human Settlements, Lands and Surveys and Physical Planning, Official Website; United Nations - Integrated Regional Information Networks, Refworld; The Vincentian.

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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