Press Releases & Events

Saint Kitts and Nevis: The situation of homosexuals

state protection and availability of support groups
Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa

Information on the situation of homosexuals in Saints Kitts and Nevis (also known as St. Christopher and Nevis) was scarce among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. However, a country report on HIV/AIDS in Saint Kitts and Nevis by the Ministry of Health states that “homophobia is rampant” (St. Christopher and Nevis 2007, 17). The report provides the following information: The stigma associated with male-to-male [MSM] sex leads some homosexuals to have a female partner as an alibi… . Also, the illegal status of ‘buggery’ drives MSM underground, thus impeding access to health education and STD/HIV treatment.

Cultural taboos around HIV, sex and sexuality are barriers to access sexual health services. (ibid.) According to the United States (US) Department of State’s Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2007, “anecdotal evidence suggested that societal discrimination against homosexuals and persons with HIV/AIDS occurred” (11 Mar. 2008, Sec. 5).

A report on Saint Kitts and Nevis by the United Kingdom (UK) Foreign and Commonwealth Office indicates that “[c]ertain homosexual acts are illegal under the laws of St. Kitts and Nevis” (19 May 2008). The International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA) corroborates this information in its May 2008 report on state-sponsored homophobia and refers to sections of the Saint Kitts and Nevis “Offences Against the Person Act”:

Section 56
“The abominable crime of buggery” – up to 10 years imprisonment, with or without hard labour.

Section 57
“Whosoever attempts to commit the said abominable crime, or is guilty of any assault with intent to commit the same, or of any indecent assault upon any male person, is guilty of misdemeanour, and being convicted thereof shall be liable to be imprisoned for any term not exceeding four (4) years with or without hard labour.” (ILGA May 2008; see also Reding Dec. 2003, 83)

The 2003 report Sexual Orientation and Human Rights in the Americas indicates that, in Saint Kitts and Nevis, “any indecent assault upon any male person” may result in up to four years of imprisonment (Reding 2003, 83). The report also states that “indecent assault” is not precisely defined so it “could potentially encompass any behaviour perceived as a homosexual advance” (ibid.). Country Reports 2007 states that, in Saint Kitts and Nevis, “[t]here are no laws that prohibit discrimination against a person on the basis of sexual orientation” (11 Mar. 2008, Sec. 5).

In contrast to the aforementioned information, a 19 August 2006 British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) article states that at the 16th International Conference on AIDS in Toronto, Prime Minister of Saint Kitts and Nevis Denzil Douglas was reported to have said that “consenting adults should be allowed to enter into homosexual relationships… .”

Information on the availability of support groups could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response. 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
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). 19 August 2006. “Caribbean States Should Legalize Homosexuality, Prostitution – St Kitts PM.” (Factiva)

International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA). May 2008. Daniel Ottosson. “Saint Kitts and Nevis.” State-Sponsored Homophobia: A World Survey of Laws Prohibiting Same Sex Activity Between Consenting Adults. <http://www.ilga.org/statehomophobia/ILGA_State_Sponsored_ Homophobia_2008.pdf> [Accessed 28 May 2008]

Reding, Andrew. December 2003. World Policy Institute. “Sexual Orientation and Human Rights in the Americas.” (Asylumlaw.org) <http://www.asylumlaw.org/docs/sexualminorities/worldpolicyinstitute_ americas_LGBTrights.pdf> [Accessed 4 June 2008]

St. Christopher and Nevis. 2007. Ministry of Health. “Follow-up to the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS (UNGASS).” (UNAIDS) <http://data.unaids.org/pub/Report/2008/saint%20kitts_and_nevis_2008_country_progress_report_en.pdf> [Accessed 28 May 2008]

United Kingdom (UK). 19 May 2008. Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). “Saint Christopher and Nevis (St. Kitts and Nevis).” <http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/travelling-and-living-overseas/travel-advice-by-country/north-central-america/saint-christopher-nevis-st-kitts> [Accessed 28 May 2008]

United States (US). 11 March 2008. Department of State. “Saint Kitts and Nevis.” Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2007. <http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100651.htm> [Accessed 24 Apr. 2008]

Additional Sources Consulted
Oral sources: Attempts to contact a professor and author of a book on homosexuality in the Caribbean and an official at the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) were unsuccessful.

Internet sites, including: Amnesty International (AI), Avert.org, CARICOM Law, European Country of Origin Information Network (ecoi.net), Freedom House, Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), Gay Planet Holidays, Gay Times, Gayguide.net, Gay/Lesbian International News Network, GlobaLex, Human Rights Watch (HRW), International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), Legislationline.org, Queer Resources Directory, Sodomy Laws, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (USCRI).



Amnesty International
http://www.amnestyusa.org/document.php?id=ENGAMR590012008&lang=e

22 December 2008

Public Statement – AI index: AMR 59/001/2008

About the author

Winsome Murphy