Antigua: Minister to recommend decriminalisation of buggery

Antigua Observer:- The Minister of Social Transformation, having taken notice of the discussion on the decriminalisation of buggery (anal sex) between consenting adults which was rehashed recently at the United Nations (UN), says she’s willing to make such a recommendation to the Cabinet.

In a brief interview with OBSERVER media, Minister of Social Transformation, Samantha Marshall admitted that she thought the law was “antiquated”.

“I think the law, as it was, is somewhat antiquated. To be honest I don’t know that it is something that is enforced at this stage and serves any purpose (and) so should be removed,” Marshall said.

The nation’s human rights record was examined at the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) last week and calls were renewed from the UPR Working Group for decriminalisation.

Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Legal Affairs, Senator Maureen Payne-Hyman, responded by assuring the working group that the law is not used to prosecute individuals for engaging in consensual buggery.

Marshall added, “At the time, Senator Hyman was not in position to give that commitment (decriminalization) but as the Minister responsible for gender affairs I have no difficulty in making a recommendation to Cabinet for the removal of that part of the legislation.”

Section 12 of the Sexual Offenses Act 1995 makes buggery committed by an adult male to another adult male or female an offence for which the individual who committed the act may be imprisoned for up to 15 years.

Though some argue that the provision can be applied to cases where buggery is committed non-consensually, the Act nonetheless criminalises consensual anal sex, which is often a practice of homosexuals. As such, many individuals locally and in the international community argue that the law discriminates against homosexuals.