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3rd UPR session
Date of review: 3 December 2008
Date of report adoption: 9 January 2009
Document number: A/HRC/10/73
SOGIESC issues during Barbados’s 1st UPR review
I. SOGIESC issues/recommendations identified by NGOs
Equality and non discrimination
1. In a joint submission, the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA), ILGA-Europe, the Caribbean Forum for Liberation and Acceptance of Genders and Sexualities (CARIFLAGS) noted that the effect of having legal penalties for sodomy and for vaguely defined “indecent” acts is that even when they are not enforced, these laws strengthen social stigma against homosexuals. That stigma, in turn, can be even more effective than legal penalties in stripping individuals of their rights. The organizations noted that when a homosexual person cannot find employment, secure adequate housing, or get proper medical treatment because of social stigma, these difficulties amount to deprivations of life, liberty, health and opportunity on the basis of sexual orientation.
Right to privacy
4. In a joint submission, the International Lesbian and Gay Association (ILGA), ILGA-Europe, the Caribbean Forum for Liberation and Acceptance of Genders and Sexualities (CARIFLAGS), the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission and ARC International, ILGA indicated that Barbados maintains criminal sanctions against sexual activity between consenting adults. The Sexual Offences Act of 1992, which criminalizes sodomy, has the effect of amounting per se to discrimination against homosexuals (Chapter 154, para.9). Similarly, the Laws of Barbados which define and proscribe the crimes of “Indecent Assault” and “Serious Indecency” are troublesome because of their vague definition (Chapter 154, paras.11 and 12).” ILGA noted that these laws can be easily engineered to target and prosecute homosexuals and, more generally, all non-reproductive sexual behaviour. These laws strengthen social stigma against homosexuals.
5. While commending Barbados for supporting the historic resolution of the Organization of American States (OAS) on “human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity” and welcoming the State’s commitment to strengthening human rights protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the organizations, in keeping with this commitment, urged Barbados to bring its criminal provisions into conformity with international standards on the right to privacy and non-discrimination.
II. Excerpts on SOGIESC issues from the national report
V. KEY NATIONAL PRIORITIES
A. Prevention and control of HIV/AIDS
40. Central to the partnership with civil society has been engagement with PLHIV [people living with HIV] who have been represented on successive National Committees and Commissions since 1995. The NHAC provides funding for several services provided by CSOs such as CARE Barbados (Comfort Assist Reach out Educate), United Gays and Lesbians against AIDS Barbados (UGALAAB) and the AIDS Society of Barbados (ASOB).
III. Excerpts on SOGIESC issues by UN agencies
Equality and non-discrimination
18. The HR Committee expressed concern at discrimination against homosexuals, and in particular over the criminalizing of consensual sexual acts between adults of the same sex. The State should decriminalize such acts and take all necessary actions to protect homosexuals from harassment, discrimination and violence.
IV. KEY NATIONAL PRIORITIES, INITIATIVES AND COMMITMENTS
B. Specific recommendations for follow-up
49. In 2007, the HR Committee requested Barbados to provide, within one year, relevant information on the implementation of the Committee’s recommendations related to: the abolishment of the death penalty and accession to ICCPR-OP2; total abolition of corporal punishment; and discrimination against homosexuals and in particular the criminalization of consensual sexual acts between adults of the same sex. The follow-up response has been overdue since March 2008.
IV. References to SOGIESC issues during the Working Group review
14. Although there is no separate legislation protecting the rights of persons with disabilities and those of persons based on sexual orientation from discrimination, the Minister drew attention to section 11 of the Constitution relating to the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms of the individual, which generally reflects the principle that all men and women shall enjoy equal civil and political rights.
36. [France] stated that Barbadian legislation criminalizes consenting relations between adults of the same sex and provides for the offences of indecent assault and serious indecency, defining these offences vaguely. France recommended that the Government bring these criminal laws into line with international norms with respect to privacy and non-discrimination.
43. [Australia] noted that consensual sex acts between adults of the same sex are prohibited and enquired about actions the Government plans to take to ensure the human rights of gay and lesbian citizens.
44. Concerning the discrimination of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals, Sweden welcomed the clarification provided by the Minister on section 11 on the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms. Sweden recommended that the Government consider introducing specific legislation and additional policy measures in order to promote tolerance and non-discrimination of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals.
53. The Czech Republic […] further recommended the decriminalization of consensual same-sex activity between adults and the adoption of measures to promote tolerance in this regard, which would encourage more effective educational programmes for the prevention of HIV/AIDS.
57. Chile also recommended that all forms of corporal punishment be eliminated in its legislation and that sexual acts between consenting adults of the same sex be decriminalized.
58. Canada also recommended that Barbados decriminalize consensual sexual acts between adults of the same sex.
61. Slovenia […] recommended the decriminalization of consensual sexual acts between adults of the same sex and that it take all necessary actions to protect homosexuals from harassment, discrimination and violence and recommended that measures be taken to eliminate corporal punishment as a legitimate sanction in the Barbados law and that it be discouraged in schools with a view to its eventual and total abolition.
67. The Syrian Arab Republic […] strongly recommended that Barbados continue to exercise its full sovereign right concerning sexual orientation on the basis of its cultural fabric and legal system requirements.
74. The issue of consensual sex between adults of the same sex is a contentious one and it would be disingenuous of the Government to treat it flippantly. It is an issue that engages not only legal considerations but also socio-cultural and historical considerations. Barbados is a heavily religious society and has a tremendous lobby in terms of the church, including activist evangelists, who have their own views on this issue. The Government has to therefore consider all the elements involved and all suggestions and submissions, but at this stage is not in a position to make an intervention to abolish those laws, just as it is not yet in a position to allow the use of condoms in prison. These two issues are interlinked and have to be addressed together in their totality. It would be necessary to decriminalize consensual sex between persons of the same sex before any decision can be taken on the issue of allowing condoms in prison. The Government has received a report from the HIV/AIDS Commission which considers all of these issues and a national HIV/AIDS policy has been laid in Parliament. The Government hopes to address all of these issues in the fullness of time to the satisfaction of all interested parties.
V. Conclusions and/or recommendations
Barbados noted the following recommendations:
17.a Bring its criminal laws on criminalization of consenting relations between adults of the same sex, and on offences of indecent assault and serious indecency that are defined vaguely, into line with international norms with respect to privacy and non-discrimination (France);
17.b Decriminalize consensual sexual acts between adults of the same sex (Canada, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Chile);
17.c Take measures to promote tolerance in this regard, which would encourage more effective educational programmes for the prevention of HIV/AIDS (Czech Republic);
17.d Take all necessary actions to protect homosexuals from harassment, discrimination and violence (Slovenia);
17.e Consider introducing specific legislation and additional policy measures to promote tolerance and non-discrimination of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transsexuals (Sweden).