Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

For a summary of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ review at the second cycle please click here.

11th UPR session
Date of review: 10 May 2011
Date of report adoption: 23 September 2011
Working Group report: A/HRC/18/15

Summary

Recommendations made: Institute policies and initiatives to address discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity; Repeal all discriminatory provisions against LGBT people.

Status of recommendations: Pending.

Recommendations made: Implement the 2008 recommendation of the UN Human Rights Committee to repeal the section 146 of the Criminal Code that criminalizes sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex.

Status of recommendations: Rejected.

I. Key issues/recommendations identified by NGOs

  • Recommend that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines implement the 2008 recommendation of the UN Human Rights Committee to repeal section 146 of the Criminal Code criminalising sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex.

II. Excerpts from input reports
National Report

IV. Achievement, priorities and challenges
B. HIV/AIDS

80. Successes – The HIV/AIDS prevention and control programme has achieved numerous successes as a result of the great political will of the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the availability of resources and the high level of dedication of personnel from both public and private sector. Success stories are fitting for every aspect of the HIV/AIDS prevention and control programme. The establishment of the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Alliance in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has successfully attempted to bridge the gap between prevention and support services and most-at risk groups such as men who have sex with men and sex workers. The work of the alliance is done through peer communicators. The programme is effectively monitored and quarterly reports are produced and disseminated to the Ministry of Health and the Environment. Similar work is done by the PSI where their prevention programme is not only geared towards sex workers and men who have sex with men but also to youth on the block.

88. There is still a wide information gap in knowledge surrounding most-at risk groups in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. One of the major groups of concern is the men that have sex with men. The Ministry of Health and the Environment is planning to conduct a behavioural survey and seroprevalence study amongst men who have sex with men in order to gain strategic information for the purpose of effective policy and programme development geared towards men who have sex with men. The activities carried out by both public and private sector have been immense, however, the effectiveness of prevention programmes have been difficult to measure as it requires the realization of behavioural surveys. The Ministry of Health & the Environment conducted a behavioural survey in 2005 and aim to conduct another geared towards the general population. This will offer the necessary information to evaluate the accomplishments of the prevention programmes through comparative analysis with the OECS BSS 2005.

Compilation of UN Information

II. Promotion and protection of human rights on the ground
B. Implementation of international human rights obligations
4. Right to privacy, marriage and family life

44. In 2008, the HR Committee was concerned that consensual homosexual acts between adults in private were still criminalized under section 146 of the Criminal Code. It recommended that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines consider the abolition of this law.

Compilation of Stakeholder Information

II. Promotion and protection of human rights on the ground
Implementation of international human rights obligations
2. Right to privacy, marriage and family life

3. Joint Submission 1 recommended that the Human Rights Council, in its upcoming UPR review, urge Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to bring its legislation into conformity with its commitment to equality and non-discrimination, and its international human rights obligations, by repealing all provisions which may be applied to criminalise sexual activity between consenting adults.

III. References to SOGI during the Working Group review
Interactive dialogue and responses by the State under review

24. The United States of America commended Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ for its attention to combating discrimination against persons with disabilities, and welcomed the ratification of the CRPD and encouraged it to effectively implement it. It remained concern at the continued reports of violence against women which is not specifically criminalized in the law and noted that in many instances domestic violence goes unpunished. The United States also remained that homosexual acts are illegal under certain statutes. It made recommendations.

26. Norway noted Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ retention of the death penalty but welcomed the fact that there have been no executions for more than ten years. It raised concern about reported violence against women. Norway welcomed the commitment to principles of equality and non-discrimination, the measures taken to address and reduce rates of HIV/AIDS and efforts to bridge the gap between prevention and support services. It noted the criminal provisions prohibiting sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex. Norway made recommendations.

28. France noted that death penalty is still enshrined in the legislation, even though there has been no execution since 1997. It also noted that violence against women remains an issue of concern. It inquired about measures envisaged to prevent sexual exploitation of children and to assist and reintegrate children victims of such exploitation in accordance with recommendations made by the Committee on the Rights of the Child.  It also inquired on whether the recommendations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child calling for a study on the scope of the phenomenon of street children had been implemented. It noted that section 146 of the Penal Code criminalises sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex. It made recommendations.

29. In response to comments and additional questions, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines indicated that its national legislation included a variety of provisions that dealt with sexual activity between consenting adults. Existing legislation against incest, prostitution, public indecency, same sex acts and buggery, all enjoyed wide popular support in the State and there was no legislative appetite to repeal any of these provisions. To the extent that recommendations were specifically targeted to consensual homosexual sex, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines noted that its legislation on buggery was inherited from the United Kingdom, whose Buggery Act and Offences against the Person Act both predated the local legislation. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines noted the hundreds of years that it took for the United Kingdom to repeal similar legislation, and the harsh nature of the sentences imposed under British law, and compared them to the relatively short period of time that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has been an independent state, and the less punitive sanctions involved. In the context of the moral, societal and cultural makeup of the State, there is currently no desire to revisit that legislation.

44. Germany […] made reference to the concern expressed by the Human Rights Committee in 2008, that consensual acts between adults in private were still criminalized under section 146 of the Criminal Code. It made recommendations.

48. Canada took note of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines human rights commitment. Canada was concern on the challenges faced in protecting juveniles in the legal system; on the poor prison conditions, mistreatment, corruption by guards and uncontrolled presence of weapons and drugs; on the legal sanctions and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; and on the death penalty. Canada made recommendations.

IV. Conclusions and/or recommendations
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines provided the following responses to recommendations:

78.18. Institute policies and initiatives to address discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity (Canada);

Response: The Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has considered this recommendation and is of the view that instituting policies and or initiatives relating to sexual orientation or gender identity requires extensive national consultation given the nature of the issues involved.

78.26. Repeal all discriminatory provisions against LGBT people (France);

Response: The Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines cannot accept at this time this recommendation to repeal provisions against lesbian and gays, as the public sentiment favours the retention of provisions which criminalize beggary and sexual relations between adults of the same sex (Sections 146 and 148 of the Criminal Code of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, respectively) Moreover, the Government wishes to inform that there are no discriminatory laws against gays, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender people in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines as the constitution prohibits discrimination in all forms related to the enjoyment of people’s rights and freedoms. In addition, it must be noted that prosecution of public indecency is not limited to homosexual acts but also relates to heterosexual acts between consenting adults.

79.     The recommendations below did not enjoy the support of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines:

79.3.   Bring the legislation into conformity with its commitment to equality and non-discrimination and its international human rights obligations, by repealing all provisions which may be applied to criminalize sexual activity between consenting adults (United Kingdom);

79.12. Consider revising its criminal code, in particular aiming at decriminalizing sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex (Brazil);

79.13. Repeal all provisions in the law which may be used to criminalize consensual sexual activity between adults (United States);

79.14. Abolish the section 146 of the Criminal Code as a first step towards the introduction of a law prohibiting the discrimination of same sex relationships (Germany); and repeal this section which criminalises sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex (Norway);

79.15. Eliminate legal sanctions against consensual sexual acts between adults in private (Canada);

79.16. Implement the 2008 recommendation of the Human Rights Committee by decriminalising sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex (France);

79.17. Implement the 2008 recommendation of the UN Human Rights Committee to repeal the section 146 of the Criminal Code that criminalizes sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex (Slovenia);

V. Adoption of the Report
Comments by States and other stakeholders

Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network

Madam President, distinguished members of the delegation,

We welcome the stated commitment of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to principles of equality and non-discrimination.

We are therefore particularly disappointed that the government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines did not accept numerous recommendations to repeal laws that criminalise sexual activity between consenting adults.

This runs directly counter to a specific recommendation of the United Nations Human Rights Committee, which in 2008 expressed regret that Saint Vincent and the Grenadines maintains laws criminalising consensual same-sex relations and urged the government to repeal s. 146 of the Criminal Code.

While we welcome the measures described in the National Report to address and reduce rates of HIV/AIDS, including the establishment of the Caribbean HIV/AIDS Alliance in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Human Rights Committee has specifically emphasised that laws criminalising consensual same-sex conduct impede the fulfilment of HIV education and prevention efforts.

The government acknowledged at the UPR Working Group that these laws are colonial imports, and indeed the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Navanethem Pillay, recently emphasised:

“Sadly, […] there remain too many countries which continue to criminalize sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex in defiance of established human rights law. Ironically many of these laws, like Apartheid laws that criminalized sexual relations between consenting adults of different races, are relics of the colonial era and are increasingly becoming recognized as anachronistic and as inconsistent both with international law and with traditional values of dignity, inclusion and respect for all.”

In its written response today, the delegation suggested that these issues are sensitive for some; however, as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recently stated to this Council: “No doubt deeply rooted cultural sensitivities can be aroused when we talk about sexual orientation. Social attitudes run deep and take time to change. But cultural considerations should not stand in the way of basic human rights.”

We would therefore ask the delegation how it reconciles its rejection of recommendations 79.3, 79.12, 79.13, 79.14, 79.15, 79.16, 79.17, 78.18 and 78.26, with its international obligations and with the decisions of UN treaty bodies in this area?

We note that the delegation has indicated that national consultations will be needed to move this issue forward, and we would therefore encourage the government to commit to a process for bringing its legislation into conformity with international human rights standards.

VI. Further information
UPR Documentation

National report 1 :  AC | E | FR | S
Compilation of UN information 2 :  AC | E | FR | S
Summary of stakeholders’ information 3 :  AC | E | FR | S
Questions submitted in advance :  E only
Addendum 1 :  E only
Addendum 2 :  E only
Addendum 3 :  E only

Outcome of the review
Report of the Working group   : A | C | E | F | R | S
Addendum 1 : E
Decision of the outcome : A | C | E | F | R | S
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