The highest court in Barbados has struck down the country’s colonial-era laws that criminalized same-sex sexual relations. The Barbados High Court issued an oral ruling that declared the laws unconstitutional. A written ruling is expected from the court early next year. Barbados becomes the third Caribbean nation to overturn often inherited laws that criminalized gay sex.
“We really take this win as a stepping stone to ensuring access to justice,” Kenita Placide, executive director of Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality, Inc., told the APvia phone. The group provided support to the two LGBTQ+ advocates who were party to the suit.
“This historic decision is a significant step towards protecting the human rights and dignity of LGBT people in Barbados,” Luisa Cabal, UNAIDS regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean, said in a statement. “It will also strengthen the country’s HIV response by helping to reduce stigma and discrimination faced by LGBT people and increasing the uptake of HIV testing, treatment, and prevention services.”
Téa Braun, chief executive of Human Dignity Trust, echoed the sentiment that more work remains to be done regarding LGBTQ+ rights in the region. According to Braun, many members of the community are subject to violence in the remaining six countries in the region with similar laws still on the books.
“The striking down of these laws doesn’t solve all problems of course,” Braun told the AP, noting that the LGBTQ community still faces violence and discrimination in the region, causing many to flee. “The dismantling of these laws is the first major step, but not the last step.”