01 November 2006 – irb-cisr.gc.ca
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: Treatment of homosexuals, including the availability of state protection and the attitude of the general public toward them
Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa
Very limited information on the treatment of homosexuals, including the availability of state protection and the attitude of the general public toward members of the homosexual community in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
Sexual relations in private between consenting adults of the same sex are prohibited in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (Ottosson 2006; see also World Policy Institute Dec. 2003, 1). According to a report published on the World Policy Institute’s Web site, Article 146 of the 1990 Criminal Code of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines states that "any person who ‘commits buggery [anal intercourse] with any other person,’ and any person who ‘permits any person to commit buggery with him or her,’ is ‘liable to imprisonment for ten years’" (Dec. 2003, 83; Ottosson 2006). Article 148 of the 1990 Criminal Code stipulates that "any person who, whether in public or private, commits any act of gross indecency with another person of the same sex, or procures or attempts to procure another person of the same sex to commit an act of gross indecency with him or her, is guilty of an offense and liable to imprisonment for five years" (World Policy Institute Dec. 2003, 83; Ottosson 2006).
A joint report published by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that, in general, homophobia is common in almost all Caribbean countries and that homosexuals in those countries are socially stigmatized (UN Dec. 2005; see also ibid. Apr. 2004). An immigration officer at the Canadian High Commission in Trinidad and Tobago provided the following information on the treatment of homosexuals in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in correspondence dated 9 July 2006. He noted that public statements have been made that promote discrimination against gays and lesbians for religious reasons. However, he explained that although homophobia is still widespread in the country, the general public does not appear to be aggressive toward homosexuals. The Canadian Immigration Officer also indicated that there are no government programs or non-governmental organizations in place that offer services to the homosexual community of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
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.
Canada. 9 July 2006. Canadian High Commission in Trinidad and Tobago. Correspondence from a Canadian immigration officer.
Ottosson, Daniel. 2006. "Legal Survey on the Countries in the World Having Legal Prohibitions on Sexual Activities between Consenting Adults in Private." (International Gay and Lesbian Association Web site). <http://www.ilga.org/statehomophobia/LGBcriminallaws-Daniel_Ottoson.pdf> [Accessed 18 Oct. 2006]
United Nations (UN). December 2005. Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and the World Health Organisation (WHO). "Caribbean." AIDS Epidemic Update: December 2005. <http://www.unaids.org/epi/2005/doc/EPIupdate2005_pdf_en/Epi05_08_en.pdf> [Accessed 18 Oct. 2006]
April 2004. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Le nouveau Courrier. "Santé/Culture. Problèmes au paradis : le sida dans les Caraïbes." <http://portal.unesco.org/fr/ ev.php-URL_ID=21211&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html> [Accessed 19 Oct. 2006]
World Policy Institute. December 2003. Andrew Reding. "Sexual Orientation and Human Rights in the Americas." World Policy Reports. <http://www.worldpolicy.org/globalrights/sexorient/2003-LGBT-Americas.pdf> [Accessed 18 Oct. 2006]
Additional Sources Consulted
Internet sites, including: Amnesty International (AI), Barbados Gays and Lesbians Against Discrimination (BGLAD), Human Rights Watch (HRW), International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), United States Department of State.
10 May 2011 – ISHR
UPR of St Vincent and the Grenadines: no decriminalisation of same-sex relationships
On 10 May 2011, the Working Group on the UPR examined the human rights situation in St Vincent and the Grenadines. The small delegation was headed by Mr Camillo M. Gonsalves (Permanent Representative to the United Nations, New York) who responded to the questions and comments raised by States.
The majority of comments and questions revolved around the retention in law of the death penalty, criminalisation of same-sex relations in domestic legislation, violence against women, delayed submission of reports to treaty bodies, children’s rights, and prison conditions. To this end, States made the following comments and recommendations:
Consider ratifying the international conventions to which it is not yet a party i.e. the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, and its second optional protocol aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture, and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.
• Adhere to its reporting obligations to treaty bodies and, if necessary, seek technical assistance to support it in meeting these obligations.
• Extend a standing invitation to all the UN special procedure mandate holders.
• Establish an independent national human rights institution (NHRI) in compliance with the Paris Principles.
• While welcoming the de facto moratorium on the use of the death penalty, call upon the State to abolish capital punishment in law.
• Repeal existing legislation that criminalises same-sex relations.
• Adopt legal and educational measures to combat violence against women, particularly domestic violence.
• Referring to concerns expressed in a UNICEF report from 2010 that the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) were not sufficiently and explicitly enshrined in domestic legislation, States called for national legislation to be brought into conformity with international law i.e. to increase the minimum age of criminal responsibility, to halt corporal punishment, to combat discrimination against children belonging to low-income minority groups, and to provide a safe and secure environment for juveniles in detention centres.
• Referring to a UNICEF survey from 2006, that over half of children in the country suffer from malnutrition,States urged that adequate measures be taken to ensure food security for children.
• Improve prison conditions by reducing over-crowding, and providing adequate education and health services to detainees.
Align domestic legislation with the ‘Bangkok Rules’ for the treatment of female prisoners, particularly with regards to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.
• Urging the State to investigate complaints made by citizens regarding assaults by the police, and to provide human rights education and training for police officials.
• Seek international cooperation and assistance in the fight against poverty and in the areas of development and capacity building.
Thirty-four States took the floor during the review. While addressing all issues in quite a comprehensive manner, the head of the delegation nevertheless adopted a somewhat defensive tone.For example, regarding the repeated calls for abolishing death penalty and de-criminalising same-sex relations, Mr Gonsalves responded that there is currently no mood for these changes, as these laws are widely accepted in society. He also mentioned that the particularities of small States should be taken into account when approaching such matters. In response to the concern expressed by several States over the severity of child malnutrition, Mr Gonsalves maintained that the information that was presented is inaccurate and outdated. Finally, regarding numerous calls to extend a standing invitation to UN special procedures, he replied that while the will to receive visits does exist, the State was unable to support the additional fiscal burden that such visits would bring with them.
At the adoption of the report, the delegation accepted 49 out of the 92 recommendations made, including investments in housing, the rule of law, and the protection of women. They stated that they would be unable to accept recommendations to decriminalise same-sex relations and to abolish the death penalty in law (noting that in any case they had not executed anyone in the last 15 years). The delegation also rejected claims that children of minority groups face discrimination and suggested that statistical errors could explain the apparent overcrowding of prisons. The rejection of these recommendations and position on all other outstanding recommendations will be notified to the 18th session of the Human Rights Council in September 2011.
For more information, including statements delivered and the report of the Working Group, see the OHCHR extranet (username: hrc extranet, password: 1session).