Also see: Caribbean Anti Violence Project
August 23, 2003 – St. Lucia Star, Castries, St. Lucia, West Indies
Gays outlawed in St Lucia: A change is coming?
by Petulah Olibert
For years homosexuality has been frowned upon in St Lucian society. Homosexuals and those suspected of the practice have been called names, been laughed and jeered at and at times even attacked. The recent election of homosexual priest Gene Robinson to the post of Bishop of the Episcopal Church in New Hampshire has sparked renewed debate on the matter.
Last Tuesday, Radio 100’s André Paul let his feelings be known on his That/What Makes Me Mad morning show and invited his callers to do the same. "It goes against what God says. It is unnatural," one caller said. Another quoted the Bible: "Do not be deceived," he read, "neither fornicators, adulterers, homosexuals nor sodomites, thieves, covetors, revelers, drunkards nor extortioners will inherit the Kingdom of God. You must stop being homosexual to make it right with God.
"Fornicators can make it right by getting married, so can adulterers. Adultery is not something God likes, but it happens occasionally. Depending on the circumstances, you can get married and make it right, but homosexuals can’t make it right by getting married."
Confused? So was I.
In St Lucia, homosexuality is a crime penalized by imprisonment: The laws state that "a person who commits buggery is guilty of an offense and liable on conviction to imprisonment for (a) life, if committed by an adult on a minor; (b) twenty-five years if committed by an adult on another adult; (c) in this section buggery means sexual intercourse per anus by a male person with a male or by a male person with a female."
But for many homosexuals, their lifestyles do not feel unnatural. In a research study on homosexuality undertaken by a US resident and college student Kevyn Jacobs, he reportedly found that brain differences and in-utero development may influence one’s sexual orientation. In the study, certain structures found in the brains of homosexual men were also found in the brains of females. "My opinion is that there are probably a confluence of factors – biological, genetic, and environmental – that come together to shape sexual orientation. In the face of this growing body of evidence, the continuing assertion that homosexuality is a chosen orientation is not very credible. Frankly, I think I was born this way," said Jacobs.
So does Shermark. For as long as he could remember, the 22-year-old said, he always felt different. He never knew why. Growing up, he had been subjected to derogatory name calling at school. "I really didn’t make a big deal out of it," he told me in an interview last week. "At first, I used to wonder why I was so different? But while growing up and reading and watching TV I started to understand who I was. I really thought I was the only one who felt the way I did. "One day, I was invited to this party. When I got there, I was surprised to see guys dancing with guys and girls with girls." For the first time, he felt relieved that he was not alone. "After that I started dressing in women’s clothes. I feel comfortable that way."
The ridicule has not stopped. "People still call me names," he said. "The easiest thing for me was to ignore such people. I expected that kind of thing. This is who I am – I’m different. People here are so small-minded. "It’s so different when I travel overseas. Sometimes, I forget that I’m gay because there is no one calling me names. It is only in St Lucia that people harass me. There are people who hate me without even knowing me. How can you hate somebody without knowing what they are like on the inside?
Sometimes, I feel like I have to live my entire life dealing with that kind of reaction from people," Shermark explained. On rare occasions, he meets people who are understanding. "’You look good,’ they say, ‘I don’t agree with your lifestyle, but it’s your life.’ Why can’t more people be like that? It is as if being gay is the worst sin in the world. Men molest and rape ladies and children all the time, but to them, being gay is the worst sin. "I’m still scared about people’s reactions sometimes, but I have to get on with my life and I have to love myself. I can’t hide all the time while everyone else is enjoying their lives. I refuse to do that!"
Shermark says his family has supported him throughout and their attitude towards him has not changed. They were not surprised at his revelation. Surprised that homosexuality is outlawed in St Lucia, the easily excitable young man remarked with raised brows: "My God! I should be arrested and thrown in the last cell at Bordelais!" All jokes aside, he felt that everyone should be entitled to their rights.
"We are all human. Who am I to judge someone? When I realized I was different, I wanted to change, but no one knew what I was feeling on the inside. I did not wake up one morning and say: I want to be gay. It’s something I cannot explain. I know it’s not accepted generally but I feel comfortable with my lifestyle. Everyone is making it a problem. I cannot understand why. I think it’s because I’m full hundred," he said – the term he uses to describe his coming out.
According to an article by Richard Stern published in the STAR, the laws forbidding homosexuality in St Lucia are reportedly on the brink of change. In the July 30 article the Director of Agua Buena Human Rights Association related that in an interview with Health Minister Damian Greaves, he was asked if his comments about discrimination against homosexuals and its negative impact on the effort to curb HIV/AIDS applied to the possible decriminalization of homosexual behavior in St Lucia.
He had quoted Greaves as saying: "We are reviewing our criminal code within the next two or three months and we want to move in that direction. Our ministry will be championing this issue at the Cabinet level." In an interview with the STAR on Tuesday, Greaves explained his motive. "There are closeted homosexuals infected with HIV/AIDS. They cannot come out openly to receive the treatment that they need because of a fear of being discriminated against because they are homosexuals," he said.
"Do you think it is fair to make homosexuality a criminal offense? I don’t think it’s fair at all. Why not make infidelity a criminal offense? Why criminalize homosexuality?" Making it clear that he was speaking from a personal point of view, he continued: "As long as the individual does not impose his or her values on me, I have no problem with it."
But André was having none of it. Even as I spoke to the minister on the phone he could be heard in the background: "In this country, whatever the international community is doing, we’re there," he said. "The minister of health is already giving us the cue: ‘We are reviewing our criminal code and we want to move in that direction,’ yeah, the same direction – change the law. The United States is doing it, so we’re doing it. Tell you boy, we really need leadership in this country."
According to André, the church has also failed when it comes to leadership. "There is so much hypocrisy in the church these days that it is weak. How many of the church leaders even bother to set the record straight? You know why [they don’t]? Because many of them are involved in the same issues that they know are wrong. Many of them are involved in the whole thing of homosexuality!" Meanwhile the debate goes on.
21 April 2005 – Raphael Louisy
Reply to St.Lucia Radio’s Andre Paul (see News Report #1 above)
Campaigning for a change against injustice and insensitivity in St. Lucia
Message to Mr. Andrè Paul:
While surfing the St. Lucian net for information on AIDS/HIV research media publications in reference to stigma and institutional discrimination, I discovered the article Gay St.Lucia Island, West Iindies, (see News & Reports 2003, #1 above) by Petulah Olibert, my interest in this article stems not only from a talking head point of view, but as a native of St.Lucia living in the United Kingdom, who is passionate about the progress of St. Lucia`s economics and social progress in our fast moving globalised world.
In short, I am offended by your on-air anti-gay statements such as, "You must stop being homosexual to make it right with God."
Campaigning for a change against archaic dogmatic injustice and insensitivity in St. Lucia, as reflected by Andre Paul’s radio talks, are my future goals.
The basic idea is the founding of a voluntary organisation based in London, with the aims and objectives of networking and lobbing for changes in a progressive world, the need for the above statement to become reality is stated in a number of references, published on the world wide web, and to instill this foundation we need to network with a varied group of outspoken members and supporters like yourselves.
Please respond in reference to the following, the stigmas experienced, the apathy, rejection and trauma that was left behind,
In the meantime i will be networking with as many groups as possible in the uk and elsewhere, to aqiure as much information as possible, to continue the positive aspects of preventitive intervention.
Please be kind enough, to despatch this E- mail to as many supporters as possible,
Replies and response to: ArchAngel Voluntary Organisation (AAVO)
We also have a specific E-mail address for contact
Our latest information is on the development of vaccines, and possible precautions, that one should exercise.
St Lucian law may permit same-sex marriage, says local hotelier
by Shervon Alfred, Caribbean Net News St Lucia Correspondent – Email
Castries, St Lucia – On a strict legal interpretation, it could be argued that the marriage laws in St Lucia permit same-sex marriages, says Allen Chastanent, Vice President of the St Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association (SLHTA).
Chastanent, a local hotelier, is calling on the government urgently to review the laws governing marriage on the island. “St Lucian law for getting married refers to ‘persons’ and ‘persons’ goes on to refer to husband and wife. English language tells you if you say, ‘persons’ are you really meaning that the other people need to be a male and a female?” he asked. The former Air Jamaica executive believes that while “there is some very loose suggestion that they should be male and female, any good lawyer can argue around that,” in favour of gay marriages in St Lucia.
The SLHTA Vice President believes there is a great opportunity in the gay market for the island as tourist destination. “I want to be very clear, I don’t think that one should be making a moral decision based on economics… but the gay market is a huge market. In fact in our industry we refer to them as DINKS, which we call Double Income No Kids, so it is a very large market.” However, the SLHTA is apparently concerned that sexual preference discrimination is affecting the ability of local hotels to effectively tap into the gay market. “That market is very sensitive to being discriminated against,” Chastanent said.
St Lucian law makes it illegal for two men to engage in sexual intercourse; however Chastanent noted that the law against “buggery” is not being enforced. “No one here that I know of is being charged with that… so if the intent is not to in fact enforce the law and we were to repeal the act of buggery, then you would open the market and probably would be more in keeping with what’s taking place on the global trend,” he said. He added that, “I’m not saying that St Lucia ought to follow what everybody else is doing but certainly for a market, there is a growing demand for people who are gay and want to either come on honeymoon or get married in St Lucia.”
July 8th, 2010 – St. Lucia Star
Why Gay Men Live a Lie!
by Kayle Lewis
Confessions of Closet Homosexual in Saint Lucia
When I decided to write this series of articles from within the closet, my objective was neither entertainment nor sensationalism. This is way too serious an issue and life is way too short for me to be engaged in such.
I continue to follow the discussion on the STAR website with much interest. Indeed, there are those who are voicing some very profound insight into the discussion, while of course, there are those who are venting their moral outrage on the issue and yet still others who want to take a myopic view on the matter—and you know what? They are all expected, and as such, people participating in the debate on the issue should respect what is being said on both counts. After all, what makes a rainbow colourful are its varying colours.
While I continue to follow the debate, I note something that has always disturbed me. I find that as a people, we tend to want to analyze, analyze and still analyze. While being analytical has its place, sometimes we can miss the essence – it’s like making the simple complex. The fact of the matter is that there are some things that will never change and homosexuality, which is as old as rock formations, will continue. It’s time that we move to the point of acceptance and let be and leave the “judgment” to whatever higher power we believe in.
From my window in the closet, it continues to amaze me, as to how homophobic we are as a Caribbean people. I smile when I hear that in some Caribbean countries if a van is filled and there is a male in the front with space for one more passenger next to him, that another male would not take the front seat but rather go in the back and perhaps “jam up” under five or six other males instead. Am I missing something? Is it not the same male you are going to “jam up” under in the back?
From my closet, I would like to make a point that I omitted and it’s an important one—femininity in a male does not equal homosexuality as masculinity does not always equal being straight. Too often, feminine young men have been branded as being gay and often times this is not the case. While I have listened to debates and discussions over the years, it was not easy for me to fully accept that my sexual attraction was towards the same sex. I came to the realization that truth is truth, and that its nature is to be told. As a matter of fact, the more you deny truth, the more it gathers strength.
Many people continue to deny their feelings. I struggled with my own for years. It’s amazing that I am still alive. Once I wrote a letter intended for my family. I locked my room and held the razor near to my wrist, for I had realized that the desires that I had toward men and my wanting to be with a man would not have been accepted by those around me. I will never forget that night and the pain that I experienced. I was cognizant of the attitudes towards gays and felt that I was not at that point where I wanted to let what I was feeling be known. I was not ready to pay the price. To this date, my few friends do not know about this painful episode. And I am sure that there are young men who are struggling like I have— perhaps some are even reading my words. Could you imagine a “thug” or a “shatta” struggling with those types of feelings? Of course he would be given a “heterosexual pill.” While there are many faces in the closet, there are also many personalities; there are those men in the closet, who are
in the lifestyle for pleasure, some for money and some looking for love and a deep relationship.
I happen to be in the latter group and trust me, it’s not the best group to be in. It was hard for me when I fell in love with a man—a man who told me that he was not gay but that he was merely having sex with men for pleasure. And to think that I fell in love with such a man! You see, while there are those who might want to say that I am part of the deception that is far from the truth, for, because of my embracement of who I am, I have been seeking for depth and a lasting relationship.
Unfortunately, the men I am attracted to or end up being intimate with are either confused about their sexuality, or they simply want to lick both sides of the stamp. I’ll never forget one instance when I saw my lover on the street with his girlfriend hanging with his buddies. He had left my bed only the morning before and yet the next day, he did not so much as acknowledge me! That night, I drank myself to sleep. Sometimes because you are in the closet, it’s hard to find the kind of sustaining emotional support that you would need, particularly when you are a closeted man like me looking for something lasting and deep. You see, for a man like me, who values trust and fidelity, there are periods of gut wrenching pain—especially when I become attracted to the wrong man: the man who merely wants a quick fix.
These are the words from my closet. My words are not written for indoctrination,nor are they written for judgments or speculation. They are my words; my struggles—which can perhaps be someone else’s struggles as well. I made the decision to share, to bring to light an issue that, like so many others, we want to continue to sweep under the covers. You have your values. I respect them. You have your opinions. I respect them. You make your choices. I have made mine. You can choose to read my words or you can choose not to . . . but whatever you do, remember in the final analysis, you have to give an account and so do I. Until then, judge not!
19th March 2011 – The Voice
by Earl Bousquet
When I was growing up, being gay meant being glad. People boasted of enjoying themselves in a state of “gay abandon”. Even in Kweyol, old people would watch a child having a good time and say “Ee jay eh?”. Back then, being gay was not being sad — and to be told you were being gay was meant to be a compliment. But not today. Nobody wants to be called gay these days. Not even Ben Gay. You call a man gay and he either takes it as an insult and gets violent; or, in some cases, he’ll wonder whether you’re a spotter on the prowl with a keen sense of seeing what he’s hiding under his skin.
With the gay debate now here these days, I suspect we’ll be hearing a lot of the word. In fact, I’ve heard it so much this week that I ended up looking it up in the dictionary. (Believe me, I actually did…) My Little Oxford defines gay as “light-hearted, mirthful, showy and dissolute.” And then, at the end of the line comes the word “homosexual”. So then, the word “gay” actually has more than just one meaning. But, I repeat, most people would rather not be described as “gay”, whatever or whichever meaning you mean.
The debate here hasn’t reached the stage where people are distinguishing between being gay, lesbian, homosexual, heterosexual, or all those other sexy descriptions of different types of sex between males and males, females and females, males and females – and ”toute moun” mixed together. It’s still a debate about whether gays have rights, why their rights should be respected, whether St. Lucia is a homophobic society, whether there’s place in a Christian society for gays and lesbians, whether we should promote gay tourism and whether the rights accorded gays elsewhere are recognized or applicable here.
It’s an interesting debate. Only those involved would know whether the three visitors attacked the other day were simply robbed or were specifically targeted. However, they threatened to bring down the wrath of the gay world on St. Lucia — and they’ve already started to target our national economic lifeblood. At the same time, St. Lucia is being targeted for special attention because of our record on related issues at the United Nations, where St. Lucia’s position on such matters seems to be more dictated by the Christian values of our delegate than the legitimacy of the issue.
You may not realize it, but there have been some very interesting developments here (and elsewhere in the Christian Caribbean) regarding gays and tourism. The Sandals Hotel Chain was once taken to court by two men who booked a room at one of the “couples only” Sandals hotels and were turned down because the hotel interprets “a couple” as a man and a woman – and not two men or two women. More recently, taxi drivers and others at Pointe Seraphine hit the roof in protest when the first tourist ship arrived here with a gay cruise. I remember one guy complaining that he can never drive two men kissing and holding hands in the back of his car.
“Nastiness” is what he called it. But after those drivers who treated any two men or women as visiting passengers boasted about how big the gays tip – by over US $100 in some instances – my complaining driver friend said he would take them on board next time – but he’ll turn up his rear view mirror, so that he does not have to see what’s happening in the car seat behind his back. In the Bahamas the other day, taxi drivers and church groups came together to oppose gay cruises that also featured gay weddings and other gay shows. But the government maintained that the diversity of the tourism product was a boon for the Bahamas economy – and the “gay cruises” continue. (Of course, they don’t call them that, but that’s what they turn out to be.
“Homosexual”, “Lesbian” and “Gay” were not the type of sophisticated words I grew up with. The people so described today had more crude descriptions back then – from “macoumere” to “boolah” to “zamiez”. It was also interesting that back then – and still today – that a girl behaving like a boy was called a “Tom Boy”, but a boy behaving like a girl was called a “Macoumere fam”. Today, however, the sophistry of language has made those hitherto bitter descriptions more palatable. Back in my day as a boy, we would hide in a corner and ask, quietly: “Dey say dat man like little boys. You believe dat man boolin’ for true?” Today, the question being asked on radio, TV and the Internet is: “Are we a homophobic society?”
So then, are we a homophobic society? Of course we are – if I understand the word. No one is challenging the claim that at least three St. Lucian men were killed in as many years because of their sexual preference. We know how we think about “same-sex” sex. We know how men exhibiting feminine features are treated in our society, where it’s more difficult to assume that a woman is gay.
21 March 2011 – PinkNews
Caribbean island St Lucia apologises for attack on gay tourists
by Jessica Geen
St Lucia has apologised to three gay men who were robbed in what they say was a homophobic attack. The Caribbean island’s government said it was “saddened” by the incident and extended “sincere apologies” to Todd Wiggins, Michael Baker and Nick Smith of Atlanta.
The trio were on holiday on the island earlier this month when a masked gang broke into their villa and robbed them of 5,000 East Caribbean dollars (£1,137) and personal items. One of the men was treated in hospital for minor injuries.
After the attack, Mr Baker told the GA Voice that the attackers had used anti-gay slurs and threatened to kill them. Mr Wiggins said he believed the violence was worse because the gang thought they were gay. The statement from the St Lucia government said: “St Lucia does not condone such acts of violence [that] appeared to be perpetrated by individuals whose views do not reflect sentiments of the majority of law-abiding citizens.
“Whether or not this crime was motivated by anti-gay sentiment, or during the course of robbery, it is nonetheless unacceptable behaviour and our destination will not tolerate it. Our law enforcement authorities are pursuing this matter relentlessly.” One man is being held in custody in connection with the incident, police said.
Homosexuality is illegal in St Lucia.
27 June, 2011 – HTS Channel 4
Homosexuality in Schools [Video]
There is nothing wrong with including discussions on homosexuality as part of sex education in schools, so says Education Minister Arsene James. The Minister was responding to calls for discussions on the topic to be included in the sex education curriculum to help student’s grapple with issues of sexuality. Former Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Stephen King and the National Aids Program Secretariat have also supported the call. However it has been fiercely opposed by some quarters.