Male-male sexual activity continues to be illegal in eleven Caribbean nations. Female-female sexual activity is illegal in seven. The Caribbean region also has some of the world’s most severe punitive laws relating to homosexuality. The region has the largest collection of countries in the Western Hemisphere that considers every same-sex association illegal. The anti-gay legislation in the English-speaking Caribbean is derived from the British 1861 Offences against the Person Act. The Jamaican law, for example, retains a Victorian flavor. While only 25% of non-Commonwealth countries criminalize same-sex activity, almost 80% of ex-British colonies maintain anti-buggery and anti-sodomy laws.
Jamaican Activist, Dadland Maye says, “The sodomy laws are legislative hate gifts given to Jamaica by its colonial master, England.” But is there a hope for a change? Has the situation improved significantly since 2016, when Belizean gay rights activist Caleb Orozco won his legal challenge to a section of his country’s Criminal Code? Well, yes and no. In a landmark judgment on December 12, 2022, the Supreme Court of Barbados issued an oral ruling that struck down colonial-era laws criminalizing consensual same-sex relations. In the same year, the Antigua and Barbuda High Court of Justice struck down legal provisions that criminalized same-sex relations, St. Kitts and Nevis High Court also ruled that laws criminalizing gay sex are unconstitutional. However, there is still much work to be done in many Caribbean countries.”