Source: Antigua Observer
ST JOHN’S, Antigua – A number of representatives at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, yesterday recommended that Antigua & Barbuda do away with its anti-buggery law.
The recommendations came following Attorney General Justin Simon’s presentation of the country’s human rights policies. As expected, there were several questions and recommendations raised with many focused on the anti-buggery law.
US representative Charles Blaha said homosexuality should be decriminalised, and he also urged the twin-island state to condemn human rights violations based on sexuality.
“We urge Antigua & Barbuda to decriminalise homosexual conduct by reforming the penal code so that for the purposes of prosecution, gross indecency would not apply to private acts between consenting adults,” the US representative said.
“We (also) urge Antigua & Barbuda to condemn acts of violence and human rights violations committed against persons because of their sexual orientation or gender identity and to ensure adequate protection for those human rights defenders who work on the rights of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) persons,” Blaha added.
The US representative at the UN said discrimination against the LGBT community remains a major concern of the US.
“The criminisalation of homosexual conduct exacerbates homophobic attitudes in the general population and prevents LGBT persons from fully participating in society and taking advantage of opportunities afforded to all other Antiguans,” Blaha said.
Simon also came under pressure on the LGBT matter from other representatives including Spain’s Manuel Alhama Orenes.
“We recommend the adoption of political and legislative measures to set up a specific framework for the protection of discrimination on the grounds of sexual discrimination as well as the striking of legal provisions that criminalise consensual same-sex adult relationships. In a similar vein, we recommend the implementation of public awareness raising campaigns in this area,” Orenes said.
In response, the attorney general, who is a strong proponent of the buggery law, said he does not believe the proposal would receive the support of residents right now. However, he said public opinion could change.
“There is a certain amount of public acceptance, it’s rather acceptance in a rather silent way, but we do not believe that at this stage that we do have the political mandate in respect of changing the laws notwithstanding the fact that the enforcement of those laws are not actively sought,” Simon said.
“The government will continue with its efforts in respect of education and information to ensure that at some later date, that public opinion in respect of this particular matter would certainly adopt the international standards,” Simon added.
Thirty-one country delegates intervened following the presentation of the opening statement by the attorney general on the Human Rights National Report to the Working Group of the Universal Periodic Review in Geneva on Tuesday morning.
By OBSERVER News – Thursday, October 6th, 2011.