The region which legislates who you can love

By Gemma Handy
St John’s, Antigua

“It’s mainly snide remarks due to toxic masculinity,” Aziza Lake says. But homophobia in Antigua and Barbuda sometimes manifests itself in sporadic brutality too, she continues.

In her rainbow-coloured shirt and hat, seated outside a popular café in the capital, St John’s, she might consider herself lucky compared to her openly gay counterparts in neighbouring Caribbean nations.

LGBT people in the Eastern Caribbean described being stabbed, beaten, choked and pelted with bottles and bricks in a 2018 Human Rights Watch report.

Now the region which Time magazine dubbed in 2006 as “the most homophobic place on Earth” is the scene of a major battle to overturn British colonial-era laws that ban same-sex intimacy.

The Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality (ECADE) is in the throes of legal challenges in five countries that still outlaw “buggery” and “indecency”, effectively criminalising gay people.

Antigua and Barbuda, St Lucia, Grenada, Barbados, and St Kitts and Nevis all have versions of statutes that prohibit same-sex acts between consenting adults.

In Barbados, loving the wrong person could see you thrown behind bars for life, at least technically.

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