LGBT rights in Antigua and Barbuda

Unenforced law LGBT rights by country or territory LGBT rights in the Commonwealth of Nations

Antigua and Barbuda in its region (zoomed).svg
PenaltyUp to 15 years' imprisonment (not enforced)
Gender identityNo
Discrimination protectionsNone
Family rights
Recognition of relationshipsNo recognition of same-sex relationships

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Antigua and Barbuda face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT citizens. The Penal Code makes same-sex acts illegal with a punishment up to 15 years in prison, but the law is not enforced. It also does not address discrimination or harassment on account of sexual orientation or gender identity, nor does it recognize same-sex unions in any form, whether it be marriage or partnerships. Household headed by same-sex couples are not eligible for any of the same rights given to opposite-sex married couples.

Legality of same-sex sexual activity

Recognition of same-sex unions in the Lesser Antilles
  Same-sex marriage
  Other type of partnership
  Unregistered cohabitation
  No recognition of same-sex couples
  Constitutional ban on same-sex marriage
  Same-sex sexual activity illegal but penalties not enforced
  Island subject to IACHR ruling, penalty not enforced

Two sections of the Sexual Offences Act, 1995 relate to same-sex sexual acts:

Section 12. (1) A person who commits buggery is guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment -

(a) for life, if committed by an adult on a minor;
(b) for fifteen years, if committed by an adult on another adult;
(c) for five years, if committed by a minor.

(2) In this section "buggery" means sexual intercourse per anum by a male person with a male person....[1]

Section 15. (1) A person who commits an act of serious indecency on or towards another is guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment -

(a) for ten years, if committed on or towards a minor under sixteen years of age;
(b) for five years, if committed an or towards a person sixteen years of age of more....

* * * *

(3) An act of "serious indecency" is an act, other than sexual intercourse (whether natural or unnatural), by a person involving the use of the genital organ for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire.[1]

"Repeat Offenders" of buggery also get placed on the Sex Offenders Register for the remainder of their life.[2]

In May 2016, during the United Nations Human Rights Council's Universal Periodic Review, representatives from Argentina, Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Nicaragua advised the Government to repeal the sodomy ban and guarantee full human rights to vulnerable groups such as the LGBT community.[3] Minister of Social Transformation, Samantha Marshall, subsequently announced that the sodomy ban is antiquated and should be repealed.[4][5] Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Legal Affairs Maureen Payne-Hyman assured the Council that the LGBT community is not persecuted in the country.[3]

On 24 August 2016, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda announced that it has no intentions of repealing the country's sodomy ban. The announcement came after the Belize Supreme Court struck down Belize's sodomy ban as unconstitutional. However, it acknowledged that, because Belize and Antigua and Barbuda have an identical jurisprudence, if an interest group filed a lawsuit against the law in court, then it would most certainly be declared unconstitutional.[4][6] On 1 November 2019, the Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality announced it planned to launch a legal challenge against the ban by the end of 2019.[7][8]

Summary table

Same-sex sexual activity legal No (Penalty: Up to 15 years imprisonment; not enforced)
Equal age of consent No
Anti-discrimination laws in employment only No
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services No
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (Incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) No
Same-sex marriages No
Recognition of same-sex couples No
Stepchild adoption by same-sex couples No
Joint adoption by same-sex couples No
LGBT people allowed to serve openly in the military No
Right to change legal gender No
Access to IVF for lesbians No
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No
MSMs allowed to donate blood No

See also


  1. ^ a b "Sexual Offences Act" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 January 2017. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  2. ^ Ottosson, Daniel (May 2009). "State-sponsored Homophobia: A world survey of laws prohibiting same sex activity between consenting adults" (PDF). ILGA. p. 13. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  3. ^ a b "Decriminalise homosexual relations, UPR says". Antigua Observer Newspaper. 10 May 2016. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  4. ^ a b "Caribbean: Anti-gay law is ripe for reversal, Antigua says". Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  5. ^ "Minister to recommend decriminalisation of buggery". Antigua Observer Newspaper. 18 May 2016. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  6. ^ "A&B says no to buggery". Antigua Observer Newspaper. 26 August 2016. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  7. ^ Mendos, Lucas Ramon (10 December 2019). "State-Sponsored Homophobia 2019: Global Legislation Overview Update" (PDF). ILGA World. p. 10. Retrieved 1 January 2020.
  8. ^ Aimee, Joshua St. (1 December 2019). "ECADE: 'Draconian' buggery and indecency laws soon to be challenged in court!". The St. Lucia STAR. Retrieved 1 January 2020.