Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Strikes Down Anti-Buggery Law

(CMC) – The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court on Monday upheld a motion by a self-described gay man challenging the constitutionality of sections of the Offences Against the Person Act which criminalise buggery.

Jamal Jeffers, a citizen of St Kitts-Nevis had in a motion dated January 28, 2021, sought declarations that sections 56 and section 57 of the Act contravene the constitutional rights enshrined in sections 3, 7, 12 and 15 of the Constitution of the twin island Federation.

Jeffers and his legal team, St Kitts & Nevis Alliance INC, argued that as a result, those sections of the of the Offences Against the Person Act are null and void and of no force and effect to the extent that it applies to consensual sexual intercourse in private between persons 16 years of age or more.

In its ruling, the Court granted declarations paving the way for consenting male adults in St Kitts & Nevis to engage in sexual acts in private without facing criminalisation.

“The court cannot shirk from its duty to interpret the Constitution and to uphold its provisions without fear or favour. The court is empowered by the modification clause in Schedule 2 to construe existing laws that are unconstitutional to bring them into conformity with the Constitution,” said High Court judge, Justice Trevor M Ward.

“It is similarly mandated by section 2 of the Constitution to void any law that is inconsistent with the Constitution to the extent of its inconsistency. This is a clear mandate to the court to be proactive in its guardianship of the Constitution unless it cannot do so without usurping the role of the legislature.”

The judge said that the state had “advanced no cogent argument that modification of the impugned provisions would constitute a usurpation of parliament’s role”.