UWI chancellor says anti-buggery legislation has to go

A top University of the West Indies (UWI) official has slammed the continued existence of anti-buggery legislation on the law books of Barbados and other Caribbean states.

Chancellor Sir George Alleyne described some of the laws relating to sexuality as “archaic” lamenting that Caribbean societies have yet to come to terms with “enormous variations in the manner in which that sexuality and the sexual urges  are expressed.”

“Some of our pertinent laws are archaic in this respect and I say often that it is with a sense of some sorrow that I admit, for example, that the only countries in this hemisphere in which sex between consenting males is a criminal offense are to be found in our Caribbean,” he said.

“It is even sadder to admit that the laws are a reflection of thinking in societies, which have proudly embraced constitutions which speak clearly to the observance of basic human rights.”

His comments last night during the 60th anniversary jubilee cocktail reception of the Barbados Family Planning Association (BFPA), came as UWI continues to face pressure over the firing of the director of the Regional Coordinating Unit of the Caribbean HIV/Training (CHART) Network over a court testimony he gave in a case involving a man who was challenging Belize’s anti-sodomy law.

While he did not make mention of that issue, the university official lauded the UWI on its recent affirmation, in the “face of strident and hostile opposition”, that criminalization of consensual sex between males resulting in stigmatization is a denial of their human rights.

At the same time, he said, there are still some challenges for the BFPA, including on the issue of population growth and sexuality.

“The issue of sexuality cannot be avoided and is likely to be as thorny as the issue of contraceptives was 60 years ago,” he said, while urging “careful attention to population dynamics, given that our island has no room to expand.”

“It is debated whether demography is destiny, but the change in the fertility rate and the reduction in the rise in population are correctly associated with the country’s ability to provide the social services which have underpinned Barbados’ progress in human development,” Sir George said.

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