Saint Lucia's constitution provides for protection of fundamental rights and freedoms for all persons. Yet it is among the Anglo-Caribbean countries with colonial era laws criminalising homosexual relations (Criminal Code, sections 132, 133). Nevertheless, the LGBTI community is not without legal protection. The Labour Code, section 131, speaks to unfair dismissal on the grounds of sexual orientation. Police have recently engaged officers at every level in a sensitisation exercise, including LGBTI human rights.
United and Strong (U&S) is a leading LGBTI organisation in the eastern Caribbean, housing CariFLAGS eastern hub and ILGA Women’s Secretariat. In 2009, U&S ED Kenita Placide and others made presentations to the Constitution Reform Commission supporting expansion of non-discrimination laws to include sexual orientation, gender identity and health status and to repeal the buggery and gross indecency laws. Then-Prime Minister Stephenson King made a commitment to legislative reform, yet it remains stalled.
Keywords: United and Strong; Gay; Family; Stigma; Discrimination; Law; Political Context; Police; Employment.
Bary: “It’s not that I don’t enjoy myself. But I cannot express myself, there’s a difference between enjoying yourself and expressing yourself.”
Synopsis: Bary Hunte is a member of United and Strong, and an openly gay police officer. He speaks about fighting homophobia in both his personal and professional life. He speaks about stigma that he experienced during police training school, citing incidents where people left the bathroom when he entered, because he was identified as gay. Labeled the ‘black sheep’ of the family, Bary talks about how being ‘out’ as a gay man affected his relation with family members - certain family relationships broke down, while other relationships have grown stronger out of understanding and respect.
Keywords: Sexual Orientation; Gender Identity; Heteronormativity; Stigma; Family; Religion; Rape; Police.
Vincent: “Society imposed my sexuality on me…I don’t consider myself homosexual. I don’t consider myself heterosexual. I am sexual, point blank.”
Synopsis: As an actor, fashion icon, writer and ‘Top Model’ judge, Vincent McDoom continues to impact the European fashion scene, cultivating his androgynous style in the world’s hottest designer fashion. In 2002, he charged his uncle Matthew Roberts, speaker of Saint Lucia's House of Assembly, with raping him repeatedly when Vincent was a minor. Roberts resigned his public position in 2003. Vincent continues to be very vocal. He opens up about the difficulties he experienced growing up in a society that saw his sexuality was ‘different’, and having heteronormativity imposed on him by society from a young age. After going through a period of identity suppression informed by society, family, and religion, Vincent explains that he decided to define his identity himself rather than by society.
Keywords: United and Strong; Social Movement Organizing; Stigma; Health and Mental Health; Employment; Discrimination; Human Rights; Activism; Violence.
Kenita: “They are OK speaking about men sleeping with men and HIV, which is the health component. They are not willing to speak about the sexual orientation and gender identity as a rights issue.”
Synopsis: Executive Director of United and Strong, Kenita Placide speaks to some of the challenges of highlighting abuse and discrimination in St. Lucia through the courts. There is a climate of fear, in which victims and witnesses are not ready to come to the court. Kenita says that what is needed in St. Lucia is for society to see beyond ignorance, and that this will only happen through advocacy and action, not through waiting for society to give acceptance and rights.