“High Court Decriminalizes Buggery and Related Offences Between Consenting Adults in Private”
Basseterre, St Kitts, August 29, 2022:- Today, August 29, 2022, the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court delivered a judgment decriminalizing certain consensual sexual conduct between adults (18 years and older) in private in St Kitts & Nevis.
The judgment, delivered by His Lordship Mr Justice Trevor Ward, Q.C., arose from a constitutional motion filed in January 2021 by Jamal Jeffers, a citizen of the Federation, and the St Kitts & Nevis Alliance or Equality Inc. (SKNAFE) a community-based non-profit organization founded by Tynetta McKoy. The Attorney-General was the named Defendant, as is the requirement in constitutional motions of this nature.
Mr Jeffers and SKNAFE sought declarations that sections 56 and 57 of the Offences Against the Person Act, Cap. 4.21 of the laws of St Kitts & Nevis, contravened sections 3, 7, 12 and 15 of the Constitution and as such were null void and of no force and effect to the extent that they applied to consensual intercourse in private between persons 16 years of age and more.
Prior to the judgment, it was a criminal offence in St Kitts & Nevis to commit “the abominable crime of buggery” and the related offences of “assault with intent to commit” buggery and “indecent assault upon any male person”. These crimes were punishable by imprisonment of a period not exceeding 10 years with or without hard labour. Buggery is defined as anal or oral intercourse by penetration of either sex.
In the judgment, the Court declared that buggery and related crimes referenced in sections 56 and 57 of the Offences Against the Person Act contravene “sections 3 and 12 of the Constitution of the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis, namely, the right to protection of personal privacy and the right to freedom of expression.” Therefore, buggery in St Kitts and Nevis is no longer a crime once it involves “acts constituting consensual sexual conduct in private between adults”.
The Cabinet of the Government of Saint Kitts and Nevis was, today, made aware of the decision. The trial took place on June 10, 2022.