The Caribbean

The Caribbean

The Caribbean region is home to some of the most oppressive anti-gay laws in the world. Its history as a British colony has left it with a legacy of stigma and discrimination that lingers even after the countries achieved independence. This legacy creates an environment where LGBTQ people are persecuted, threatened and sometimes forced to leave their home countries to seek asylum elsewhere.

Legal and constitutional reforms are desperately needed in order to safeguard the health and wellbeing of LGBTQ people across the Caribbean. So, too, is attitudinal change, including from certain institutions and influential leaders who continue to spread stigma and discrimination. The Legal Network, via our in-house Caribbean expert and in collaboration with our in-country partners, is actively working to challenge these discriminatory laws and make the region safe for all.


Intimate Conviction: Examining the Church and Anti-Sodomy Laws across the Commonwealth

  In October 2017, The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and Anglicans for Decriminalization hosted a two-day conference examining the role of the Church in anti-sodomy laws across the Commonwealth. The conference, Intimate Conviction, was a groundbreaking gathering that brought together activists, church officials, and politicians from around the world for an inspiring discussion. Now, to […]

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Raise Your Voice: Annual Report 2017-2018

Highlights of our work in Canada and around the world from April 1, 2017, to March 31, 2018.

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Statement: Jamaican Court of Appeal Gives Human Rights a Back Seat

November 9, 2018 — “After a nearly two-year delay, the constitutional challenge to Jamaica’s anti-sodomy law looks set to finally restart. The case was effectively suspended while the Jamaican Supreme Court waited for the Court of Appeal to decide whether the Public Defender could join the matter as an interested party. In a heavily criticized […]

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Intimate Conviction launch – Toronto

Join us on November 5 for an event to celebrate the launch of our book, Intimate Conviction: Examining the Church and Anti-Sodomy Laws Across the Commonwealth. This volume contains the texts of some of the presentations from our groundbreaking summit held in Jamaica last year. The event will feature speakers, food and lively conversations about the […]

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Religious leaders call on governments across the Caribbean to repeal anti-LGBT laws

KINGSTON, Jamaica October 4, 2018 — Laws that criminalize consensual same-sex intimacy exist in a majority of Commonwealth countries, an unwelcome holdover from colonization — despite the fact that such laws have been long since repealed in the United Kingdom. But repealing these laws has proven difficult in some countries as they continue to be […]

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Media advisory: Groundbreaking Intimate Conviction volume demonstrates commitment of global faith leaders to LGBTQ rights

Kingston, Jamaica October 2, 2018 — One year after the groundbreaking “Intimate Conviction” conference, which examined the role of the church in establishing and maintaining anti-gay laws in Commonwealth countries, an edited volume of some of the conference presentations is now available. Being launched in Kingston, the volume will serve as an important tool to […]

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Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network in the Caribbean

Why the Caribbean? And why LGBTI human rights? As a region, the Caribbean has the second-highest HIV prevalence rate in the world, after sub-Saharan Africa. UNAIDS and regional and national agencies have identified homophobia as a factor contributing to this troubling statistic. In numerous countries, particularly the Commonwealth Caribbean, the criminalization of consensual same-sex relationships […]

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Legal Network submissions to 48th OAS General Assembly

From June 3-5, 2018 the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network participated in the 48th General Assembly (GA) of the Organization of American States (OAS) held in Washington D.C. Unlike most other OAS GAs, there was no central theme for the this gathering and so many issues were open for discussion.  The Legal Network therefore collaborated with other civil society organizations working on similar issues, including LGBTI human rights, sex worker rights, drug use […]

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OAS Resolution on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression – Ten Years On

By Maurice Tomlinson, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network Maurice Tomlinson presenting the IACHR Rapporteur on LGBTI people, Flavia Piovesan, with a copy of our work in the Caribbean On June 5, the 48th General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) adopted another annual resolution on Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Expression.  […]

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Barbados Challenge Q&A

Three Barbadians — a trans woman, a lesbian and a gay man — have filed a petition against Barbados before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) challenging  laws criminalizing “buggery” and other intimacy between consenting partners, including partners of the same-sex, as violating numerous rights guaranteed in the American Convention on Human Rights. This […]

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News release: Challenge launched against two sections of Barbados’ discriminatory sexual offences act

Three Barbadians — a trans woman, a lesbian and a gay man — are filing today a petition against Barbados before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) challenging laws criminalising “buggery” and other intimacy between consenting partners, including same-sex partners, as violating numerous rights guaranteed in the American Convention on Human Rights. The IACHR […]

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Media advisory: Launch of challenge to Barbadian laws criminalizing LGBTQ people

Three Barbadians — a trans woman, a lesbian and a gay man — will file a petition against Barbados on June 6 before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) challenging laws criminalizing “buggery” and other intimacy between consenting partners, including same-sex partners, as violating numerous rights guaranteed in the American Convention on Human Rights.

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Statement: High Court of Trinidad and Tobago strikes down longstanding buggery law

Today, in an historic decision, the High Court of Trinidad and Tobago has struck down as unconstitutional the longstanding, homophobic “buggery” law, most often used to criminalize same-sex intimacy between consenting adults. The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network is thrilled to congratulate our friends, colleagues and fellow activists, all of whom have worked tirelessly for this […]

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Barbados police must take action to protect Trans activist

The following blog post contains images and descriptions of violence against LGBTQI people which may be upsetting. By Maurice Tomlinson, Senior Policy Analyst The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network joins Barbadian organizations and individuals in calling for immediate police action in the recent savage attack against local transgender activist Alexa Hoffmann. On the morning of Sunday, […]

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A Global Reaction to Stop the Spread of Hate

Thanks to the work of local activists, supported by the voices of people and organizations—including the Legal Network—opposed to hate in all its forms, an American hate-preacher was prevented from spreading his murderous message in Jamaica. Initially, it looked as if the efforts would be for naught. Steven Anderson, an American extremist Christian “pastor” who […]

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Open letter to the Government of Jamaica

Individuals and organizations working to help Jamaica achieve its domestic and international human rights obligations are sending an open letter to the Government of Jamaica, asking them to bar American preacher Steven Anderson from entering the country. Anderson has a record of making anti-LGBTQI, anti-women and anti-Semitic comments. His organization, the Faithful Word Baptist Church, has […]

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One Week in Jamaica: Celebrating LGBTQI lives and local leadership

Maurice Tomlinson’s 2017 Montego Bay Pride video diary In October, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network helped launch Intimate Conviction, a two-day international conference examining the Church and anti-gay laws across the Commonwealth, and supported a new generation of local LGBTQI leaders to organize the third successful Montego Bay Pride, with more than 850 people participating. […]

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Montego Bay Pride 2017: “Pride is where I can be free and truly express myself without fear”

By Maurice Tomlinson, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network October 24, 2017 For the third year in a row the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network collaborated with local and international partners to host a successful and incident-free Montego Bay Pride! Starting with about 150 participants in 2015, Montego Bay Pride expanded to over 300 people […]

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LGBTQI Jamaicans paint a bridge to the police

By Maurice Tomlinson, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network October 19, 2017 In 2010, I received an email from a stranger who promised to kill me if I continued to advocate for LGBTQI human rights in Jamaica. I was urged to go to the police and make a report — the first time I […]

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Urgent Action Needed To Save OAS LGBTQI Human Rights Resolution

By Maurice Tomlinson, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network June 21, 2017 Without urgent action by the Government of Canada and other countries supportive of fundamental human rights, protections for LGBTQI people across the western hemisphere are about to be set back by a decade. This is because a very unfortunate precedent is likely […]

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21st Century Magic! Gratitude and an Unforgettable Experience at Montego Bay Pride

The following blog post was written by Andrew Beckerman, a long-term HIV survivor and an active board member of the Legal Network since 2014. “I didn’t always believe in magic, but I am starting to believe. My epiphany came as a result of the inspiring and incredible work being done by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal […]

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Montego Bay, Jamaica: Another Pride success!

By Maurice Tomlinson, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network October 24, 2016 How do you measure an event’s success? Is it the number of participants compared to previous events? Montego Bay Pride 2016, co-sponsored by the Legal Network, had over 244 participants — a 50% increase in participation from last year — with participants […]

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Caleb’s victory for the Commonwealth

By Maurice Tomlinson, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network August 16, 2016 When Caleb Orozco, whom I met at an Organization of American States General Assembly in Panama in 2007, decided to be the claimant in a challenge to the Belize anti-sodomy law, I was elated but a bit nervous for him. Belize is […]

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Game-Changer: Belize Supreme Court Strikes Down Anti-LGBTI Law

The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network applauds yesterday’s landmark decision from the Supreme Court of Belize, which overturned the country’s archaic law prohibiting “carnal intercourse against the order of nature,” setting a precedent for LGBTI human rights that we hope will ripple across the region.

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Jamaican Supreme Court Admits Religious Groups as Interested Parties in Challenge to Anti-Sodomy Law

TORONTO, July 8, 2016 — The Jamaican Supreme Court on July 6 handed down its ruling on applications by nine religious groups and the Public Defender to be interested parties in a challenge by Jamaican lawyer Maurice Tomlinson to the country’s anti-sodomy law. All the groups except the Public Defender were allowed in the case with […]

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Losing to win at the Caribbean Court of Justice

By Maurice Tomlinson, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network June 15, 2016 On June 10, 2016, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) delivered a landmark, but decidedly mixed, decision on the rights of LGBTI people. Three years ago, as a gay Jamaican citizen, and with the support of AIDS-Free World, I launched a challenge […]

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Decriminalizing Homosexuality: The cases of Canada and Jamaica

By Maurice Tomlinson, Senior Policy Analyst, Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network March 4, 2016 Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently indicated that he will posthumously pardon George Klippert for engaging in consensual sodomy. Klippert’s 1965 conviction under the British imposed anti-gay law and his subsequent sentence as a sex offender led to a public outcry that […]

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Jamaican Gay Activist Challenges TV Stations In Court

February 1, 2016 — Today the Jamaican Court of Appeal will begin hearing a landmark case brought forward by Jamaican attorney and human rights activist, Maurice Tomlinson. The case is challenging national television stations that refused to air a “tolerance ad” promoting respect for the human rights of LGBTI people. The original hearing set for July 22–24, 2015, […]

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Dignity and liberty for all: Why Jamaica’s sodomy law must go

December 9, 2015 Please note, an abbreviated version of this commentary was published earlier today by The Jamaica Gleaner under the headline “Why the sodomy law must go“. On December 10, 2015, International Human Rights Day, a new constitutional challenge to the Jamaican anti-sodomy law is being launched in Kingston. This outdated holdover from the […]

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Constitutional challenge to Jamaica’s anti-sodomy law: Questions & Answers

Jamaican human rights activist Maurice Tomlinson has filed a claim in the Jamaican Supreme Court of Judicature, challenging the country’s laws criminalizing “buggery” and other consensual sex between men as violating numerous rights guaranteed in Jamaica’s constitution. This backgrounder answers some key questions related to this constitutional challenge. Related news release: Jamaican Gay Activist Launches Constitutional […]

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Jamaican Gay Activist Launches Constitutional Challenge

TORONTO, December 9, 2015 — Jamaican human rights activist Maurice Tomlinson has filed a claim in the Supreme Court of Judicature, challenging the constitutionality of Jamaica’s laws criminalizing consensual sex between men. The legal challenge — which will be announced at a press conference tomorrow in Kingston, Jamaica — is being supported by the Canadian […]

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Increasing the visibility of LGBTI people and their rights in the Caribbean

December 4, 2015 Two separate, but related events supported by the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network took place in the Caribbean last week: Police LGBTI Sensitization Training in Antigua and Barbuda from November 24–27 and the launch of the Barbados Pride Committee in Barbados on November 28 and 29. The police training in Antigua was facilitated […]

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Love and Respect: Q&A on Jamaican TV ad court case

  In 2012, Jamaican human rights activists and AIDS-Free World produced “Love and Respect,” a short, 30-second video advertisement calling for respect for the basic human rights of Jamaican LGBTI people. However, television stations in Jamaica refused to air it as a paid advertisement. prompting this legal proceeding. Jamaican human rights activist, Maurice Tomlinson, is pursuing […]

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Letter to Hon. Mark Golding, Jamaica’s Minister of Justice re: Review of Sexual Offences Act

“We are deeply concerned about the continued criminalization of consensual sexual relationships between adult men in Jamaica and the stigmatization, marginalization and violence that it helps perpetuate. Our concern has intensified in recent years in light of a seeming surge in virulent expressions of hatred, up to and including mob assaults, torture and murder, directed […]

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