Privy Council dominates Caribbean LGBTQIA+ people

Privy Council dominates Caribbean LGBTQIA+ people VP 250 x 200

(Colours Caribbean): The UK Privy Council, made up of UK Supreme Court justices, continues to enable the oppression of LGBTQIA+ people in the Caribbean by overturning progressive lower court decisions and upholding the enforceability and constitutionality of the anti-LGBTQIA+ laws in those states (most of which were introduced by the UK).

Five British judges from the UK Privy Council (the Privy Council) are currently visiting the Cayman Islands and were welcomed with a special opening ceremony of the Grand Court in the Halls of Justice. However, it is worth examining the role that the Privy Council has played and continues to play in the Caribbean with respect to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex or asexual (LGBTQIA+) people.

In short, the Privy Council continues to enable the oppression of LGBTQIA+ people in the Caribbean by upholding the Colonial Era laws imposed centuries ago by the British Empire and by hindering or outright reversing any progress made to rectify them by the local courts of the Caribbean. Caribbean.

A recent report explores how pre-colonial historical studies indicate that people in the Caribbean region, who today generally identify as LGBTQIA+, were not repressed or stigmatized by some pre-colonial cultures, but were instead positively valued by them. This attitude of acceptance “ran head-on with the culture and legislation of the colonizing countries which, throughout European history, had become brutal and sadistic with [LGBTQIA+] people”.

Thus, and contrary to popular belief, the phenomena of segregation and criminalization of LGBTQIA+ people in the Anglophone Caribbean are a direct consequence of the laws of the Colonial Era exported to the region by the British Empire.

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Those Colonial Era laws are precisely the ones that former British Prime Minister Theresa May offered an apology in 2018: “These laws were often implemented by my own country. They were wrong then and they are wrong now. As Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, I deeply regret both the fact that such laws were introduced and the legacy of discrimination, violence and even death that persists today.”

In this context, the Justices of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom (SCUK), who also serve as members of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (JCPC), recently determined that the constitutions of Bermuda and the Cayman Islands, enacted by the United Kingdom United Parliament, do not demand the legalization of same-sex marriage and that equality for LGBTQIA+ people is not a constitutional requirement.

In Trinidad and Tobago, the Privy Council reiterated its 2004 decision in (Boyce v. The Queen, 2004, et al) that all colonial laws are immune from constitutional challenge, no matter how inhumane or degrading they may be, thus facilitating constitutionality. of colonial laws that criminalize and discriminate against LGBTQIA+ people.

The argument that the Privy Council “simply applies the law” fails when it is recognized that it had competing authoritative options for possible outcomes in all three cases, but preferred approaches that are detrimental to the basic human rights of a vulnerable and disenfranchised minority. from the Caribbean. .

In the absence of an explanation for those choices, the Privy Council demonstrated homophobic and racist political leanings in all three of these cases. This is particularly revealed in the case of Bermuda.

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In Bermuda, the majority not only reversed the decision of all judges in the jurisdiction who believed the constitution provides “equality for all”, including LGBTQIA+ people, arguing that the UK Parliament failed to pass a constitution for Bermuda that allowed him to be exposed to protect this minority, but more disturbingly, the Privy Council reversed decades of case law precedent and imposed costs on LGBTQIA+ respondents in Bermuda.

While denying equality for all before the law may have a distorted legal justification, there is no legal explanation for why the Privy Council would assign costs to the defendant, particularly after the Bermuda government dragged the LGBTQIA+ defendant to the Privy Council after The Bermuda government lost on all counts in the Bermuda courts.

The Privy Council has not bothered to explain the departure from its own precedent in the Bermuda case.


It is crucial to understand that the Privy Council decisions are not the result of UK judges refraining from intervening, but actively halting and reversing judicial progress regarding LGBTQIA+ rights delivered by local Caribbean judges over the past 20 years.

The Privy Council is the last remnant of British colonialism that maintains effective imperial power, regardless of the supposed independence of the jurisdictions and in 2022, is responsible for hindering the progress of human rights in the region without recourse to the US regional system of rights humans.

No higher court in the Americas has so consistently denied LGBTQIA+ people the ability to assert and promote their rights under their constitutions in modern times as the British Privy Council is doing, and it is for these many reasons why Colors Caribbean does not welcome the Privy Council. to the Cayman Islands.

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