Last edited: December 06, 2004

Britain Orders Colonies to Legalize Gay Sex

By Paul Johnson, International News Editor

November 12, London – The British government, angered it’s colonies have ignored pressure to decriminalize gay sex, is set to issue an Order in Council forcing them to comply.

The move is expected to enrage its Caribbean territories which have put up the fiercest opposition.

The Order in Council which overides colonial legislatures, is expected before Christmas. It will legalise private, consensual gay sex between adults in Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands, the Cayman Islands, Montserrat, and the Turks and Caicos Islands.

Baroness Scotland, the Foreign Office minister responsible, said she had tried to encourage each territory to pass the necessary legislation themselves. The Foreign Office did not want to create a situation similar to the Order in Council that established the Stamp Act which led to the Boston Tea Party and subsequently the American Revolution.

But when asked to enact the law, Lady Scotland said they refused.

Jenny Tonge, the Liberal Democrat MP who has been campaigning for the colonies to change their laws, applauded the move. "The Government gave the Overseas Territories the chance to change the law themselves but they have not. It is vital we keep up pressure to ensure the government proceeds with the Order as a matter of urgency."

The Government’s decision to act was also welcomed by British gay rights group Stonewall. Executive director Angela Mason said : "This is a very welcome initiative. Equality before the law is a basic human right wherever you live. We are delighted the Government is taking these rights seriously."

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