Britain Scraps Homosexuality Laws
Associated Press, January 5, 2001
By Marcelo Ballve
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico Britain has scrapped laws making
homosexuality a crime in its five Caribbean territories, acting after legislatures refused
to do so.
Londons move angered religious leaders, who say homosexuality is immoral and goes
against the grain of the deeply religious and socially conservative islands.
"This is totally unacceptable to the minds of the Christian community here,"
the Rev. Nicholas Sykes, chief pastor of the Church of England in the Cayman Islands, said
The order from the British Privy Council, which acts as the highest court for the
territories, decriminalizes homosexual acts between consenting adults in private. The
order went into effect this week and applies to Anguilla, the Cayman Islands, the British
Virgin Islands, Montserrat and the Turks and Caicos.
Britains government said the anti-gay laws violate international human rights
agreements it has signed. Britain has the power to unilaterally revoke the statutes, but
had attempted for years to persuade local politicians to repeal the laws in island
Religious leaders and local politicians said the disagreement over homosexuality
reveals a widening cultural rift between what they condemned as an increasingly atheist
Britain and its faraway Caribbean possessions.
The territories could opt for independence. But they do not appear to consider a break
from the United Kingdom a serious option and appeared resigned to following the order.
"There is nothing we can do about it," said Orlando Smith, a legislator in
the British Virgin Islands.