Police in Grenada will not charge two men who were engaged in sex in a video circulated on social media recently, despite laws against homosexuality.
The matter was brought to the attention of Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Christopher Nelson by the police after the video went viral and attracted widespread public condemnation.
Under Grenada’s Criminal Code, buggery and unnatural acts are criminal offences but raises questions about the Constitutionality of such laws.
On Thursday, DPP Nelson told THE NEW TODAY he will be advising the police against pursuing criminal charges because to do so would be a violation of Gay Rights and Constitutional rights of the individuals since the video appears to involve two consenting adults.
“In the context of Constitutional Rights and Gay Rights if we pursue charges we will be met with a Constitutional objection that we will not be able to answer,” he said.
“It is on the books but not an area I would advise the police to move on this because Constitutional Law has moved on to render that section of the Law obsolete,” he added.
In an interview with local media on Wednesday, Superintendent of Police, Vannie Curwen who heads the Police Community Relations Department said while the laws are not enforced and may be considered outdated, it is still a crime to engage in homosexual practices.
However, the DPP said the law would be enforced in cases involving children or where one party is being forced by another, which would be rape as defined by the criminal code of Grenada.
“Who are we to get into the bedroom of two consenting adults?”
In a documentary released last week titled “Francesco”, Pope Francis, who has in the past spoke of tolerance for LGBT people said, “Homosexuals have a right to be a part of the family. They’re children of God and have a right to a family. Nobody should be thrown out, or be made miserable because of it.”
While the Pope did not elaborate on the meaning of those remarks in the video, Pope Francis has spoken before to encourage parents and relatives not to ostracise or shun children who have identified as LGBT.
Homosexuality is criminalised in more than 70 countries across the world and in some places penalties include life sentences and even stoning.
Homosexuality remains a criminal offence in most of the English speaking Caribbean and while such laws are not actively enforced in most territories they are often used to justify persecution of people who engage in same sex intimacy.
While there is some growing level of tolerance in Grenadian society regarding homosexuality, the attitude of most is still hostile towards those who engage in such activities.
There is very little advocacy in Grenada by the LGBT community to have such laws struck out and to promote support for civil unions but the decision not to enforce the ancient law against homosexuality may be considered a step forward in Gay Rights in Grenada.
The police issued a statement Wednesday, warning against the public sharing of the video which is illegal under Grenada’s Electronic Crimes Act and punishable by jail time and steep fines.
Kellon Bubb, who is a Grenadian pursuing his PhD in the United States, is a Gay Rights activist.
Bubb also did not see the video leading to criminal charges against the men although Grenada is a deeply anti-gay society.
He said the public reaction to the situation does not come as a surprise.
“I think it’s unfortunate but it’s not surprising that people reacted the way they did because Grenada is still like other Caribbean islands, very homophobic.
“There are people who are tolerant but generally speaking I think the Grenadian population is overly homophobic.
“They seem to get too pre-occupied with sexuality but there are so many other issues. I don’t see them getting as passionate about adultery and child molestation. These things are kept in secret.
According to Bubb, it is time for Gay Rights to be recognised in Grenada but he acknowledged that the political will to do so may be absent.
“It is time (to establish Gay Rights), but I don’t think they would because of the Church. We had a whole Referendum and the question of gender equality came up and was misconstrued as pushing the gay agenda.
“I don’t see, given the attachment to church and faith, that they will change the laws. I don’t think they have the political courage like Mia Motley in Barbados who has spoken out in support of civil unions and I also don’t think, given the composition of the Cabinet, that they would even allow the conversation to come up.”
Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago are the only two countries in the region where the leadership have expressed some level of tolerance for the Gay lifestyle.