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Saint Vincent court rejects challenge to colonial-era anti-gay laws

17/2/2024 18:44
        The top court in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines dismissed a challenge to anti-gay laws dating to British colonial rule on Friday, leaving the Caribbean country among a handful that still prescribes harsh criminal penalties against gays and lesbians.
        
        The challenge was brought by Javin Johnson and Sean Macleish, two gay men who had pushed to decriminalize same-sex relations, arguing they were forced to leave the socially conservative country due to their sexual orientation.
        
        Local laws call for up to ten years incarceration for anyone who has same-sex relations, under a 1988 criminal code that upheld laws from the colonial era.
        In her ruling, Judge Esco Henry held that Johnson and Macleish did not have the standing to challenge the laws since they do not live in the country. She also described as reasonable the concern that "an un-stemmed deluge of new HIV cases" could overwhelm the health system if the laws were overturned.
        
        The judge further ordered the two men to pay nearly $3,000 to the Attorney General's office, one of the defendants in the case.
        



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