Lack of laws in Antigua to allow people to change their gender identity -U.S report

The content originally appeared on: Antigua News Room

The U.S Department of State’s Human Rights Report on Antigua and Barbuda has brought to the forefront a critical issue regarding the country’s legal framework and human rights protections, particularly concerning LGBTQI+ individuals.

Despite significant strides in global LGBTQI+ rights, Antigua and Barbuda’s failure to amend its anti-buggery laws, following a court ruling deeming certain sections unconstitutional in 2022, remains a contentious and pressing issue.

The report’s detailed examination reveals the complexity and challenges faced by LGBTQI+ individuals in the country. It underscores the legal ambiguity and societal attitudes that continue to hinder progress towards equality and inclusion.

Background: Anti-Buggery Laws and Court Ruling

The report highlights that sections of the law criminalizing certain sexual activities between same-sex consenting adults were declared unconstitutional by the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in 2022.

Specifically, sodomy and consensual same-sex sexual conduct were criminalized under indecency statutes, with severe penalties of up to 15 years’ imprisonment for sodomy and five years’ imprisonment for same-sex sexual conduct.

Despite the court’s ruling, the law has not been amended, leading to ongoing legal ambiguity and challenges for LGBTQI+ individuals in Antigua and Barbuda.

While enforcement of these laws is reported to be limited, their existence perpetuates stigma and discrimination against LGBTQI+ persons.


The existence of anti-buggery laws fosters a climate of fear and discrimination, even if not actively enforced. LGBTQI+ individuals face societal prejudices, limited legal protections, and barriers to full participation in society. The lack of legal recognition for LGBTQI+ couples and families further exacerbates these challenges, denying them rights equal to other citizens.

The report notes that LGBTQI+ persons also encounter difficulties in finding employment due to discrimination by both state and non-state actors.

This discrimination not only affects individuals’ economic well-being but also contributes to broader social exclusion and marginalization.

Legal Recognition and Gender Identity

Another aspect highlighted in the report is the absence of legal processes for individuals to change their gender identity marker on legal documents.

This lack of legal recognition and support for gender diversity further compounds the challenges faced by transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals in Antigua and Barbuda.

While the report acknowledges a reduction in antagonistic behavior towards LGBTQI+ persons following the court ruling, significant challenges persist. The failure to amend the anti-buggery laws represents a significant hurdle in advancing LGBTQI+ rights and addressing discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression.

Moreover, the report underscores that the law’s mere existence fosters stigma and discrimination, impacting the well-being and rights of LGBTQI+ individuals. The lack of legal protections and recognition contributes to a climate of inequality and exclusion, hindering progress towards a more inclusive and equitable society.


The report emphasizes the importance of aligning national laws and practices with international human rights standards, including those related to LGBTQI+ rights. It calls for legal reforms to ensure equal rights and protections for all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression.

International organizations and advocates have also highlighted the need for comprehensive legal reforms and societal acceptance to address discrimination and promote LGBTQI+ rights in Antigua and Barbuda. These efforts are essential for creating an environment where LGBTQI+ individuals can live free from discrimination, violence, and stigma.


In conclusion, Antigua and Barbuda’s failure to amend its anti-buggery laws despite a court ruling represents a significant challenge to LGBTQI+ rights and human rights more broadly. The persistence of discriminatory laws and societal attitudes hinders progress towards equality, inclusion, and respect for diversity. Addressing these challenges requires legal reforms, social acceptance, and concerted efforts to uphold the rights and dignity of all individuals, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression.

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