At a glance

  • Same-sex relations: illegal
  • Legal gender recognition: not possible
  • Registration of LGBTIQ organizations: possible
  • Actions related to SOGI at UN: abstained from voting on IE SOGI in 2016



The Penal Code of Barbados prohibits same-sex relations (known as the ‘buggery law’) and “serious indecencies”. The law is being challenged at the Inter American Commission for Human Rights. Although this law does not explicitly mention gender identity or expression, law enforcement officials often conflate gender identity with sexual orientation, and, as such, these laws are also used to criminalize gender expression and identities which don’t correspond with the norm associated with the sex assigned at birth. Though these laws are rarely enforced, they provide legal cover for police abuse and extortion of LGBTIQ individuals. Barbados’ “buggery law” is primarily applied against men who engage is sexual activity with underage boys – contributing to the public’s conflation of homosexuality with pedophilia.

The Christian Church plays a strong cultural role in Barbados, influencing norms around gender and sexuality. Religious leaders and healthcare providers perpetuate the misconception that same-sex relations are “unhealthy,” while simultaneously denying that LGBTIQ people face discrimination. Additionally, politicians and religious leaders profess that LGBTIQ identities are a sinful choice. As such, social acceptance of LGBTIQ people is low and LGBTIQ people are subject to violent attacks, discrimination, harassment, and social stigmatization. LGBTIQ visibility and activism has recently increased.