In January 2011, a representative of St Kitts and Nevis told the UN Human Rights Council that LGBT people enjoy the same rights as everyone else in their country.
“There are no instances of denial of job opportunities or any attacks on any individuals of that disposition,” said the delegate.
And it’s true that St Kitts and Nevis, the country that Canada intends to deport gay asylum seeker Rolston Ryan back to, appears to be moving in the right direction when it comes to LGBT rights.
As with most former British colonies in the Caribbean, the island federation retains anti-sodomy laws that carry lengthy prison terms. But like most of its neighbouring countries, the state rarely, if ever, actually enforces these laws.
In June of this year, Kittitian police officers took part in four days of LGBT sensitivity training led by Canadian-Jamaican lawyer and gay-rights activist Maurice Tomlinson.
Denzil Douglas, who was prime minister from 1995 to 2015 and has long been the country’s dominant political figure, has in the past called for reviews of anti-sodomy laws and for greater tolerance towards LGBT people.
But anecdotal evidence from St Kitts and Nevis paints a different picture — that this is a place where homophobic violence is still a regular occurrence.
Take former prime minister Douglas. His statements about gay rights have been quoted extensively in the foreign press, by human rights agencies, and even by Canada’s Refugee Appeal Division in its judgment against Ryan.
However, Douglas has also been caught on camera making homophobic statements about his political opponent, current St Kitts and Nevis Prime Minister Timothy Harris.
At a Labour Party rally in April 2013, Douglas went on a bizarre homophobic rant, calling Harris a “little girl” and a “hog,” joking that Harris had begged Douglas to “breed” him.
People at the rally can be heard screaming “batty man hog.”