LGBT rights in the British Virgin Islands

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LGBT rights in the British Virgin Islands
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 2001
Gender identity/expression
Military service -UK overseas territory – United Kingdom responsible for defense thus Gay and Lesbians allows to serve openly.
Discrimination protections – All gay discrimination banned.
Family rights
Recognition of

LGBT rights in the British Virgin Islands are seen to be restricted in comparison to most Western countries.

Law regarding same-sex sexual activity[edit]

Before 2000, anal sex was a criminal offence referred to as the crime of buggery under the British Virgin Islands Criminal Code. However, sexual acts between two consenting adult males in private were expressly decriminalized by an Order in Council in the British Virgin Islands (and other British Caribbean territories) by the British Government pursuant to the Caribbean Territories (Criminal Law) Order, 2000 Sections 3(1) and 3(7).[1] According to section 4 of the order, the law has retrospective effect. There are two exceptions to the law: group sex, or sex in public, remains a criminal offence and may also lead to a charge under gross indecency and other minor sexual offence laws.[2] Homosexual acts between women have never been criminalised in the Territory.

As a British overseas territory, the British Virgin Islands Government is required to comply with their obligations under the international human rights instruments which have been extended to them. Specifically this includes an adherence to the European Convention on Human Rights which highlight a responsibility to ensure non-discrimination.[3] The European Convention on Human Rights has been recognised by the courts as having legal effect in the jurisdiction.[4]

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

Same-sex marriage in the British Virgin Islands is not legal under British Virgin Islands law. The British Virgin Islands is an extremely religious society,[5] and no discussion relating to legalisation has yet occurred in the House of Assembly. Church leaders have indicated hostility towards the possibility of legalisation,[6] and political leaders have taken an unsympathetic approach in public.[7] Her Majesty's Government has confirmed that it will not impose recognition of same-sex marriages in the British Virgin Islands by way of Order-in-Council.[8] The Constitution does, however, prohibit discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation.[9]

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (Since 2000)
Equal age of consent Yes
Anti-discrimination laws in employment Yes
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services Yes
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) Yes
Same-sex marriages No
Recognition of same-sex couples No
Step-child adoption by same-sex couples No
Joint adoption by same-sex couples No
Gays and lesbians allowed to serve openly in the military Yes UK responsible for defence
Right to change legal gender No
Access to IVF for lesbians No
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No
MSMs allowed to donate blood No

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Britain Scraps Homosexuality Laws". Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  2. ^ "Local News – British Virgin Islands". Island Sun. Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  3. ^ "Country Profile: British Virgin Islands (British Overseas Territory)". Retrieved 19 January 2011. 
  4. ^ Wang Zhongyong v Union Zone Management (unreported) (BVIHC (Com) 0126/2011
  5. ^ The constitution of the Virgin Islands defines the country as one which "believes in God" (at section 2(1)). See also: Christianity by country.
  6. ^ "Church Leaders Hopeful BVI Will Stand Ground Against Same Sex Marriages". BVI Platinum news. 2012-05-12. 
  7. ^ "None Of Us Will Probably Vote For Same Sex Marriage - Health Minister". BVI Platinum News. 2013-02-19. 
  8. ^ "UK Will Not Force BVI To Accept Same Sex Marriage - Governor". Platinum News. 20 January 2014. 
  9. ^ The Virgin Islands Constitution Order 2007, sections 9 and 26.