BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - PRIME MINISTER the Rt. Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas said that while the twin-island Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis does not support prostitution, it still occurs.
That was his response when, at his monthly Press Conference held yesterday (Aug. 28), he was asked about the possibility of legalising prostitution.
"We don't support prostitution in St. Kitts and Nevis, we know it happens...," he said.
Although not forthcoming about whether or not any consideration would be given to its legalisation, he did stress on the importance of discontinuing the discrimination and stigmatisation of both sex workers - whether male or female - as well as homosexuals.
He said that such discrimination and stigmatisation could lead to them being too ashamed to go out and be tested for HIV/AIDS
"Those who are engaged in sex work for pay [and] those who are considered to be homosexuals and who continue to suffer at the hand of discrimination and stigmatisation...these groups within the spectrum of the HIV/AIDS pandemic go underground and thus refuse to come out and be tested for fear of the discrimination and stigmatisation against them.
"We say that that is not good in the management of the HIV/AIDS pandemic and we would wish therefore that governments, including this one and governments around the region, to have a very serious look at the laws which continue to be on our law books that discriminate and stigmatise such persons.”
He said not just the Federation but the entire Caribbean region should look into this with the start of debates on these issues.
The Prime Minister made mention of a situation in Jamaica where the former Prime Minister had stated that he would never have a homosexual in his Cabinet while the current Prime Minister claims she is open to it.
"So already you can see the trend changing in the Caribbean region, and the whole idea from my own personal perspective is that as the champion of the HIV/AIDS management championing its end of discrimination and associated with the people who are at risks for HIV/AIDS - sex workers and homosexuals - I say that we should begin the discussion on these matters here in St. Kitts and Nevis.”
He reiterated that the church must become involved, stating that they have always been an important social guide to the society's behaviour.
He also stated that those who are aware of the changes that a move in this direction would mean to the Federation's cultural and social norms should also be engaged in the discussion.