Last Updated 26 May 2021

Grenada is a country consisting of the island of Grenada and six smaller islands at the southern end of the Grenadines in the southeastern Caribbean Sea. After centuries of colonial rule under France and subsequently Britain, Grenada became a fully independent state in February 1974.

Grenada is now a parliamentary democracy under a constitutional monarchy. The Governor General represents the British monarch,
and the Prime Minister is the leader of the party that wins the majority of seats in elections.1 It is a member of the Commonwealth.2  It is a participating member of the Caribbean Community and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States.3

According to the most recent census data (2011), over 85% of Grenada’s population are Christian, with Protestants accounting for 49.2%, and Roman Catholics 36%. Many other religions including Hinduism, Rastafarianism and Islam make up for a small percentage of inhabitants.4 Grenada has a small, but growing non-religious population (5.7%, reported in 2011, compared with 3.7% in 2001) of the population reported being non-religious.5

Severe Discrimination
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Constitution and government

The Constitution6 and other laws and policies protect freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as well as freedom of expression, assembly and association. These rights are generally respected in practice.

The Constitution begins with an acknowledgement of the “supremacy of God” as one of the nation’s founding principles, where the equal and inalienable rights of its citizens are endowed by God.7

Article 1 outlines the rights and freedoms conferred on Grenadian citizens, whose exercise is limited only by respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest. Subsection b, grants citizens the right to freedom of conscience, of expression and of assembly and association. The clause also prevents discrimination on the basis of race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex.

Article 9 further outlines the right to freedom of conscience, stating:

“Except with his own consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of conscience, including freedom of thought and of religion, freedom to change his religion or belief and freedom, either alone or in community with others, and both in public and in private, to manifest and propagate his religion or belief in worship, teaching, practice and observance.”

Christian worship services form part of official festivities on national holidays.

Education and children’s rights

Grenada’s education model is based on the British schooling model, and is compulsory and free between the ages of six and fourteen. Despite this, poverty and harvest demands prevent many from attending full time and absenteeism is high.8

Under Article 9 of the Constitution,

“2. Except with his own consent (or, if he is a person under the age of eighteen years, the consent of his guardian) no person attending any place of education shall be required to received religious instruction or to take part in or attend any religious ceremony or observance if that instruction, ceremony or observance relates to a religion other than his own.

“3. Every religious community shall be entitled, at its own expense, to establish and maintain places of education and to manage any place of education which it wholly maintains; and no such community shall be prevented from providing religious instruction for persons of that community in the course of any education provided at any places of education which it wholly maintains or in the course of any education which it otherwise provides.”

The government funds all secular schools and public schools administered by religious groups. Denominational schools are managed by a board of directors and staffed by the associated faith-based organization. There are no non-Christian denominational schools currently in operation.9

The government funds secular schools and public schools administered by “traditional” Christian denominations. Students at government-funded schools are not obliged to attend religion classes.

Family, community and society

LGBTI+ rights

Male homosexuality is effectively illegal in Grenada, punishable by up to ten years in prison. Under the Grenada Criminal Code, Section 431, the offence of ‘unnatural crime’ is permitted by way of anal penetration. The offence is committable if it involves two males or a male and a female, however it cannot be committed by two females.10

Grenada’s LGBTI+ population face significant societal discrimination. In 2016, the constitutional referendum sought to protect the equal treatment of all people in Grenada, but this amendment was overwhelmingly rejected over fears that this could lead to the legalization of same-sex marriage.11

There are no laws that prevent discrimination in housing, education, employment, health care etc. against a person based on their sexuality or gender identity.12

Women’s rights

Women generally have the same legal status and rights as men,13 however, violence against women and children is a widespread issue. Despite domestic violence laws coming into effect in 2011, enforcement has been limited, and a significant proportion of violence against women remains unreported.14

A recent UN Women report found that ‘there remains significant social adherence to gendered systems, assumptions and arrangements that support and rationalize intimate partner violence and non-partner sexual violence.’ Through interviews with female survivors and men, explanations of violence against women in heterosexual unions were fostered by gendered expectations of care, work, family and women’s fidelity.15

Over the next three years, the government of Grenada will join the Spotlight Initiative to respond to family violence through legislative measures. According to the UN, ‘The Spotlight Initiative in Grenada will contribute to the achievement of gender equality, peace, social inclusion and protection of human rights…’16

The law prohibits abortions unless the mother’s life is in danger. As a result of this legal restriction, illegal and unsafe abortions take place throughout the country. Those procuring or assisting in the commission of an abortion can face a 10-year prison sentence.17;

Freedom of expression, advocacy of humanist values

In July 2012, Grenada became the first Caribbean country to decriminalize defamation, however, seditious libel remains a criminal offence. Due to politicians initiating defamation lawsuits against the media, many journalists who cannot afford legal costs self-censor.18

A 2020 human rights report found that there were no government restrictions on academic freedom or cultural events.19

Blasphemous language

According to Section 429 of the Criminal Code 2012,20 which addresses the publication or sale of blasphemous or obscene matter:

“Whoever publishes, sells, or offers for sale any blasphemous or obscene book, writing, or representation, shall be liable to imprisonment for 2 years.”

The law is not thought to be enforced.21


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