LGBT rights in Dominica

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LGBT rights in Dominica
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Illegal
10 years' imprisonment for buggery between men, 4 years' imprisonment for attempted buggery between men, 5 years' imprisonment for gross indecency. Convictions for buggery or attempted buggery can be accompanied by compulsory admission to a psychiatric hospital.
Gender identity/expression Unknown.

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in Dominica face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents.


Illegality of homosexuality[edit]

Both male and female same-sex sexual activity is illegal in Dominica.[1]

Between 1995 and 2000, 35 people were arrested by local authorities and charged with buggery. The courts sentenced all the offenders to fines and prison sentences up to ten years. Some were sent to local psychiatric hospitals for treatment.[2]

In 2001, 15 females were arrested and sentenced to five years' imprisonment. The charge brought against them was gross indecency. Ten men were also sentenced to five years' imprisonment for "engaging in gross indecency with people of the same sex."[3]

The Sexual Offenses Act 1998 has two sections dealing with same-sex sexual activity.

Section 14. (1) Any person who commits an act of gross indecency with another person is guilty of an offence and liable upon conviction to imprisonment for five years.

* * * *

(4) In this section, "gross indecency" is an act other than sexual intercourse (whether natural or unnatural) by a person involving the use of the genital organ for the purpose of arousing or gratifying sexual desire.[4]

Section 16. (1) A person who commits buggery is guilty of an offence and liable upon conviction to imprisonment for -

(a) twenty-five years, if committed by an adult on a minor;

(b) ten years, if committed by an adult on another adult;

(c) five years, if committed by a minor;

and if the Court thinks it fit, the Court may order that the convicted person be admitted to a psychiatric hospital for treatment.

(2) Any person who attempts to commit the offence of buggery, or is guilty of an assault with intent to commit the same, is guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment for four years, and, if the Court thinks it fit, the Court may order that the convicted person be admitted to a psychiatric hospital for treatment.

(3) In this section, "buggery" means sexual intercourse per anum by a male person with a male person....[4]

Social conditions[edit]

Opposition to gay tourists[edit]

Bill Daniel, President of the Evangelical Association speaking on behalf of the group, made the following statement in 2009: "We want the government to ensure that gay tourists do not come to the island and conduct themselves in any immoral way."[5] The Association protested against allowing gay cruises to visit the island and promoting Dominica as a ‘gay tourist destination’.

Anti-LGBT violence[edit]

There have been suspected hate crimes against individuals believed to be homosexuals in Dominica. Persons in a dispute may use derogatory words like ‘buggerman’ or ‘battyman’ to refer to ‘effeminate’ men.[6]

In 2010 a Portsmouth (Dominica) man, Clement James, was stabbed to death after being accused of ‘watching’ his male assailant in a public place. The accused, Davis St Jean, allegedly had a habit of singing and preaching aloud in the street about killing gay people. Before stabbing Clement, he reportedly said ‘all battie boi must dead’.[6]

LGBT culture[edit]

A 2011 academic submission to the United Nations stated that LGBT groups in Dominica are forced to operate underground because of fear that their members will be victimised. Members who are openly gay complain of acts of vandalism committed against their property. Reports made to the police are not taken seriously and the victims are sometimes ridiculed.[7]

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal No (Penalty: 10 years prison sentence or incarceration in a psychiatric institution;Not enforced)
Equal age of consent No
Anti-discrimination laws in employment only No
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services No
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) No
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 No
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]