LGBT rights in the Dominican Republic

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LGBT rights in the Dominican Republic
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal[1][2]
Discrimination protections (see below)
Family rights
Same-sex marriage constitutionally banned

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in the Dominican Republic may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. While the Criminal Code does not expressly prohibit homosexuality or cross-dressing, it also does not address discrimination or harassment on the account of sexual orientation or gender identity. Household headed by same-sex couples are also not eligible for any of the same rights given to opposite-sex married couples.

Legality of same-sex sexual activity[edit]

Sexuality between consenting adults of the same sex in private has been legal in the Dominican Republic since 1822. The age of consent is set at eighteen for both same-sex and different-sex sexual relations. Members of the police force and the military are nevertheless subject to different legal standards. The National Police Law of 1954 prohibits police officers from engaging in sexual activity with someone of the same sex and a similar ban exists for members of the military.[3]

Article 330 of the Criminal Code criminalizes any act that is deemed to be in violation of "decorum and good behavior" in public, and imposed fines and up to two years imprisonment. This law has sometimes been used by police officers to harass, fine or jail same-sex couples who engage in public displays of affection.[citation needed]

Recogntition of same-sex relationships[edit]

The family law statutes of the Dominican Republic do not recognize any legal status between persons of the same-sex, neither marriage nor any marriage-like relationship like civil partnership or domestic partnership. The Constitution was amended in 2010 to say in Article 55 that "The State shall promote and protect the family organization based on the institution of marriage between a man and a woman", as part of a series of changes that banned abortion, stripped native-born children of illegal immigrants of their citizenship, and authorized the private ownership of beaches.[4][5]

Discrimination protections[edit]

In the Dominican Republic, few legal instruments in some specific areas protect LGBT people from discrimination. Since 2000, the General Law on Youth (Law 49/2000), prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.[6] Article 11 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, in effect since 2007, establishes that judges and prosecutors must take into account the particular circumstances of each person involved in each case but cannot base their decisions solely based on their sexual orientation.[7] Since 2011, the Law 135/2011 on HIV/AIDS prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.[8]

Discrimination on account of sexual orientation or gender identity is not illegal in areas such as employment, education, housing, health care, banking, transportation, government services and public accommodations. As a result, many LGBT people feel the need to remain in the closet and reports of anti-gay discrimination are quite common.[9]

Hate crimes[edit]

LGBT people in the Dominican Republic have sometimes been the targets of violence. From 2006 to 2009, official sources reported the murder of at least 14 transgender sex workers.[10] Bias-motivated crimes have also been reported against LGBT people from the middle and upper classes, including TV producer Micky Breton and Claudio Nasco.[11] Other prominent people who have the targets of such violence include film director Jean Luis Jorge, journalist Víctor Gulías, Dr. Jesús Díaz Almánzar, and William Cordero.[12] In 2014, Van Teasley, a visiting American lawyer, was found murdered in his Santo Domingo apartment.[13]

In 2016, a new Penal Code has been drafted and would include provisions banning hate crimes on the basis of sexual orientation. Penalties would range between 30 to 60 years imprisonment. In addition, those who cause torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment to anyone because of their sexual orientation, could be sentenced to 30 to 40 years in prison.[14][15]

Access to health care services[edit]

Citizens of the Dominican Republic have a constitutional right to access health care services. Health care programs for the LGBT community in the Dominican have generally focused on AIDS/HIV education, which are often run by non-governmental organizations.

Public attitudes[edit]

The socially conservative mores of the Catholic Church and evangelical Protestant denominations hold significant sway in both public policy and prevailing attitudes surrounding LGBT rights. Recent reports suggest that signs of a visible, politically active LGBT community are often targets of a government crackdown, often with the support of religious leaders.

In the summer of 2006, several gay clubs and bars in Santo Domingo were shut down as part of a program of police harassment.[16]

In 2012, members of the police department crashed the LGBT Pride Parade in Santo Domingo and arrested individuals at the parade on the ground that marchers were improperly using the Dominican Republic's flag.[17]

According to a Pew Research Center survey conducted between 2 November 2013 and 2 February 2014, 25% of respondents supported same-sex marriage and 72% opposed it.[18][19]

Due to the majority of residents having conservative views, including opposition to homosexuality, the major political parties in the Dominican Republic have not expressed much public support for LGBT rights legislation.


Prostitution has become a harsh necessity for some members of the LGBT community, who find it difficult to earn their living in the formal economic sector because of high levels of discrimination and harassment that LGBT people often face. Poverty, drug addiction and violence often surround the men and transgender people who become prostitutes.[20]

Non-governmental organizations[edit]

Amigos Siempre Amigos (English: Friends Always Friends) is a non-governmental organization (NGO) in the Dominican Republic that promotes health in the LGBT community.[21]

Diversidad Dominicana is an activist organization that supports LGBT rights.[22]

Summary table[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (Since 1822)
Equal age of consent Yes
Anti-discrimination laws in employment No
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services No
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas No
Hate crimes laws include sexual orientation No (Pending)
Recognition of same-sex couples No
Same-sex marriage No (Constitutional ban since 2010)
Step-child adoption by same-sex couples No
Joint adoption by same-sex couples No
Gays allowed to serve 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]


  1. ^ State-sponsored Homophobia A world survey of laws prohibiting same sex activity between consenting adults Archived 19 July 2013 at WebCite
  2. ^ "Worldwide ages of consent". 
  3. ^ "Laws: Dominican Republic". GayLawNet. Archived from the original on 27 February 2016. Retrieved April 13, 2016. 
  4. ^ Kurtz, Reed M. "A Giant Step Backward: The Dominican Republic Reforms Its Constitution". NACLA. Retrieved 13 April 2016. 
  5. ^ "Constitución Política de la República Dominicana, proclamada el 26 de enero 2010, No. 10561". Gaceta Oficial (in Spanish). 26 January 2010. El Estado promoverá y protegerá la organización de la familia sobre la base de la institución del matrimonio entre un hombre y una mujer. 
  6. ^ "Ley General de Juventud" (PDF) (in Spanish). 
  7. ^ "Codigo Procesal Penal" (PDF) (in Spanish). 
  8. ^ "Ley 135-11 VIH/Sida" (PDF) (in Spanish). 
  9. ^ Ismael Ogando. Factores de incidencia en la conducta antisocial de los jovenes homosexuales del Centro Historico de Santiago de los Caballeros. Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo, 2007.
  10. ^ "República Dominicana: dos detenidos por caso de travestis asesinados" (in Spanish). Radio Mitos. 29 May 2013. Retrieved 11 April 2014. 
  11. ^ "¿Por qué acuchillan a los homosexuales?" (in Spanish). El Caribe. 9 February 2012. Retrieved 11 April 2014. 
  12. ^ "Crímenes homosexuales escandalizan en República Dominicana". El nuevo diario. 19 December 2013. Retrieved 13 April 2016. 
  13. ^ McCoy, Terrence (3 November 2014). "D.C. attorney found bound, gagged and strangled to death in Dominican Republic". Washington Post. Retrieved 13 April 2016. 
  14. ^ "Podrían imponer penas de 40 a 60 años de cárcel por asesinar personas LGBT - CDN". CDN (in Spanish). Retrieved 10 October 2016. 
  15. ^ (Spanish) Nuevo Código Penal impondrá penas de 40 a 60 años prisión para homicidas de homosexuales
  16. ^ Blabbeando: Dominican Republic: Gay bars shut down
  17. ^ "Police Interrupt Gay Pride In Dominican Republic Because Marchers Used Flag". 6 June 2012. Retrieved 11 April 2014. 
  18. ^ Religion in Latin America Chapter 5: Social Attitudes
  19. ^ Religion in Latin America Appendix A: Methodology
  20. ^ Medina, César (24 December 2013). "La prostitución masculina". Listin Diario (in Spanish). Retrieved 13 April 2016. 
  21. ^ "Amigos Siempre Amigos". Portal Sida (in Spanish). Retrieved 13 April 2016. 
  22. ^ Marzan, Rosanna (April 27, 2016). "Attacks on Brewster are attacks on LGBT Dominicans". Washington Blade. Retrieved April 27, 2016. 

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