Lawyer and Gay Rights Activist Maurice Tomlinson
Lawyer and Gay Rights Activist Maurice Tomlinson

"I had to leave Dominica because of my sexual orientation," says Daniel a homosexual man now based in the US. "I could never understand how law seeks to punish someone for what they do with their (body). It excites me that this law which discriminates and causes hostility towards LGBT+ people may soon be abolished in Dominica".

However, to the President of the Dominica Association of Evangelical Churches (DAEC), Pastor Randy Rodney, the nation must take the bible's stance on this matter and denounce homosexuality.

These comments come on the heels of a landmark case which was recently heard before Dominica's High court challenging Dominica's "buggery" and "gross indecency" laws.

Arguments in court

At the hearing of the constitutional challenge from a gay man who is seeking to have two sections of the Sexual Offences Act (SOA) that criminalize consensual same-sex activities ruled unconstitutional, the attorney for the claimant, Cara Shillingford-Marsh told the court that her clients right to rights to privacy, protection from discrimination, liberty, security of the person, freedom from inhuman or degrading punishment, freedom of expression, and freedom of assembly and association is being infringed upon by Sections 14 and 16 of the SOA.

She further pointed out that section 11 says, except with his own consent a person shall not be hindered in the enjoyment of his association and assembly.

However, Dr. David Dorsett who represented the Attorney General (AG) says, Dominica does not have an order status clause hence the question of sexual orientation does not apply. He added that the law does not discriminate between men and women as according to him section 14 and 16 of the SOA is gender neutral and applies to both sexes.

He further argued that should the country not maintain it's view, "we are going down a slippery slop into absurdity because what then will be the categories of sex not male and female but homosexuals and heterosexual which is not what is considered as the word sex in Dominica's constitution."

Justice Kimberly Cenac-Phulgence who presided over the sitting reserved her judgement in the matter.

The case to end the criminalization of LGBT people in Dominica is supported by Minority Rights Dominica (MiRiDom) and the HIV Legal Network, working alongside the claimant who cannot be named because of risk to his safety.

Gay man says the law insults him

To another homosexual man in Dominica, Brendan Ferreira, the revocation of the of buggery and gross indecency law which dates back to the British colonial ruling is "long overdue" because " the nation's who impose this law on us have long removed it from their law books. Why are we still holding on to it?" he questioned.

"This law not only insults the gay people but it also limits the freedom of everyone. You see not only gay people have anal sex . Straight people also have anal sex. It is sad that there is a limit to what two adults can do in their bedroom," he told The Sun.

Ferreira also hold the view that the removal of buggery laws will help grow Dominica's tourism sector, as visitors who partake in anal sex "will feel more comfortable to visit Dominica and not have to worry about being jailed for what they may do in their bedrooms."

Speaking on his experience as a homosexual man in Dominica, he disclosed that his journey has been anything but easy.

"It is not easy being gay in a small island culture," he said, "It is not easy at all.The changing of the law means very little to me as I am beyond all that, I know who I am . I know and understand my sexuality and know am bigger than a sexual act. However, I remember my young days so the removal of the law will bring some sense of self-respect to gay boys who are living in shame and fear due to society and religious make-believe standards."

A heterosexual man who also spoke to The Sun stated he too is in support of the removal of the said laws as he believes what consenting adults do in the privacy of their home should not be criminalized.

"I completely understand the argument from both sides and I was in full support of the law but only when I realised that I too could be imprisoned for what I do with my wife in our home I realised that this is total nonsense," he stated. "The law should not have a say as to what is legal or not in my bedroom."

Pastor Rodney expects repeal of that section of the law

While many wait on the court's ruling, Pastor Rodney says he will not be surprised should the court rule in favour of the complaint in repealing the law.

"We see that it is happening all over the world," he stated, "and what these people are trying to do is to force a particular lifestyle on the rest of us."

He added, "Some people will argue that the government wants to be in their bedroom but the government has never been in your bedroom whether you are heterosexual or homosexual. This is the homosexual community forcing their belief on everybody else. They are forcing people to be homosexuals."

A member of the Rastafarian community also stated that the Rastafarian movement is uncompromising in its stance against homosexuality, as he says, homosexuality goes against traditional African values.

-By Ronalda Luke