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Man in Dominica files legal action against laws banning gay sex

Lily Wakefield July 20, 2019

Teenager in Dominican juvenile prison, teenager hiding his face. (Getty)

A man in Dominica is challenging the country’s laws against gay sex and same-sex relationships, which currently carry sentences of up to 12 years in prison and psychiatric confinement for “treatment.”

Dominica is a country with a population of just over 70,000 people, and does not have any protections for LGBT+ people against discrimination.

According to Reuters, gay man who has faced repeated violence in the tiny Caribbean country is challenging the anti-gay laws and trying to prove that they violate the Dominican constitution.

The constitution states rights to freedom of expression and privacy, and prohibits inhumane or degrading punishment.

Dominica gay sex law
The first annual Pride Arts Festival was held this year in Trinidad, also in the Caribbean. (Sean Drakes/Getty)

The gay man challenging the law in Dominica has suffered “physical and sexual assaults”

The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network is assisting the man with the case.

It said in a press release: “The claimant at the centre of this case is a gay man who could face more than a decade in prison for private sexual intercourse with consenting adult same-sex partners.

“Already, he has experienced homophobic hostility, discrimination, harassment, threats, and physical and sexual assaults fueled by these hateful laws.

“In one instance, he was savagely attacked in his own home, yet police refused to investigate and allowed his attacker to remain free.”

Senior policy analyst at the network Maurice Tomlinson said: “While some people are forced to flee their country of origin to escape anti-gay laws and the violence that often accompanies them, others do not have that opportunity or do not wish to leave their home.

“With this case, we hope to provide the LGBT people of Dominica with the important, life-affirming option to stay, if they so choose. We want to bring an end to the hateful laws that plague our countries, one legal challenge at a time.”

The Canadian government also issued travel advice earlier this year warning gay couples about the risk of homophobia in the nearby Bahamas.

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