The tiny Caribbean country has no protections for LGBT+ communities

THE Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network has come to the assistance of a Dominican who 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’.

Maurice Tomlinson is a Jamaican lawyer, gay rights activist, and educator. He acts as counsel and/or claimant in cases challenging anti-gay laws before the most senior tribunals in the Caribbean and authors reports to regional and UN agencies on the human rights situation for LGBT+ people in this region.

According to PinkNews, the Network’s Senior Policy Analyst, 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.

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

The man who mounted the legal challenge has faced repeated violence in the tiny Caribbean country. He aims to prove that existing laws violate the Dominican constitution. The constitution states rights to freedom of expression and privacy, and prohibits inhumane or degrading punishment.

The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network 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.

In a July 19 posting, the Network said on its website:

The intention to file this lawsuit was celebrated at World Pride in New York City several weeks ago. Today’s official filing is being announced in Dominica by Daryl Phillip, Founder and Head of Minority Rights Dominica (MiRiDom) and Maurice Tomlinson, Senior Policy Analyst at the HIV Legal Network and a dual citizen of Jamaica and Canada.
‘Brutal and often life-threatening experiences are a daily reality for many LGBT people in Dominica, and elsewhere in the Caribbean. Because the law criminalises all LGBT individuals, it sends a powerful message that other people – whether law enforcement or regular citizens on the street — are entitled to discriminate and commit human rights abuses against LGBT individuals,’ says Philip .’While Britain decriminalised homosexuality in 1967, a majority of Commonwealth countries have not followed suit. LGBT people still face harsh laws in many parts of the world.’

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