miridomMinority Rights Dominica (MiriDom) is making it clear that it is not seeking ‘special rights’ for homosexuals but that they be treated equally as human beings.

“Homosexuals are not requesting special rights but merely to be respected as fellow human beings,” the group said on Friday.

On May 17, 2013 Dominica News Online published an article entitled “Group wants Catholic Church to address anti-buggery laws” in which the group called on the Catholic Church in Dominica to clarify its position on buggery laws on the island.

The article generated an avalanche of discussion as many Dominicans expressed their opinions on the matter with several insisting that the laws on the books should not change.

The group is now saying that it is not only concerned about the issue of homosexuality on the island but other aspects of Dominican culture that strip people of their rights.

“MiriDom is not just concerned about the aversion to homosexuality and homosexuals that we tend to display in Dominica,” the group said. “It is also keen to intelligently and tactfully address aspects of the Dominican social culture that strip people of their human rights.”

The group said that it is a strong believer “that we should ‘respect everyone’s right to be’ as long as it does not violate any person’s rights.”

MiriDom  said it is impressed by what it described as a “clear response” from the Bishop of Roseau, Gabriel Malzaire, to the DNO article, saying that it “shows an understanding of the difference between religious teachings and the law of the state.”

“We were most impressed with the Bishop’s statement that ‘The Catholic Church maintains that free sexual acts between adult persons must not be treated as crimes to be punished by civil authorities’ as this addresses MiriDom’s concerns,” it said. “The Bishop clarified the Catholic Church’s position on the criminalization of same sex intimacy among consenting adults by stating: ‘I wish to make it clear that the Catholic Church in Dominica adheres to the call of the Holy See ‘to condemn all forms of violence against homosexual persons as well as to urge all States to take necessary measures to put an end to all criminal penalties against them’.”

The group said “it is now clear that one of the oldest and the largest religious denominations in Dominica – and a major contributor to social and educational systems in Dominica – would support an end to criminal penalties against homosexuals.”

MiriDom says it looks forward to further fruitful discussions with the Bishop on the matter.