Dominica has to make its position clear to the United Nations concerning the rights of gays and lesbians on the island at the Universal Periodic Review 2014 to be held in Geneva on May 1.
Local minority group MiriDom, in conjunction with the Sexual Rights Initiative, has written to the UN Commission for Human Rights on the matter and the island’s permanent representative to the UN, Vince Henderson, is expected to make a presentation on Dominica’s position.
In its submission to the UN, MiriDom called for the island’s buggery laws to be repealed.
“MiriDom feels no law or constitution should be allowed to discriminate against someone based on their sexual orientation,” the organization said. “The anti sodomy laws of Dominica are discriminatory towards the sexual expressions of consenting adults, therefore we feel they should be repealed.”
According to the organization, such laws “fuel stigma and discrimination towards a minority in our society.”
It noted that the laws give the court the leeway to have homosexuals analyzed by a psychiatrist, noting this “is against human rights.”
The Universal Periodic Review is held every four years during which organizations or individuals of UN member countries are given an opportunity to present to the UN Commission on Human Rights a report on human rights that concerns them.
The report is then given a hearing in Geneva attended by UN ambassadors who may question the relevant ambassador. This is when Henderson is expected to give the position of the government of Dominica.
Speaking to DNO on Monday, Henderson said there are a number of questions that he has to respond to when the meeting convenes in Geneva but said he cannot give any information since the government has to approve the text of his presentation.
“Once it is done, it will be made public,” he stated. “But at this point I cannot comment on anything of that nature.”
He did say, however, issues concerning violence against women, violence against children, the death penalty are on the agenda but the Miridom matter seems “to be the most controversial one for some people.”
Last year prime minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, said buggery laws on the books in Dominica will not be repealed pointing out that he has not heard any ‘compelling’ argument to support such move.