Local group Minority Rights Dominica (MiriDom) has expressed satisfaction over a landmark court ruling in Belize which struck down an anti-gay law, saying it has been advocating for a similar cause in Dominica.
MiriDom has been insisting that Section 16 of the Sexual Offences Act of Dominica impedes the sexual expression of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) citizens of Dominica.
This week the Supreme Court in Belize struck down Section 53, an anti-sodomy law, from the country’s criminal code saying it is unconstitutional.
Section 53 criminalizes consenting intercourse between adults of the same sex but the court ruled that it violates human dignity, the right to privacy, the right to freedom from discrimination, freedom of expression and the equal protection of the law.
On Thursday, MiriDom said it is pleased with the ruling.
“MiRiDom has been advocating for a similar cause in Dominica where Section 16 of the Sexual Offences Act impedes on the sexual expression of the LGBT citizens of Dominica,” the group said in a statement.
According to Section 16 of the Sexual Offences Act of Dominica, anyone who commits buggery is guilty of an offence and can be imprisoned for up to 25 years and subjected to psychiatric treatment. The section defines buggery as anal sex between a male person and another male person or a male person and female person (see section of the Act below).
MiriDom said that now the Belize ruling has set a precedent, “we hope that the Government of Dominica will take a more serious look at Section 16 through a Human Rights Commission, as prescribed by the United Nations, with the mandate to look at the laws of the country that are against the Human Rights of citizens. This will allow every one to have equal rights under the law.”
The group added, “Other Caribbean Human Rights groups in the former British Colonies are also elated by the judgment, and look forward to having the laws in their countries amended to ensure equal rights of sexual expression by consenting adults.”
The LGBT and the same-sex marriage movement in Dominica is facing an uphill battle.
In 2014 Dominica’s Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, has made it clear that same-sex marriages will not be accepted by his government, pointing out that “certain guiding principles” must be followed in that matter.
“I will make it clear that there is some things that this government will not accept and we will never allow for the state to recognize same sex marriage in our country,” he said. “If other countries want to do it, that’s a matter for them but there are certain guiding principles that we must follow.”