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Dominican Republic: High Court Overturns Ban On Same-Sex Relationships

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The Caribbean island nation of Dominica’s law prohibiting consenting same-sex relationships has been overturned by the High Court.

The court decided that certain provisions of the statute that made same-sex relationships illegal violated the constitution of the nation. The case was brought by a Dominican gay man who claimed that the law infringed upon his constitutional rights.

Proponents of LGBTQ rights praised the ruling, calling it “a significant milestone in the ongoing struggle for LGBTQ rights in the Caribbean”. The Sexual Offences Act’s sections 14 and 16, which made consenting to same-sex relationships between adults illegal, were declared unconstitutional by the court.

The court determined that they had violated the country’s constitution’s guarantees of liberty, freedom of expression, and privacy protection, according to Justice Kimberly Cenac-Phulgence’s written opinion.

An openly gay man who wished to remain anonymous claimed that the laws had forced him “to live in constant fear of criminal sanction for engaging in consensual sexual activity.” He also claimed that the laws had encouraged “hateful and violent conduct towards him and other LGBT persons,” which had prevented him from “living and expressing himself freely and in dignity.”

The founder of Minority Rights Dominica (MiRiDom), Daryl Phillip, responded to the decision by saying: “This ruling sets Dominica on a promising path toward restoring people’s dignity and safeguarding LGBTQ people’s rights to privacy, health, and freedom from torture and ill-treatment, aligning with international human rights obligations.”

But he clarified that the decision did not imply “that homophobia is going to stop tomorrow”. “It’s a process,” stated Phillip.

“Decriminalization helps create an environment where LGBTQ individuals can live openly without fear of persecution, enabling them to access health care, education, and employment without facing discrimination,” stated Outright International, a human rights LGBTQ NGO.

“The repeal of these discriminatory laws is a testament to the tireless efforts of activists, advocates, and allies who have long fought for justice and equality. It is a victory for human rights and a significant milestone in the ongoing struggle for LGBTQ rights in the Caribbean,” stated Maria Sjödin, executive director of Outright.

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