Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Dominica High Court overturns ban on same-sex relations


Dominica’s High Court has overturned the country’s ban on consensual same-sex activity, which dates back to colonial times.

The High Court ruled the law that criminalised consensual same-sex activity between adults (sections 14 and 16 of the 1998 Sexual Offences Act) were unconstitutional. 

Prior to the ruling, both male and female same-sex sexual activity was illegal. Anyone found guilty faced a maximum penalty of 12 years’ imprisonment, and the possibility of compulsory psychiatric treatment.

The case was brought by a gay man living in the Caribbean country, who argued that the law violated his constitutional rights. The man claimed the legislation had forced him to live in constant fear of criminal sanction for engaging in consensual sexual activity.

Justice Kimberly Cenac-Phulgence wrote in the ruling that the court found the law breached the constitutional right to liberty, freedom of expression and protection of personal privacy.

Laws criminalising homosexuality were first imposed in several Caribbean nations by the British during the colonial era of the 1800s. Following gaining independence, several countries, including Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, and Saint Kitts and Nevis, have legalised homosexuality. Although, some Caribbean countries still criminalise homosexuality, like Guyana, Grenada, Jamaica, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, where judges recently ruled to keep homosexuality illegal.

Dominica can finally leave this infamous map

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