ECADE and DESEA welcome win for LGBTQ+ in Dominica

(Roseau, April 22, 2024) The High Court of the Commonwealth of Dominica, today ruled unconstitutional, laws that criminalise same-sex activity between consenting adults. This impactful decision makes Dominica the latest Caribbean nation to champion equal rights and inclusivity for all its citizens. 

The Eastern Caribbean Alliance for Diversity and Equality (ECADE) and the Dominica Equality and Sexual Expression Association (DESEA) celebrate and endorse this judgement.  The ruling affirms the constitutionally protected freedom of expression and the equal right to privacy for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer(LGBTQ+) people in Dominica. 

“It is long past time that the dignity and dreams of all Dominicans were recognized. We are all God’s children, and he loves us all equally. Laws that treat some Dominicans as less than others, have no place in a just society,” states Sylvester Jno. Baptiste, Executive Director of the Dominica Equality & Sexual Expression Association (DESEA). 

He adds, “Dominica should draw on the abilities, goals, and desires of all of its residents. Gay men and women in Dominica deserve to pursue their aspirations with the same rights and protections as all Dominicans.”

In declaring void sections 14 and 16 of the Sexual Offences Act, the High Court of Justice in Dominica affirms that the criminalization of consensual same-sex activity between adults is unconstitutional. The Honourable Madam Justice Kimberly Cenac-Phulgence declared that the laws commonly known as buggery and gross indecency laws, contravenes the constitution of the Commonwealth of Dominica, namely the right to liberty, freedom of expression and protection of personal privacy. 

This ruling from the High Court of Dominica, aligns with the current regional achievements  of repealing anti-LGBTQ+ laws. This win is welcomed, following the disheartening outcome of a similar case in the High Court of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in February, 2024. However, there is a general positive trend in litigation across the Caribbean. Thus far, five Caribbean countries have repealed laws that criminalised consensual same-sex relations between adults. 

Executive Director of ECADE, Kenita Placide, congratulates Minority Rights Dominica (MiRiDom) and the HIV Legal Network who brought the case to the High Court in 2019, on their win. “We at ECADE share in the joy and relief of the positive outcomes of this case and consider it a step in the right direction for the equality and inclusion of the LGBTQ+ community within Dominica and the wider eastern Caribbean.”

ECADE continues to persistently pursue its mission by engaging in LGBTQ+ advocacy and litigation. The regional alliance relentlessly strives to influence policies to secure justice,and increase protection for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people across the eastern Caribbean.

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