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Press Release

Progress in the Caribbean as Dominica Decriminalizes Same-Sex Relations



Publish Date


New York, New York - April 22, 2024 - Outright International celebrates with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people of Dominica after the high court overturned a ban on consensual same-sex relations. The court's ruling followed a constitutional challenge brought forward by a courageous individual, with support from the Minority Rights Dominica (MiRiDom) and the HIV Legal Network.

The court's decision to declare sections 14 and 16 of the Sexual Offences Act (SOA) unconstitutional is a crucial step towards upholding the rights to privacy, protection from discrimination, liberty, security of the person, freedom of expression, and freedom of assembly and association, as guaranteed by Dominica's 1978 Constitution.

“Today is a special day for me and MiRiDom. Dominica has given rise to the Eastern Caribbean, the Caribbean, and the world because it is now a free place. The fuel that impeded homophobia has now been removed. That doesn't mean that homophobia is going to stop tomorrow. It's a process,” said Daryl Phillip, founder of MiRiDom, at a press conference held hours after the ruling.  

The imposition of “buggery” and “gross indecency” prohibitions in the Anglophone Caribbean by British colonizers in the 1800s was an attempt to strip queer people of their humanity. The recent wave of court rulings decriminalizing same-sex intimacy is a welcome sign of official recognition of that humanity. Dominica joins the growing number of Caribbean countries that recognize the rights of their LGBTQ citizens. 

“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. 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,” said Outright Executive Director Maria Sjödin. “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.” 

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