No changes to Dominica buggery laws – Skerrit

ROSEAU, Dominica, Tuesday May 28, 2013 – The Dominica government says it has no intention of changing the present buggery laws even as the advocacy group, Minority Rights Dominica (MiriDom) said it was seeking talks with the authorities on the matter of equal rights.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, speaking on the state-owned DBS radio Monday, said his administration’s position on the matter is stated in law “and this matter is still on our books and will remain there for the foreseeable future.

“I respect the views of this new group. I understand from persons they intend to write to the government. We welcome their writing to government, we welcome meeting them as as a matter of fact…they are citizens of this country and they would like to express their views.

“But one has to look at the broader context of this request and it will be dangerous for the country to move in the direction of repealing laws against buggery.”

Prime Minister Skerrit said “as it is now anybody who wants to engage in what whatever activities can do so in the privacy of his home. But one should not believe that the government is prepared or thinking of wanting to make this a public affair.

Skerrit said he has not heard ‘any compelling arguments for it to be repealed and I don’t think any compelling arguments can be made for to be repealed. So we respect the rights of the group and if they write to us requesting a meeting…we will be more than willing to meet with them”.

Spokesman for the group, Daryl Phillip told radio listeners that Dominica’s laws making homosexual acts a criminal offence have fuelled negative perceptions about people engaged in the practice.

“Over the last 20 years, there began to be ….a developing hatred and some physical abuses targeted towards those people and that’s our concern.

“It is targeting homosexuals, it is not about telling people it is okay to go in public and make out, all we want is for that law to be removed and then we can go on an educational drive.”

Earlier this month, the group in a statement said it was also calling on the Roman Catholic Church to make its position clear on the issue saying that the buggery laws fuel homophobia in countries where they are still on the law books.

“MiriDom believes that homophobia in Dominica and the rest of the Anglophone Caribbean is fuelled by the existence of laws that make gay sex between consenting adults a criminal act,” it said, noting that in 2008, the Holy See urged a repeal of anti-buggery laws throughout the world and the position has been ignored by the church in Dominica.

“In a statement to the 63rd session of the General Assembly of the United Nations on the declaration of human rights, sexual orientation and gender identity, the Holy See advocated, ‘that every sign of unjust discrimination towards homosexual persons should be avoided and urges states to do away with criminal penalties against them.’ It described such penalties as “grave violations of human rights,’” the group said.

But Bishop Gabriel Malzaire in response said that the Catholic Church here adheres to the call by the Holy See.

“The Catholic Church maintains that free sexual acts between adult persons must not be treated as crimes to be punished by civil authorities. The Vatican specifically objected to the declaration’s use of the term sexual orientation and gender identity, which it said had no established meaning in international law.

‘It is very important to note that the role of the Church in any society is primarily a moral one. She is not at liberty to change the divine mandate at will or according to human expediency. She has no authority to make a wrong into a right.”

The head of the Roman Catholic Church here said that God’s law must always be obeyed “and all of us are called to live by God’s law if salvation is part of our agenda. Therefore, whether it regards fornication, adultery, homosexual activity, the whole gamut, we have to live by God’s law.

“We live in an age in which people say, it is my body and I can do whatever I want with it. St. Paul reminds us that our bodies are temples of God’s Spirit and therefore deserve our utmost respect. They must not be treated just in any other way.” (CMC) Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)