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Dominican High Court strikes down buggery laws

April 22, 2024

ROSEAU, Dominica, CMC – High Court judge, Justice Kimberly Cenac-Phulgence, Monday ruled that sections of the Sexual Offenses Act contravene the Dominica Constitution as she ruled in favour of a “gay man” who challenged legislation that criminalizes buggery and other sexual activity between consenting partners, including and in particular, partners of the same sex.

In a 40-page ruling, the judge said that sections 14 and 16 of the Sexual Offenses Act contravene Sections 1 and 10 of the Dominica Constitution and their rights to liberty as enshrined in the Constitution.

The un-named “gay man’ had brought the lawsuit, claiming that the law violates “numerous rights guaranteed in the Constitution of Dominica” with his lawyers making particular reference to sections 14 and section 16 of the Sexual Offenses Act.

Section 14 is a sweeping law criminalizing gross indecency which is defined as any act (other than penile-vaginal sex) by anyone “involving the use of the genital organs, breast or anus to arouse or gratifying sexual desire.”

The maximum penalty is 12 years in prison, if the act is committed with a person aged 16 or older, while section 16 of the Act criminalizes buggery, which the Act defines as anal sex between two men or between a man and a woman.

The maximum penalty is 10 years imprisonment plus the possibility of forced psychiatric confinement.

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