Catholic and Evangelical churches join court case to stop Dominica making gay sex legal

Catholic and Evangelical churches join court case to stop Dominica making gay sex legal
Batalie Bay in Dominica.

Christian churches have demanded to join a court case that could see the Caribbean island of Dominica scrapping its ‘buggery law’.

The law currently punishes homosexuality with up to 10 years in prison. Meanwhile men who are found guilty of anal sex can be forced into a psychiatric hospital.

In June 2019, a gay man in Dominica, known only as DG, decided to challenge the law in a court case.

That case is currently before the Commonwealth of Dominica’s High Court of Justice.

But now the Catholic and Evangelical Christian communities on the island have demanded to join the case as ‘interested parties’. The main defendant in the case is Dominica’s Attorney General, representing the government.

And now the case faces a delay after the judge – the Honorable Justice Birnie Stephenson excused herself from the case.

She realized she couldn’t continue to hear it impartially because the affidavit from the Evangelical church was given by her pastor.

She has now referred the case to the Chief Justice to preside over it or appoint another judge to do so.

Churches say cruel law upholds their values

Caribbean lawyer Maurice Tomlinson and his Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network is supporting the gay man, DG, in the case. The University of Toronto’s International Human Rights Program, Minority Rights Dominica, an LGBT advocacy group, and Lawyers Without Borders are also helping.

The man says he has faced homophobia, harassment, threats and physical and sexual assaults because of the law.

In one case, he was viciously attacked in his own home. But police refused to investigate, arguing that gay people are criminalized under Dominican law. Instead, they allowed his attacker to remain free.

But despite the terrible toll the hateful law has on LGBT+ people, the churches say it should stay in place.

Bishop Gabriel Malzaire, leads the Catholic Diocese of Roseau and is president of the Dominica Christian Council. He argues the country’s law and constitution are based on Christian values.

In his affidavit, he says the demands to scrap the law are ‘unwarranted and threaten the core beliefs of the vast majority of Dominican society’.

Moreover he claims that if the law goes it will ‘degrade these beliefs and values, public decency and/or public morality’.

It appears to be a shift in the position he took in 2013, when Malzaire appeared to accept the sodomy law should go.

Also intervening in the case is Randy Rodney Elmshall, who leads the Parish of St George in Dominica and is the President of the Dominica Association of Evangelical Churches.

In his affidavit he argues ‘all matters of sex must be between a man and a woman’. And he cites to Bible passages – from Genesis and Leviticus – to justify this attitude.

He says his congregation ‘believe and champion’ this biblical view ‘as the correct position in respect to sexual orientation’.

[Syndicated Content]

Published on GayStarNews Read the original article

Author: Tris Reid-Smith

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