Is It Really Safe To Be Gay In The Dominican Republic?

While the criminal code does not explicitly prohibit homosexuality in the Dominican Republic, a staunchly Catholic country, it doesn’t address discrimination or harassment against sexual orientation or gender identity. Taking that into account, it’s pretty hard to believe people are “safe” to subscribe to the queer community, especially in the face of discrimination. But according to Leonardo Sanchez, LGBT activist and executive director of Amigos Siempre Amigos, it is.

READ: What You Should Know About The Dominican Republic’s ‘Ethnic Cleansing’

“We are trying to fight for equality with the heterosexual community,” Sanchez told HuffPost Live’s Josh Zepps. “Because, you know, gay [people] could lose their jobs if they show themselves as an openly gay person. If you are an openly gay person, maybe you cannot get the job you are in capacity to find. It is because of the stigma and discrimination.”

Yet Sanchez finds himself reaffirming the notion that gay individuals and cross-dressers are not only exempt from job security, but prone to physical harm. Not to mention, the National Police Law of 1954 does prohibit police officers from engaging in homosexuality, which lends to the shame associated with being queer. “You might find someone who will bully you because there is a stigma and discrimination that still exists for many many persons in a country like [The Dominica Republic],” he added.

READ: Meet Vogue’s Breakout Star And Dominican Stunner, Lineisy Montero

Back in January, the British embassy tweeted that a Dominican man and his British partner had exchanged vows in Santo Domingo. The Caribbean nation’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Miguel Medina soon after issued a statement that said “our legislation does not recognize this type of marriage.” The chairman of the Dominican Council of Evangelical Churches added that the embassy ceremony “brings a curse to the nation.”

The U.K. announced in June that same-sex couples could marry at British consulates in 25 countries. The Dominican Republic is the only Caribbean nation on that list. Embassy officials say more same-sex ceremonies will be performed in the future.