Ships in Dominica dock at the end of a long pier

With the arrest of two men on an Atlantis cruise in the harbor in Dominica, the question isn’t whether they were having sex, as police claim, or just sunbathing nude, as the couple claims. The question is why a gay cruise is visiting islands where homosexuality is illegal, rewarding these places with tens of thousands of dollars of purchases on each visit when there are more places in the Caribbean where homosexuality is legal and places that even recognize same-sex marriage.

And whether or not they were engaging in sexual activity, the couple was told, “You are being arrested for being gay,” according to the Washington Post. As far as the police on Dominica were concerned, every person on that ship was guilty of crime. Why didn’t they arrest them all? Because they wanted them to come ashore and spend a lot of gay dollars.

While the Caribbean has an anti-gay reputation, the laws vary from island to island. Actually, homosexuality is perfectly legal in more places than not. The differences range from recognizing same-sex marriage to life in prison. Most perplexing, perhaps is that on some islands, lesbians are legal and gays get 10 years in prison.

French and Dutch territories have the longest history of nondiscrimination. Puerto Rico’s laws were struck down along with Texas’ sodomy law in the 2003 Lawrence v. Texas decision.

One other thing — in Dominica, the ship does not dock at the shore, but down a long pier. Someone on shore was looking for trouble with binoculars to catch this couple. See which islands welcome the LGBT community after the jump:

Same-sex sexual activity is illegal on these islands along with the possible penalty:

  • Antigua and Barbuda: 15-year prison sentence
  • Barbados: life sentence
  • Dominica: 10-year prison sentence
  • Grenada: Male illegal. 10-year prison sentence. Female legal
  • Jamaica: Male illegal. 10 years hard labor. Female legal.
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis: Male illegal. 10-year prison sentence. Female legal
  • Saint Lucia: Male illegal. Fine and/or 10-year prison sentence. Female legal.
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines: Fine and/or 10-year prison sentence.
  • Trinidad and Tobago: Penalty: 25-year prison sentence.

Homosexuality is legal on these islands:

  • Anguilla since 2000
  • Aruba never been illegal
  • British Virgin Islands (Tortola, Virgin Gorda and more than 50 other islands) since 2000
  • Cayman Islands since 2000
  • Cuba since 1979
  • Dominican Republic
  • Guadeloupe since 1791
  • Haiti since 1986
  • Martinique since 1791
  • Montserrat since 2000
  • Puerto Rico since 2003
  • Turks and Caicos Islands 2000
  • United States Virgin Islands (St. Thomas, St. John, St. Croix) since 1984


In Aruba, same-sex marriages performed in the Netherlands are recognized. Guadeloupe and Martinique, where homosexuality has been legal for more than 200 years, both have pacte civil de solidarité or civil unions and allow gays and lesbians to adopt. Cuba has pending same-sex marriage legislation.

Hate crimes

U.S. hate crime laws apply in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The British Virgin Islands, Guadeloupe and Martinique have anti-discrimination laws based on sexual orientation. Gender identity and expression are not included in those statues.