Dominica: HIV/AIDS Legal Network Official Says Anti LGBT Laws Drive HIV Epidemic


Senior Policy Analyst and Legal Advisor in the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network, Maurice Tomlinson has said that a few agencies have identified that laws such as section 14 and 16 of the Sexual Offences Act drives the HIV epidemic, because they force members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) community away from HIV prevention.

Section 14 of the Act is a sweeping law criminalizing gross indecency, while section 16 criminalizes buggery.

“UNAIDS and other agencies including PANCAP [Pan Caribbean Partnership Against HIV/AIDS] have identified that Laws such as section 14 and 16 of the sexual offenses act drives the HIV epidemic because they force members of the LGBT community away from effective HIV prevention, treatment and care intervention,” Tomlinson said during a recent news conference.

Tomlinson continued, “So one effect of that, for example is that men who have sex with men in Dominica have a disproportionately higher HIV prevalence rate, nearly 26 percent than the general population because they are unable to freely access prevention, treatment and care support intervention.”

He said the challenge that the group has taken up is being brought by a Dominican, “and we are very proud to support this claim.”

Tomlinson reiterated the claimant’s request that his identity be suppressed.

“So we are applying for a gag order and this is because the very small society of Dominica he feels will impede his ability to move about freely without any kind of interference while this case is working its way through the court,” Tomlinson stated.

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