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05 April 2011

Comments

Prodigal Black Man

Rod,

Thanks for bringing this to my attention and that of the rest of your readers. As a first generation Dominican (Dominica is NOT the Dominican Republic) living in America, it's GREAT to know that my parents homeland and their progressive (and cute) Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, are intelligent enough to buck the homophobic trend set by other Caribbean islands.

Colin

Not so fast with the praise for Skerrit, Prodigal Dominican! In late 2008 after his health minister John Fabien spoke out in favour of decriminalizing homosexuality at a meeting of regional HIV authorities, the PM slapped him down when he got back home, saying buggery would never be decriminalized on his watch.
http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/news/142122_Figueroa-wants-buggery-law-repealed
http://www.dominica-weekly.com/more-on-aids-homosexuality-and-the-buggery-law-in-dominica/

All the more reason to acknowledge last month's UN move.

Prodigal Black Man

Colin,

What did Obama (initially a supporter of civil unions) say about his position on gay marriage after his administration decided not to continue defending DOMA (defence of marriage act)? Something like, 'my position on gay marriage is emerging?' Can't the same be said for Skerrit (emerging, not on the 'gay marriage' issue but on how to approach the gay topic and sell its moral legitimacy to a skeptical and homophobic Dominican society)?

If we can apply this 'emerging' view of Skerrit, the late 2008 date might also be paramount in understanding how Dominica signing the UN statement in 2011 is part of an emerging view that this particular country is able to take on the issue. As the writer of the JA article states:

"Minister Roosevelt Skerrit’s position when he stated that buggery will not become legal in Dominica as long as he is Prime Minister. Like with all politicians, PM Skerrit told the people what they wanted to hear –"


One year later, (after telling people what they want to hear), Skerrit's Dominica Labour Party wins 18 out of 21 seats in the national elections. And with that success as well as other social, infrastructural (new roads, international cricket at the stadium, night landing etc.)and regional economic successes (a SURPLUS!) that Dominicans have celebrated since the elections, conditions emerge where a politician like Skerrit can make certain political concessions without losing the goodwill of the people--concessions like taking a bold regional stance on a contentious issue like gay rights.

It's politics 101, if you ask me. It would have been easy for his administration to just go along with the rest of the Caribbean and not sign the statement. But the rest of the Caribbean may not have the political goodwill at the moment to make such a bold move that, although entirely moral, threatens to alienate them further from their electoral bases. So while I'm not expecting Skerrit to be anything other than a politician, I'm glad that, whatever inspired the signing, Dominica emerges from this as having distinguished itself on an international level as far more progressive than its peers. Bravo!

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