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Dominican Republic: Situation and treatment of sexual minorities by society and authorities, including legislation, recourse and state protection available (2011-June 2013)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Publication Date 12 July 2013
Citation / Document Symbol DOM104484.E
Related Document(s) République dominicaine : information sur la situation des minorités sexuelles et le traitement que leur réservent la société et les autorités, y compris les lois, l'aide qu'elles peuvent obtenir et la protection que leur offre l'État (2011-juin 2013)
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Dominican Republic: Situation and treatment of sexual minorities by society and authorities, including legislation, recourse and state protection available (2011-June 2013), 12 July 2013, DOM104484.E, available at: https://www.refworld.org/docid/527a3f024.html [accessed 20 October 2021]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

1. Situation and Treatment

The US Department of State's Country Reports for Human Rights Practices for 2012 indicates that the "[t]reatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals ranged from ambivalent tolerance to staunch homophobia ... LGBT individuals often faced intimidation and harassment. Transgender individuals were particularly at risk of discrimination" (US 19 Apr. 2013, 35). El Caribe, a Santo Domingo-based newspaper, cites an advisor of the LGBT community in the country as saying that [translation] "'the discrimination is evident. Once we assume our homosexuality, we start to experience maltreatment by both authorities and society'" (9 May 2012). A 2012 alternative report on the situation of human rights of LGBT people in the Dominican Republic, which was presented to the UN Human Rights Committee by Coordinadora Lésbica, Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights, the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School, and Alianza GTH, similarly indicates that the LGBT population [translation] "continues to suffer acts of discrimination based on their sexual orientation [and] gender identity, particularly in the workplace" (Alianza GTH et al. Mar. 2012, para. 12). Coordinadora Lésbica is a group of lesbian organizations in the Dominican Republic (ibid., 1); Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights is an NGO based in the US that advances human rights of "endangered populations, particularly the poor, the isolated, and the displaced" (Heartland Alliance n.d.); the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School is part of its Human Rights Program and engages law students in human rights issues (International Human Rights Clinic n.d.); and Alianza GTH is a Dominican NGO comprised of several civil society groups and institutions to assist transgender and transexual men, gay men, and men who have sex with men (Alianza GTH n.d.a).

The Alianza GTH et al. report indicates that, in the last 10 years, institutions such as the Ministry of the Interior, the Police, the Catholic Church, and the media have made statements inciting [translation] "hatred and discrimination against the LGBT population with unchallenged impunity" (Alianza GTH et al. Mar. 2012, para. 9). The report further indicates that transgender individuals [translation] "face humiliations and violation of their right to privacy" when voting for elections because they have to go to the lines for male voters, as voting locations are sometimes seggregated by gender, or in certain instances women vote in the morning and men in the afternoon (ibid., para. 61).

Acento, a digital newspaper based in Santo Domingo, cites a social anthropologist in the Dominican Republic as saying during the Seventh National Forum on Human Rights [which took place on 17 May 2013 in Santo Domingo (Alianza GTH [2013])] that, based on her research, [translation] "school teachers and directors discriminate against young people who manifest their homosexuality" (Acento 17 May 2013). She also said that, on occasion, the young people are expelled, and that they are victims of bullying (ibid.). Dominicanos Hoy, a news source based in Santo Domingo, cites the executive director of Trans Siempre Amigas (TRANSSA), an NGO that advocates for the [translation] "respect and equality" of transgender people in the Dominican Republic (Alianza GTH n.d.b), as saying that the president of the Dominican Confederation of Volleyball, using [translation] "homophobic arguments," has prohibited homosexual players from "'sharing the court with children, adolescents, and adults affiliated with that organization'" (Dominicanos Hoy 22 Mar. 2012).

1.1 Freedom of Assembly

The Alianza GTH et al. report indicates that authorities "have denied [LGBT individuals] the right to freedom of assembly on several occasions since 2001" (Alianza GTH et al. Mar. 2012, para. 48). The report explains that, since the first gay pride parade in 2001, applications to organize gay pride celebrations by LGBT organizations have been rejected or delayed, and that these organizations have been pressured to substitute parades and large gatherings for small and informal meetings, which do not require permission from authorities (ibid., para. 49-50). The US Country Reports for 2012 similarly states that

[a]lthough official permits were granted for LGBT individuals to carry out activities in public spaces, these permits often included special conditions that prevented LGBT organizations from holding their events. Members of the LGBT community often gathered informally in public spaces, especially in Duarte Park of the colonial zone in Santo Domingo. However, formal activities of LGBT organizations were generally subjected to approval by the Community Board of Neighbors, an institution influenced by the Catholic Church and its conservative views on LGBT issues.

Since the first gay pride celebration in 2001, authorities have rejected or delayed subsequent parade requests by LGBT organizations. However, in July [2012] the LGBT community successfully held a gay pride parade, but participants encountered some resistance from the police, who allegedly argued that using public spaces for such activities brought shame upon the nation. (US 19 Apr. 2013, 36)

El Caribe reports that when [translation] "dozens of homosexuals" were celebrating International Pride Day on 28 June 2012, the police prohibited the use of the national flag during the event (1 July 2012).

1.2 Employment

The US Country Reports for 2012 indicates that, according to reports, LGBT persons are "not hired" (US 19 Apr. 2013, 35). In the report by Alianza GTH et al., the Executive Director of Amigos Siempre Amigos, an NGO that promotes programs and offer services related to HIV prevention (Alianza GTH n.d.c), expressed the opinion that

[translation]

due to use and custom, it is obvious that [LGBT] persons are expected to be ashamed of themselves or to hide their sexual preference - especially in the workplace. In many companies, in order for a person to obtain a promotion, they have to get married ... there are many unwritten norms like this that are implemented due to use or custom. (Alianza GTH et al. Mar. 2012, para. 13)

Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

El Caribe cites the Minister of the Armed Forces as saying that, according to the law, [translation] "'the Dominican Armed Forces prohibits the presence of homosexuals in their ranks'" (El Caribe 17 Sept. 2012). He indicated that when an homosexual soldier is found, a committee is convened to [translation] "determine the situation of the person according to how [he or she] was found and what did [he or she] do ... Anyone can do what [he or she] pleases in their private life, but within military facilities they cannot initiate activities that are against the moral and good customs'" (ibid.).

1.3 Health

The US Country Reports for 2012 indicates that LGBT individuals are sometimes denied access to health care services in both public and private hospitals, and that six cases were reported by the LGBT community during 2012 (US 19 Apr. 2013, 35). The report by Alianza GTH et al. indicates that there are no public policies in the country with respect to sexual and reproductive health for non-heterosexual women and transgendered men, and that they are discriminated against when they go to the doctor or to the emergency room (Alianza GTH et al. Mar. 2012, para. 20, 23). It also indicates that bisexual and transgendered women, as well as lesbians, are not offered information or adequate support for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases (ibid., para. 24). The report also indicates that young LGBT individuals can be [translation] "subdued to psychological treatments to correct some behaviours that are considered inadequate, [treatments that are influenced] by religious psychologists and psychiatrists promoting the cure for homosexuality" (ibid., para. 58). Additional or corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

1.4 Violence

Sources indicate that transexual individuals face violence (Dominicanos Hoy 22 Mar. 2012; US 19 Apr. 2013, 35) and discrimination (ibid.). According to the advisor of the LGBT community, between 2010 and May 2012, 17 homosexuals have been assassinated due to homophobia (El Caribe 9 May 2012). The Alianza GTH et al. report found that, between 2006 and March 2012, there have been 18 [translation] "hate-motivated" homicides of transgender individuals and only one of these has been successfully resolved by the justice system (Alianza GTH et al. Mar. 2012, para. 30-31). The report adds that with regards to many of the other homicides, [translation] "authorities have not even opened an investigation" and that "those responsible for the crimes continue to be treated with impunity" (ibid., para. 33).

Sources report the following cases of violence against LGBT individuals:

On 5 January 2013, a homosexual was stabbed to death at his home in San Cristobal by an unknown assailant (El Caribe 5 Jan. 2013).

On 20 November 2012, a transgender individual who used to work as a stylist and as performance artist was stabbed to death by an unknown individual (US 19 Apr. 2013, 36). The Police investigated the case but no additional information was available by the end of 2012 (ibid.).

Sources report the discovery of the body of a person who was a well-known transexual in the community at his home in El Batey de Sosúa (El Nacional 11 May 2011; TRANSSA 10 May 2011). The cause of death was not established but a five-gallon gas tank was found next to his head (ibid.; El Nacional 11 May 2011).

Information on whether these individuals were victims of a hate crime could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

2. Legislation

The US Country Reports for 2012 indicates that "[n]o specific law protects individuals against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity" (US 19 Apr. 2013, 35). Sources indicate that same-sex marriage is not allowed in the Dominican Republic (Freedom House 2013; Alianza GTH et al. Mar. 2012, para. 56). According to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association (ILGA), homosexual acts are legal in the Dominican Republic (May 2013, 20-21).

The Alianza GTH et al. report says that the Dominican Republic does not have legislation penalizing "hate crimes," including those based on sexual orientation (Alianza GTH et al. Mar. 2012, para. 28). The report also indicates that legislators have refused "repetitively" to provide the special protections available to other socially oppressed groups to members of the LGBT community (ibid., para. 34). According to the Executive Director of TRANSSA, [translation] "'Congress has not allowed the approval of legislative acts that go against what the Catholic Church considers a sin, such as homosexuality, transexuality, sex work, and abortion, among others'" (Dominicanos Hoy 22 Mar. 2012). El Caribe cites the Director of Amigos Siempre Amigos as saying that the Dominican Republic will most likely not pass a law against LGBT discrimination because the country [translation] "'is a society that has a Christian-Catholic foundation and those values are above everything'" (17 May 2012).

The Alianza GTH et al. report also indicates that even though there are laws that allow a person to change his or her name, [translation] "it is difficult, if not impossible, for [transgender individuals] to change their name to be consistent with their new gender" (Mar. 2012, para. 43).

3. Protection Available

According to Alianza GTH, [translation] "there are no public policies in the Dominican Republic that explicitly address the situation of LGBTs beyond those related to health issues" (Alianza GTH [2013]). The NGO also indicates that even health-related initiatives such as those that address HIV/AIDS were carried out after donor international organizations put pressure on the government (ibid.). Additional or corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

3.1 Police and Judiciary Responses

The US Country Reports for 2012 indicates that "NGOs reported that LGBT persons were reluctant to file official charges or complaints due to fear of reprisals or humiliation" (US 19 Apr. 2013, 35). According to the Alianza GTH et al. report, the LGBT community experiences difficulties when trying to access the justice system and the police do not provide them with assistance (Alianza GTH et al. Mar. 2012, para. 16). The report indicates that this community has been reporting cases of aggression, harassment, and homicide against its members and that in many cases, police officers and government officials have been involved (ibid., para. 22). An example provided by the Executive Director of Amigos Siempre Amigos indicates that the police make raids against, and detain without justification, members of the LGBT community under the argument that they [translation] "lack morals" (ibid., para. 35). He added that the police frequently extort members of the trans community that work in the sex trade, [translation] "'robbing them of their money and ... obligating them to have sex for free with [police officers]'" (ibid.). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

Acento [Santo Domingo]. 17 May 2013. Teresa Guerrero. "'Mi madre me dice que prefiere una puta a una maricona' (un testimonio)." [Accessed 20 June 2013]

Alianza GTH. [2013]. "Foro GLBT sobre derechos humanos." [Accessed 4 July 2013]

_____. N.d.a. "Alianza Nacional de Hombres Gay, Trangeneros, Transexuales, Travestis y otros Hombres que Tienen Sexo con Hombres (Alianza GTH)." [Accessed 10 July 2013]

_____. N.d.b. "Grupo Trans Siempre Amigas." [Accessed 8 July 2013]

_____. N.d.c. "Amigos Siempre Amigos, Inc." [Accessed 8 July 2013]

Alianza GTH, Coordinadora Lésbica, Heartland Alliance for Human Needs and Human Rights, and International Human Rights Clinic (Harvard Law School). March 2012. La situación de los derechos humanos de las personas lesbianas, gay, bisexuals y transgéneras en la República Dominicana. [Accessed 17 May 2013]

El Caribe [Santo Domingo]. 5 January 2013. "Matan homosexual de una puñalada en su casa." [Accessed 20 June 2013]

_____. 17 September 2012. Julia Ramírez. "Ministro FFAA señala dificultad de tener homosexuals en filas." [Accessed 20 June 2013]

_____. 1 July 2012. Julia Ramírez. "Homosexuales celebran orgullo gay con desfile." [Accessed 20 June 2013]

_____. 17 May 2012. Julia Ramírez. "Homosexuales de RD luchan por la pluralidad sexual." [Accessed 20 June 2013]

_____. 9 May 2012. Felivia Mejía. "La comunidad gay aboga por igualdad." [Accessed 20 June 2013]

Dominicanos Hoy. 22 March 2012. "Comunidad gay en RD: tolerancia, pero no aceptación." [Accessed 20 June 2013]

Freedom House. 2013. "Dominican Republic." Freedom in the World 2013. [Accessed 20 June 2013]

Heartland Alliance. N.d. "Mission and History." [Accessed 10 July 2013]

International Human Rights Clinic, Harvard Law School. N.d. "International Human Rights Clinic." [Accessed 10 July 2013]

International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Intersex Association (ILGA). May 2013. State-sponsored Homophobia. A World of Survey Laws: Criminalisation, Protection and Recognition of Same-sex Love. [Accessed 20 June 2013]

El Nacional [Santo Domingo]. 11 May 2011. José Rafael Sosa. "Asesinan travesti en Sosúa en Día contra Transfobia." [Accessed 20 June 2013]

Trans Siempre Amigas (TRANSSA). 10 May 2011. "Encuentran asesinada en su habitación reconocida transexual de Sosúa conocida como Naomi." [Accessed 20 June 2013]

United States (US). 19 April 2013. Department of State. "Dominican Republic." Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012. [Accessed 20 June 2013]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: Representatives of Amigos Siempre Amigos were unable to provide information within the time constraints of this Response.

Internet sites, including: Almomento.net; Al Tanto; Amnesty International; Despertar Dominicano; Dominican Republic - Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos, Ejército Nacional, Oficina Nacional de Estadística, Policía Nacional; ecoi.net; Factiva; GlobalGayz.com; Hechos de Hoy; Hoy Digital; Human Rights Watch; International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission; Minority Rights Group; Mundo Visión; Noticias SIN; Pink News; United Nations - Human Rights Committee, Refworld, ReliefWeb; Universidad Autónoma de Santo Domingo; Univisión.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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