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LGBT rights in the Dominican Republic

LGBT rights in the Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal[1][2]
Discrimination protections No
Family rights
Same-sex marriage constitutionally banned

Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons in the Dominican Republic may face legal challenges not experienced by non-LGBT residents. While the criminal code does not expressly prohibit homosexuality or cross-dressing, it also does not address discrimination or harassment on the account of sexual orientation or gender identity. Household headed by same-sex couples are also not eligible for any of the same rights given to traditional married couples.


  • The Right to Privacy 1
  • The Right to be Free from Discrimination 2
  • The Right to be Free from Harassment and Violence 3
  • The Right to Access Health Care Services 4
  • The Right to Marry and Found a Family 5
  • Public Attitudes 6
  • Prostitution 7
  • NGOs 8
  • Summary table 9
  • See also 10
  • Notes 11
  • External links 12

The Right to Privacy

Homosexuality between consenting adults in private has been legal in the Dominican Republic since 1822. The age of consent is equalized regardless of sexual orientation to 18. This does not apply to members of the police force or the military.

The National Police Law of 1954 does prohibit police officers from engaging in homosexuality, and a similar ban exists on members of the military. [3]

Article 330 of the criminal code does criminalize any act that is deemed to be in violation of "decorum and good behavior" in public with fines and up to 2 years imprisonment. This particular law has sometimes been used by police officers to harass, fine or jail gay couples who engaging in public displays of affection.

The Right to be Free from Discrimination

Discrimination on account of sexual orientation or gender identity is not illegal in areas such as employment, education, housing, health care, banking, transportation, government services and public accommodations. As a result, many LGBT people feel the need to remain in the closet and reports of anti-gay discrimination are quite common.[4]

The Right to be Free from Harassment and Violence

The Dominican Republic does not have a hate crime or bias motivated crime law that includes sexual orientation or gender identity. Yet, LGBT people in the Dominican Republic are often the targets of harassment, violence and even murder.

From 2006 to 2009, official sources reported the murder of at least 14 transvestite sex workers.[5]

Although bias motivated crimes have also been reported against LGBT people from the middle and upper classes, such as Micky Breton, a TV producer and Claudio Nasco.[6]

Other prominent people who have been targeted for such violence include film director Jean Luis Jorge, journalist Víctor Gulías, Dr. Jesús Díaz Almánzar, William Cordero.

In 2014, Van Teasley, a visiting American lawyer, was found murdered in his Santo Domingo apartment. [1]

The Right to Access Health Care Services

Citizens of the Dominican Republic have a Constitutional right to access health care services. Health care programs for the LGBT community in the Dominican have generally focused on AIDS/HIV education, which are often run by non-governmental organizations.

The Right to Marry and Found a Family

The Dominican Republic does not legally recognize marriage between persons of the same-sex, civil partnerships or domestic partnership arrangements. In additional to the Dominican's family law, the Constitution was amended in 2010 to expressly ban legal recognition of same-sex marriage.[7]

Public Attitudes

The socially conservative mores of the Catholic Church and evangelical Protestant denominations hold significant sway in both public policy and prevailing attitudes surrounding LGBT rights. Recent reports suggest that signs of a visible, politically active LGBT community are often targets of a government crackdown, often with the support of religious leaders.

In the summer of 2006, several gay clubs and bars in Santo Domingo were shut down at the request of the Dominican Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez Rodriguez.[8]

Efforts to organize a LGBT pride parade in the Dominican Republic have been blocked by the government's, which refuses to give the organizers a permit or, as happened in 2012.

In 2012, members of the police department crashed the LGBT Pride Parade in Santo Domingo and arrested individuals at the parade on the ground that marchers were, somehow, improperly using the Dominican Republic's flag.[9]

According to Pew Research Center survey, conducted between November 2, 2013 and February 2, 2014 25% of respondents supported same-sex marriage, 72% were opposed.[10][11]

Due to the majority of residents having conservative views, including opposition to homosexuality, the major political parties in the Dominican Republic have not expressed much public support for LGBT rights legislation.


Prostitution has become a harsh necessity for some members of the LGBT community, who find it difficult to earn their living in the formal economic sector because of high levels of discrimination and harassment that LGBT people often face. Poverty, drug addiction and violence often surround the men and transgender people who become prostitutes.[12]


Amigos Siempre Amigos (translates to Friends Always Friends) is one of the main non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the Dominican Republic that promotes the human rights and dignity of the LGBT people.

Summary table

Same-sex sexual activity legal Yes (Since 1822)
Equal age of consent Yes
Anti-discrimination laws in employment No
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services No
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas No
Recognition of same-sex couples No
Same-sex marriage No (Constitutional ban since 2010)
Step-child adoption by same-sex couples No
Joint adoption by same-sex couples No
Gays allowed to serve in the military No
Right to change legal gender No
Access to IVF for lesbians No
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No
MSMs allowed to donate blood No

See also


  1. ^ State-sponsored Homophobia A world survey of laws prohibiting same sex activity between consenting adults
  2. ^
  3. ^ [2] Archived 23 January 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Ismael Ogando. Factores de incidencia en la conducta antisocial de los jovenes homosexuales del Centro Historico de Santiago de los Caballeros. Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo, 2007.
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ (Spanish) Constitución Política de la República Dominicana, proclamada el 26 de enero 2010, Publicada en la Gaceta Oficial No. 10561, del 26 de enero de 2010.
  8. ^ Blabbeando: Dominican Republic: Gay bars shut down
  9. ^
  10. ^ Religion in Latin America Chapter 5: Social Attitudes
  11. ^ Religion in Latin America Appendix A: Methodology
  12. ^

External links

  • Georgetown University
  • ILGA:Dominican Republic
  • Suprema Corte de Justicia Constitution of D. R. (Spanish)
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