"David-vs- Goliath Act"

Today, I received an emailed letter from Mr. Gregoire Nassief, the proprietor of the international award winning Secret Bay Dominica, reference the support of the anonymous gay man who is taking on the buggery laws of Dominica.

It was a well - thought up and interesting read with a thorough analysis of why he has sided with the “anonymous man” who says he lives each day in fear for his life.

Please see a copy of the letter below:

In Support of the Anonymous Gay Man Taking on Our Antiquated Sexual Offenses Act In a David-vs-Goliath act, a lone Gay Man is taking on the buggery laws of Dominica and by extension the English-Speaking Caribbean. 


Dear Editor,

This Anonymous Gay Man deserves my respect and has my full support.  What will it take for him to have your respect, your support?  He is not asking that you approve of his sexuality, only that you do not condemn him a criminal because of it.  I understand that the majority of Dominicans believe that homosexuality is unnatural and against God’s teachings, but does that justify its classification as a criminal offense?  We need to examine the moral vs. legal argument, come to terms with the evolving religious consensus, learn the tragic lessons from the Alan Turing story and decide for ourselves on which side of history we wish to fall: the side of hatefulness and intolerance or the side of love and understanding.


Moral Vs. Legal Argument


Has anyone noticed that Buggery did not make it into the ten commandments, but Adultery did?  Yet Adultery is not illegal but Buggery is?  Both are practiced by consenting adults.  One is a choice that destroys families and is very common.  The other is an expression of one’s sexuality, not a choice, and has no damaging consequences to society, yet is punishable by 12 years in Prison.  The bible specifically forbids fornication but the state does not classify it a criminal offense.  What about the Commandment "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me"?  Should we criminalize Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism, and sentence persons of these faiths to prison because their personal beliefs differ from ours?  Why is it then that we are so willing to support laws enacted more than 146 years ago and throw a man or woman in prison because of their sexuality?  No one is asking us to change our moral position on homosexuality – that may take generations - simply to agree that our laws are largely to protect us from each other (murder, theft, rape, abuse) and not to dictate what two consenting adults can or cannot do in the privacy of their bedrooms.  Our Anonymous Gay Man is not asking you to approve of his sexuality, only not to criminalize it.  Is that too much to ask?


Evolving Religious Consensus

Pope Francis recently said in his paper "On Love in the Family", "A pastor cannot feel that it is enough simply to apply moral laws ... as if they were stones to throw at people's lives." He urges more common sense, stating "By thinking that everything is black and white, we sometimes close off the way of grace and growth."  He emphasizes that "unjust discrimination" against gays and lesbians is unacceptable.  In a bold and admirable move, Bishop Gabriel Malzaire, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Dominica, called for the elimination of criminal penalties for homosexuality and an end to “all forms of violence” against LGBT people, stating “I wish to make it clear that the Catholic Church in Dominica adheres to the call of the Holy See in its statement to the 63rd session of the General Assembly of the United Nations on the Declaration of Human Rights, sexual orientation and gender identity, “to condemn all forms of violence against homosexual persons as well as to urge all States to take necessary measures to put an end to all criminal penalties against them. …” The Catholic Church maintains that free sexual acts between adult persons must not be treated as crimes to be punished by civil authorities.”  Neither Pope Francis nor Bishop Malzaire are asking that we change our beliefs, only that we do not use those beliefs to perpetuate violence against persons based on their sexual orientation.  Is it too much to ask that we put an end to the violence that our Anonymous Gay Man has suffered time and time again?

The Alan Turing Story

Alan Turin, the father of computer science and artificial intelligence, and the man who unravelled the Enigma code used by Nazi Germany that helped bring World War II to an end sooner, possibly saving thousands maybe millions of lives, was stripped of his job and chemically castrated after being convicted of gross indecency in 1952 for having sex with a man. Homosexual sex was illegal in Britain until 1967.  Turing killed himself in 1954, aged 41, with cyanide. He was granted a royal pardon by Queen Elizabeth II in 2013 for the criminal conviction that led to his suicide.  And just last week it was announced that his face will grace the UK’s £50 note, and will join former prime minister Winston Churchill, writer Jane Austen, and artist JMW Turner who are the faces of the new £5, £10, and £20 notes.  The life of a genius was brought to a violent end by a society that chose hatefulness and intolerance over love and understanding.  Our Anonymous Gay Man remains anonymous for fear that his life is brought to a violent end, or that he is confined to years in prison.  Have we no love and understanding?  Where is our humanity?  What wrong has this man done us?  What really is the crime?  

Which Side of History

In his statement, our Anonymous Gay Man says that these laws “not only incite and encourage hateful and violent conduct towards LGBT individuals” but also “condone police discrimination and inaction against such acts of harassment and violence”.  Whether Civil Rights or Gay Rights, don’t All Lives Matter?  Nelson Mandela said: “For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”  As history unfolds, let us continue to choose the side that respects and liberates, that removes chains, that ends discrimination.  Our Anonymous Gay Man may not represent your moral ideals, but he is not a criminal, and his courage and quest deserve your respect and support. 


Gregor Nassief

p.s. Congrats to Daryl Phillip & MiRiDom for their relentless commitment to the cause

 

Would you swim in one degree water?

By Jael Joseph

At the start of my summer vacation from school, I asked a question on facebook. The post said “If there is one thing you would like to see me do this summer, drop it 👇🏽”  I received a few responses including “grow your hair by itself” by Prinze St.Jbeaz, “learn to play golf” by Mayma Raphael and “ride a horse” by Faye kay Ray. The very first comment from Delroy Nesta Williams stood out. He wanted me to “swim in the Fresh Water Lake.” 

The Fresh Water Lake is the largest of Dominica’s lakes and is located in the community of Laudat, 2,500 feet above sea level. The lake is enclosed in lush green vegetation and exotic fauna. Most people wear a light jacket or sweater when visiting the lake. It is also accessible by vehicle and there is parking available.

I have been to the lake countless times but always secretly feared taking a swim, as the fog emanates a feeling out of Jurassic Park. I was certain a dinosaur creature or anaconda would swallow me up if I ventured into the dark waters. When Delroy suggested I go swimming, I decided to take up the challenge.




Erection for new health center

I couldn’t help myself and took a ride in the excavator’s claw to catch the view at my own risk! Why? To check out the view of the soon-to-be health center. Guess where? Next to my family home.

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Today, I witnessed a building I grew up living next to get demolished.

My father moved to Lambert Street back in the late 1970s and met this building there. At the time it was the community supermarket which sold everything and was owned by Mr. Masfred Royer and family. 

I was born a few years later and remember as a child playing hide and go-seek behind the building. When I was three, my father took over that business running a bar and grocery store. The shop was shut down after an incident there, placed in him the hospital with stab wounds across his back, chest and the number seven scar underneath his left eye. This building has stood in ruins since.

There was also a huge mango tree which grew next to the building called “Mango Roseau,” the only known tree in Vieille Case. Imagine a Roseau mango tree in Itassi City - only a Dominican would understand.

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It was emotional for me to witness the structure excavated to reveal a new view that included the mountain, but that is just for a short time as the construction of the new health center will begin in a few weeks.

A few neighbours came out to witness, what I call historic, some with the camera phones recording while the excavator dug out the mango tree that survived Hurricane Maria, and the remaining of the dilapidated building.

My mother worked in the community of Vieille Case as the district nurse before she died, and I remember her being on call, leaving at nights to head over to the health center, a short walk from our house to attend to patients. The new health center will now be less than 10 feet away from the house I grew up in. 










Emerald, it's not a Pool

By: Jael Joseph

 

That’s the name of the new movie cinema on island.

Last weekend, after over 15 years Dominicans got to sit in a cinema in air condition and enjoy a movie in Dominica. The island has not had a movie house since the original Prevos Cinemall shut down operations many years ago.

Venue: Emerald Movie Cinema in Roseau, Dominica

My family and I went to see Toy Story 4 on Saturday in the new Emerald Movie Cinema which opened its doors to locals on June 17, 2019.  The theatre is housed in the Prevos Cinemall, the original location of the last movie house. It was the first showing of the day and the venue was very clean.

Tickets: Cost

Children: XCD$14 Adult : XCD$22

I had avoided all press or propaganda about the movie theatre as I wanted to experience it for myself. We purchased our tickets for the 2 p.m showing. My children and I are regular movie goers and pay about CAN$8.00 on Tuesdays or $10.99 for a child’s ticket and CAN$13.75 adult ticket after applicable taxes. We walked into Emerald Cinema and got our seats. I went back to purchase popcorn.

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Food/ Drinks

I got three large popcorn and two sodas which came to XCD$30.00. My hands were full, so one of the attendants offered to walk in with me so I didn’t have to make a second trip. The pop-corn was just a bit on the salty side and tasted slightly stale.

Things I missed / Would have liked

I noticed there were limited accessibility for someone with a disability and the line to enter into the building  and to order food was a bit confusing. The lighting at the entrance of the seating can be improved as I almost fell when I missed the step.

Overall Experience

It was a full house and the movie started on time. So they definitely get brownie points for not being on West Indian time. The seats were comfortable and retractable with drink holders. The movie quality on the screen was crystal clear and had no audio or visual issues. The service attendants were all very pleasing and courteous. I was very much impressed with the price of the tickets which I believe is competitive considering the movie came out the night before.

I know my kids and niece enjoyed it!

My Rating

★★★★

They lost one star was simply because of the lack of visible wheelchair access and the popcorn being a bit too salty and stale.