Dominica is a multiparty parliamentary democracy. In the December general election, Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit’s Dominica Labour Party (DLP) prevailed over the opposition United Workers Party (UWP) by a margin of 18 seats to three. The prime minister is the head of government. The House of Assembly elects the president, who serves as the head of state. Election observers from the Organization of American States (OAS), United Nations, and Caribbean Community found the elections generally free and fair in their preliminary reports.
The Ministry of Justice, Immigration, and National Security oversees the Commonwealth of Dominica Police Force, the country’s only security force. The Financial Intelligence Unit reports to the Ministry of Legal Affairs, and some of its officers have arrest authority. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the security forces.
Significant human rights issues included: criminalization of libel; and criminalization of consensual same-sex sexual activity between adults, although there were no reported cases of enforcement during the year.
The government took steps to prosecute officials who committed human rights abuses, but some cases remained unresolved.
Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Consensual same-sex sexual activity for both sexes is illegal under indecency statutes. The law also prohibits anal intercourse between males. In July an anonymous citizen, backed by the Canadian HIV/AIDs Legal Network, filed a lawsuit challenging the portions of the Sexual Offenses Act that criminalize specific sexual activity between same-sex partners. The purpose of the lawsuit was to have the statutes declared unconstitutional. The government reported it rarely enforced either statute, with no instances of the law being enforced through October. Indecency statutes carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and same-sex sexual conduct between consenting adult men carries a maximum penalty of 10 years. No laws prohibit discrimination against a person based on sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or sex characteristics in employment, housing, education, or health care.
Anecdotal evidence suggested that strong societal and employment discrimination against persons due to their real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or sex characteristics was common. Civil society organizations reported that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) victims of violence or harassment avoided notifying police of abuse because of social stigma. Stigma and fear of abuse and intimidation prevented LGBTI organizations from developing their membership or conducting activities such as Pride marches.
Section 7. Worker Rights
d. Discrimination with Respect to Employment and Occupation
The constitution specifically prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, place of origin, skin color, creed, or political opinion. The government generally enforced this provision. There were no government programs in place to prevent discrimination in the workplace and no penalties to deter violations.
Discrimination in employment and occupation occurred against women and persons with disabilities. Discrimination also occurred based on sexual orientation. The law permits employers to pay lower wages to persons with disabilities.