Karen Ocamb

Gay Cruise Couple Say Dominica Police Treatment Was 'Inhumane'

Filed By Karen Ocamb | March 27, 2012 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Atlantis cruises, buggery, Dennis Jay Mayer, gay sex, John Robert Hart, sodomy charges

KTLA reporter David Begnaud interviewed retired sheriff's deputy Dennis Jay Mayer, 53, about the experience he and his partner of 17 years, John Robert Hart, endured after being arrested and jailed for allegedly having gay sex while docked off the coast of the homophobic Caribbean country last week.

Meyer also spoke with the Associated Press after they arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico:

"The total experience was horrendous," he said. "They told us that they did not like us, that they did not like gay people."....

After police took pictures and obtained fingerprints, a high-ranking officer began a nearly four-hour interrogation.

"He said: 'You're being arrested for being gay. We're arresting you for the crime of buggery,'" Mayer said. "He said that other people said that we were engaging in homosexual sex. He repeated that several times. I told him I didn't know why they would say that. I wasn't doing that."

Mayer said he was naked in his cabin and nearly naked on the balcony. "I was less partially clothed than I should have been."

During the interrogation, the police official threatened to take them to a clinic and have them medically examined for proof of homosexual activity, Mayer said.

"He said, you know, we're looking for specific things, fluids, bruising, things of that nature," Mayer said.

After making the threat, the official left the room, then came back saying they had a right to refuse the test, Mayer said.

The two men were charged with indecent exposure and put in a five-by-eight-foot cell to await an appearance before a magistrate.

"The treatment was inhumane," Mayer said. "We were detained for approximately 26 hours, and 19 of those locked in a cement cell, which had no running water, no toilet, no lights. It stunk of feces and urine. It was infested with cockroaches, ants and bugs."

Mayer said police brought in government officials to look at them.

"They paraded many people by to look in on us as if we were some type of animal, which was quite humiliating," he said. "People got great joy in the pleasure of taunting us."

On Thursday morning, police drove them to the courthouse in the capital of Roseau, passing through an angry crowd, Mayer said.

"They were chanting and banging on the police vehicle. They were screaming things," he said. "I've never seen anything like this in my life, other than in movies. Both my partner and I really feared for our safety."

Police drove around the block twice to avoid the crowd and journalists. Officers formed a barricade with their bodies and urged Mayer and his partner to run into the courthouse and not stop.

"It was very frightening," Mayer said.....

He said he would never return to Dominica.

"I would not spend my money in a country that does not support gay behavior," he said. "Shame on us for not doing our research."

However, Colin Robinson, executive director of a Trinidad-based gay rights group, warned against labeling the entire Caribbean as homophobic. He said a heterosexual couple in the same situation would have been charged as well.

"Things are not as bleak as the journalists in the U.S. like to paint the Caribbean as being," he said.


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