It’s Not All Sunshine & Beaches for LGBTQ+ in the Dominican Republic

LGBTQ+ Pisqueya

LGBTQ+ Pride Month is observed in June around the world, celebrated in both the United States and the Dominican Republic in the forms of parades, marches, and festivals. It’s a time of fun, recognition, and self-expression. This year for Pride Month, we would like to shed light on the injustices people of the LGBTQ+ community face in the Dominican Republic, along with the progress the country has made over time.

We stand with the LGBTQ+ community because everyone should be entitled to the same rights regardless of who they love. We must come together to fight against the violation of social, healthcare, economic, and cultural rights of all people. Although society has come a long way and LGBTQ+ people have recently gained more visibility and acceptance, there is still a lot of work to do all around the globe.

LGBTQ+ Dominicans, in particular, face discrimination and exclusion in multiple ways. The majority of the Dominican Republic shares conservative views, opposition to homosexuality being one of them, due to the paramount role the Catholic Church plays within the country. Because of this, political parties have not expressed enough support for LGBTQ+ rights legislation.

Below is a brief timeline of how things have played out over time:

  • 1822

–  Consensual same-sex sexual acts between adults in private are decriminalized in the Dominican Republic. However, it is still illegal within the police force.

 Public displays of affection between same-sex adults are illegal.

  • 1930-1961 – The Trujillo Reign

 The dictatorship uses propaganda to cast homosexuality as evil, labeling LGBTQ+ members as enemies of the government. Accusing someone of being gay tarnishes their reputation and crucially affects their lives and those of their family. Trujillo weaponizes this label to mark political opponents and their supporters, whether they are gay or not. As a result, people are losing their homes, jobs, and getting killed.

 On July 17th, 1944, same-sex marriage is unrecognized by the Dominican Republic. The constitution states that marriage is a union between a man and a woman.

  • 1997

 Homosexuality is decriminalized. There’s an amendment to the Criminal Code, repealing the law criminalizing any public displays of affection between same-sex couples. 

  • 2001

 The first Gay Pride Parade takes place in Santo Domingo on July 1st. There were smaller celebrations before now, but this marks the start of many to come.

  • 2007

 Homosexuality is legalized in the Dominican Republic. However, there are no laws to protect LGBTQ+ members from discrimination in the areas of healthcare, education, employment, and housing.

 The Pride Parade is officially recognized in the Dominican Republic.

  • 2010

–  Same-sex marriage is officially banned in the Dominican Republic. A new constitution is reenacted, and it includes a prohibition on same-sex marriage. There are constitutional scholars who dispute the interpretation of this article as a ban on same-sex marriage, however, it is prohibited in practice.

  • 2012

–  Members of the police force arrest marchers at the LGBTQ Pride Parade in Santo Domingo on the grounds that they’re using the Dominican flag inappropriately.

  • 2014

–  The National Chief of Police reiterates that LGBTQ+ people are still prohibited from serving as members of the police force. 

  • 2015 

–  A new Penal Code is expected to take effect, banning hate crimes based on sexual orientation. However, the court deemed the reform unconstitutional. 

  • 2018

–  Transgender people in the Dominican Republic are not allowed to change their legal gender and name to reflect their gender identity. However, the President grants 35 transgender Dominicans the ability to change their name to match their gender identity.

–  The Inter-American Court of Human Rights pronounces that the American Convention on Human Rights mandates and requires the recognition of same-sex marriage. The ruling is accepted by Costa Rica, where they stand as a model of progress for the Dominican Republic and other Latin American and Caribbean countries.

  •  2022

 The Dominican Republic still does not recognize any legal status between persons of the same sex, whether it be marriage or civil/domestic partnerships.

–  The annual LGBTQ+ Pride parade, full of life and pizzazz, continues to serve as both a celebration and prompt to the Dominican government that there is still a community of LGBTQ+ individuals and supporters present, demonstrating their determination to see a country that values all human life.

–  The Santo Domingo Pride Parade, the biggest Pride Parade in the DR, is held on the last Sunday of June (Pride Month). Learn more about the Santo Domingo Pride Parade here. The Santiago Pride Parade usually happens on the weekend before or after.

–  The LGBTQ+ scene is lively across multiple areas in the Dominican Republic, with more residents becoming more accepting.

Dominican citizens who identify as LGBTQ+ continue to face intimidation, harassment, violence, stigmatization, alienation, and inequality. They do not enjoy all of the same human rights that heterosexual people do. They are usually cornered into prostitution, are not allowed in the military, and cannot adopt a baby as a same-sex couple. 

Although public opinion still weighs heavily against the LGBTQ+ community in the DR, strides have been made toward acceptance and more Dominicans are embracing being open-minded. The LGBTQ+ scene is more active than it has ever been in the Dominican Republic and there are several areas in the country deemed LGBTQ+ friendly, from the city of Santo Domingo to Punta Cana. There are hotels, bars, and other events hosted specifically for the LGBTQ+ community –  here are a handful. There are also several non-profit organizations in place that are fighting these injustices, check out a few below:

 Run by activists who support LGBTQ+ rights

–  Addresses the health concerns among the LGBTQ+ community

–  Promotes respect, fairness, and acceptance of the transgender community

To our LGBTQ+ friends – like Chris Colfer once said, “there is nothing wrong with you, there’s a lot wrong with the world we live in.” We must all continue in the fight for human rights – as long as there are people treated unequally, we aren’t really free. Let’s remember that love and compassion will get us far and celebrate this Pride Month to show support and demonstrate hope for a better future, filled with fairness, visibility, and freedom. 


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