Press statement

UNAIDS welcomes Court’s ruling to protect the rights of LGBTQ people in Dominica

22 April 2024 – UNAIDS welcomes the decision of the High Court of Dominica to protect the rights of LGBTQ people in Dominica.

Today the Court ruled that sections 14 and 16 of the Sexual Offences Act (SOA), which had criminalised consensual same sex activity between adults, are unconstitutional under the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Dominica. The Court ruled that the former provisions violated the right to liberty which is guaranteed by section 1(a) of the Constitution, freedom of expression which is guaranteed by sections 1 (b) and section 10 (1) and protection of personal privacy which guaranteed by section 1 (c).  

In a decision by Justice Kimberly Cenac-Phulgence on a claim brought by a gay man, the Court found that:

“criminalising sexual relations between consenting adults of the same sex as effected by sections 14 and 16 of SOA is an unjustifiable restriction on the constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of expression in a free and democratic society”.

Equally powerfully, the court accepted that the right to protection of privacy of the home encompasses:

“private and family life and the personal sphere which includes one’s sexual identity and orientation as well as intimate activity with a partner of a person’s choice. Therefore Sections 14 and 16 of the SOA contravene the Constitution in so far as they intrude on the private home life of an individual by proscribing the choice of consenting adults as to whom to engage in intimate sexual activity with,  and are therefore, void.”

Dominica is the sixth country in the Caribbean in which powerful community action has resulted in the removal of the criminalisation of same-sex relations. As well as advancing human rights for everyone including LGBTQ people, this legal progress will also advance public health for everyone. The series of rulings made across the Caribbean are helping the region to speed up its progress towards zero new HIV infections, zero AIDS-related deaths and zero discrimination for affected people.

Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS, said:

“Today another Caribbean Court has struck down the harmful old colonial punitive law which had criminalised LGBTQ people. Dominica’s ruling is a win for public health as well as for human rights. Protecting the human rights of all people is essential to protect the health of all people. Courts, as the guardians of written Constitutions which enshrine fundamental rights, are vital pathways for the realisation of everyone’s rights.”

UNAIDS congratulates Dominica and especially honours the fortitude of frontline communities in Dominica for leading the movement for the human rights of all people.


The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) leads and inspires the world to achieve its shared vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths. UNAIDS unites the efforts of 11 UN organizations—UNHCR, UNICEF, WFP, UNDP, UNFPA, UNODC, UN Women, ILO, UNESCO, WHO and the World Bank—and works closely with global and national partners towards ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030 as part of the Sustainable Development Goals. Learn more at and connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.