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Why Did Atlantis Events Cruise to a Homophobic Country Where Two Gay Men Were Arrested?

Why Did Atlantis Events Cruise to a Homophobic Country Where Two Gay Men Were Arrested?

by Karen Ocamb on March 22, 2012

(UPDATED 3x) Wednesday night, March 21, KCBS News, the local CBS News affiliate in Los Angeles, lead their news-heavy broadcast with the story out of West Hollywood about how two gay men had been arrested for “buggery” (sodomy) by Dominican police on their Celebrity Summit cruise ship docked off the small Caribean country.

Initial reports said John Hart, 41, and Dennis Mayer, 53, of Palm Springs were having sex in their cabin on board the ship but had not drawn their curtains and were spied from the dock engaging in gay sex. “Someone” complained and the police arrested the two men on suspicion of “buggery” and indecent exposure.  AP reported Thursday pleaded guilty to indecent exposure and were fined nearly $900. They were expected to be released Thursday.  Fox News reported that the ship with 2,000 departed for St. Bart, leaving the two gay men behind “in a cell at police headquarters in the capital of Roseau.”

UPDATE: Atlantis posted on their Facebook page that the men were having sex “on their balcony in full public view of the port and town.” Please see the full statement below.

Dennis Jay Mayer, 53, and John Robert Hart, 41, plead guilty to indecent exposure after having been arrested for sodomy on a cruise ship balcony docked off Dominica (Photo via The Dominican Net)

UPDATE 11:00am: The Dominican Net reports the two were fined $888 and:

Police Chief Cyril Carette said the decision was made to drop the buggery charges saying “they could have been charged with buggery but because it is a very long process, we decided that it was in our best interest to deal expeditiously with the issue and get the individuals out of our island as quickly as possible.”

“People coming to our island must be in conformity with our laws and if these laws are violated they must be prepared to suffer the consequences,” Carette said.

UPDATE 11:31am: AP reports:

The men’s attorney, Bernadette Lambert, said they were remorseful.

“They were struck by the beautiful mountains, the clean and clear fresh air and were having a few cocktails, and so threw caution to the wind,” she told the court.

Chief Magistrate Evaline Baptiste ordered the men to pay a nearly $900 fine after calling them “rogues and vagabonds.” They made no comment after the hearing and police drove the men to the airport after they were released.

Travel agent Jess Kalinowsky told KCBS Channel 2:

“Number one, the travel agent should have told their clients about these destinations. And number two, Atlantis should have told the clients about the destinations. And number three, the clients should have kept their windows shut.”

The real question is: why would the WeHo-based Atlantis Events cruise to anywhere near Dominica, Jamaica, the Bahamas or the Cayman Islands where they know sodomy has long been illegal?

Fox News reported an interview with President Rich Campbell, who is aboard the cruise:

“Many countries and municipalities that gay men visit and live in have antiquated laws on their books,” he said. “These statutes don’t pose a concern to us in planning a tourist visit.”

Campbell said he expects the two men to be released on Thursday and that they only face misdemeanor charges.

“The guests’ actions were unfortunate but minor in this case and have no bearing on our overall guest experience,” he said via email.

He also said that the company would “happily return” to Dominica.

Fox also reported:

The presence of gay cruises in the Caribbean has riled several conservative islands including Jamaica and Grenada, where anti-sodomy laws are enforced with strong backing from religious groups.

According to Cruisemates.com, no gay cruise lines sail to Jamaica or Barbados for fear of homophobia and possible violence. It said other places like the U.S. Virgin Islands welcome gay cruises.

In 2010, the Cayman Islands rejected the arrival of an Atlantis gay cruise amid protests from religious groups even though homosexuality is legal on the archipelago.

Don Weiner, a spokesman for Atlantic Events, referred all questions to Campbell, including why the company organized a trip to Dominica and whether it knew about the island’s anti-sodomy laws.

Elizabeth Jakeway, a spokeswoman for Celebrity Cruises, referred all questions to Atlantis.

 The full statement by Atlantis:

Please accept my apology for the late post, we have been at sea for the past 18 hours with limited internet access.We appreciate the comments on this board regarding the incident in Dominica yesterday, but would sincerely ask that most of you get the facts correct before condemning Atlantis or Dominica for what happened. Here are the facts:Yesterday morning around 9:30 am two of our guests were seen engaging in a sexual act outdoors on their balcony in full public view of the port and town. Not only did many of the residents witness the act, several of our guests saw this incident as well. The local authorities responded to a complaint by several residents. The two gentlemen were arrested on a misdemeanor charge of public indecency and detained overnight. They appeared in front of the local magistrate this morning, paid a small fine, and were released in full.

Please understand that the complaint and subsequent arrests had nothing to do with the guests’ sexual orientation, nor was any “anti-gay” law invoked. These guests were engaged in behavior that is inappropriate in any port of call, or major city for that matter.

The guests were never left on their own. We had both representatives from Atlantis and Celebrity cruises with them at all times during their ordeal and had our local representatives look after them last night. Furthermore, we worked closely with the US Embassy in Barbados to assure that their safety was always being monitored.

Atlantis had 2000 guests in port yesterday in Dominica and most of them had an outstanding time visiting the country. Celebrity Cruises has been extremely supportive, working with Atlantis to insure these guests’ safety and security despite their detention in Dominica. We commend them for their unwavering support through this incident.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Rich Campbell
President, Atlantis Events, Inc.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Kevin Davis March 22, 2012 at 11:05 AM

The past tense of plead is “pled.”

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Karen Ocamb March 22, 2012 at 11:38 AM

Thanks. Changed it to pleaded….

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Paul Castellano March 22, 2012 at 11:06 AM

Thank you for your intelligent article, some comment from the owner, he really has a lot of nerve, I don’t think all of his customers past, present and future would agree they would happily return to Dominica based on this situation.

I posted the following on a site before coming across your article:

The real disgrace here is Atlantis Events, the company chartering the ship, taking a cruise ship full of their well paying gay passengers to an island where they would be targeted for being who they are, gay, is an absolute outrage. When booking an Atlantis Cruise or vacation we all expect the company to put our safety and security first and take us to places we are welcome.

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Karen Ocamb March 22, 2012 at 11:37 AM

Thanks for you note. As you can see – I’ve updated the piece with what the president posted on Atlantis’ Facebook page. I wish he’d been more “thoughtful” when talking and emailing the mainstream press.
But the question – as you, too, note – is still why are gay people giving gay dollars to homophobic countries???

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Sylvain November 3, 2013 at 3:59 PM

Atlantis Events is now organizing a cruise from Bali to Singapore on Seabourne…don’t they ever learn!

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Timothy Kincaid March 22, 2012 at 12:48 PM

Karen, you nailed it, as you so often do.

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Karen Ocamb March 22, 2012 at 12:53 PM

Thank you, kind sir….

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Vanessa Koritsi March 22, 2012 at 2:47 PM

While, within reason, I see nothing wrong with nudity and public sex acts (gay or otherwise), the two men should have had the sense to keep their sexual activity within closed doors or somewhere secluded or private. Also, ignorant countries, just like ignorant people, should learn to live and let live. Nothing should be illegal that is not harmful to the doers, and, especially, to other people.

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rob March 22, 2012 at 4:21 PM

The morons in Dominica can’t even feed themselves or control violence on their cesspool island, and they’re worrying about a boy liking another boy or a girl liking another girl? LOL. You’d think they’d spend their scant resources on something more productive. Homosexuals around the world need to start taking WHATEVER actions are necessary to secure their human rights. It is patently unfair that gays and their families suffer from the devastating effects of discrimination, while the bigots leave their lives as if nothing has happened. Bigots need to be made to pay for their discriminatory actions. And shame on Celebrity Cruises and Atlantis for giving support to such a disgusting, backward society like Dominica or letting Dominican authorities on board the ship. And by the way, if those gay Americans are sent to jail, the judge, jailers, and politicians (and their families) that send them there, and Randy Rodney, should be attacked and people all over the world should attack Dominica citizens in their countries. Start with embassy personnel.

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Steve Patrick March 22, 2012 at 4:40 PM

I’ve been on 2 Atlantis cruises and, yes, the guys can sometimes act a little outrageous. I think Atlantis kind of encourages that. I can see where one would feel safe and free on the ship and maybe not think clearly (alcohol helps with that) that when you are docked it’s a different sort of situation. One gets a little high on being in such a gay environment. That would be like telling gay men to not take any clothes off at the SF Freedom Day Parade…

That said, I love Campbell’s response. “They appeared in front of the local magistrate this morning, paid a small fine, and were released in full.” What is he, running for the Republican nomination? $900 is a “small fine”?

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Karen Ocamb March 22, 2012 at 5:41 PM

I’m struck by Campbell saying he’d “happily return”….

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Brian March 22, 2012 at 9:38 PM

It is a bit rich for a company whose advertising is sex-based, and whose tagline is “Do you cruise?” expressing shock and horror at the idea that its passengers and clientele (who pay thousands of dollars for the promised “sexual playground” that is advertised) expect their safety and well-being to be taken into account.

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Lillypad_d March 22, 2012 at 9:00 PM

The problem here is mainly that the men broke the law and were arrested. It’s not like they were unaware of such laws, and where in the US do people straight or gay go having sex in public? It’s unfortunate that more people seem to be focusing on the buggery laws rather than the fact that these men broke the law, whether its for buggery or indecent exposure. It is also not the first time that people get arrested in a foreign country for breaking the law. Try having sex in public in Dubai or some country with their so-called ‘antiquated’ laws and expect the same results. And similarly, if I travel to the US and decide to smoke pot then if caught (and depending on my location) I expect to be punished. I also do think that sometimes we are too ethnocentric so we think people with different laws than we do are morons, backwards, ignorant and the list goes on…reminds me of a point in our not so distant past. What makes us so learned and them so backwards because as far as I can see gays are still in the fight for equality

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Brian March 22, 2012 at 9:36 PM

According to the two victims, there were no “sex acts” at all:

http://metroweekly.com/elsewhere/2012/03/arrested-atlantis-passengers-set-to-leave-dominica.html

“According to Dominica News Online (DNO), which covered the court hearing this morning, the two told local police, “We were naked on the balcony, but we were not having sex.”

Witnesses told the court the two men were seen fondling. Sex between men is illegal in the island nation.”
—–

Further, the men were not permitted to cross-examine their accusers.

If I were the men, especially considering the defamatory statement that I was “having sex in full view on the balcony,” I’d consider a defamation suit against Atlantis and the executive who made the claim in a California court.

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Dominican Citizen September 14, 2012 at 8:38 AM

OK let me set the RECORD straigh;-) no pun intended. According to the photograph that were circulated. They were on the balcony in plain sight with out any pants or underwear on, one was leaning against the wall and the other had his body pressed against his butt. It there was intercourse the photo did not depict that. AND THAT IS THE FACTS.

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Tyler June 11, 2013 at 12:51 PM

If a straight couple was a on a cruise and hanging on their balcony pressed up against each other naked, that would not fly either.

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