(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.
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 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.
President, Atlantis Events, Inc.