minister Roosevelt Skerrit said Thursday he will meet with
evangelicals in the Carribean island nation who are seeking
restrictions on gay cruises, which have drawn some
protests elsewhere in the Caribbean. Dominica has no
restrictions on the tours, but Skerrit told the
Associated Press that he will meet soon with the Evangelical
Association to outline the government's position on gay
cruises stopping at the island.
''I will make a
statement on the issue after my meeting with the members
of the Evangelical Association,'' he said.
Bill Daniel, the
group's president, said Skerrit had not contacted him to
schedule a meeting--which the association had
demanded. ''We want the government to ensure that gay
tourists do not come to the island and conduct
themselves in any immoral way,'' he said, adding that he did
not want Dominica portrayed ''as a gay tourist
Dominica, a lush
island of mountains and waterfalls that bills itself as
the ''nature island of the Caribbean'' and where parts of
the Pirates of the Caribbean movies were filmed,
relies heavily on tourism revenues, as do many other
countries in the region.
One of the
poorest countries in the Caribbean, Dominica attracted
250,230 tourists over the first six months of the
year--an increase of roughly 50,000 from the
same period last year, according to the trade ministry.
Tourism officials have sought an increase in cruise calls to
boost tourism to Dominica, and they have tried to
distance themselves from the evangelicals' position.
''We don't have
any problem with gay cruises coming to Dominica,'' said
Francisco Esprit, a board member of the Dominica Taxi
Association. ''We see it as part of the business, and
we are yet to receive any negative comments from our
members about gay tourism.''
At least one gay
cruise has stopped in Dominica. No gay cruises are
scheduled to stop at the island through early next year,
said Peter George, head of shipping at H.H.V.
Whitchurch and Company, the agent for cruise ships
stopping in Dominica.
image as a sun-and-surf playground, many Caribbean islands
remain socially conservative. Protesters held a small
demonstration against a gay cruise stopping in
February in the Cayman Islands, which refused in 1998
to allow a gay cruise to dock. The U.K. territory adopted
a nondiscrimination policy in 2001 that bars it from
blocking gay cruises.
A cruise ship
carrying lesbians that docked in the Bahamas was met by
protesters in 1998. (AP)
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