Gay man slams 'horrendous' ordeal
Published 24/03/2012 | 04:12
An American man said he and his partner were taunted, humiliated and subjected to inhumane treatment when they were arrested and jailed after being escorted off a gay cruise in the Caribbean this week.
Dennis Jay Mayer, 53, said that he has no doubt they were arrested in Dominica because they were gay.
Police said it was because they were seen having sex in public on the balcony of their ship cabin, but Mayer said they were not having sex, but were "partially clothed".
Mayer, a retired deputy sheriff, spoke in San Juan, where he and his partner of 17 years, John Robert Hart, arrived after being released following their guilty plea to indecent exposure.
"The total experience was horrendous," he said. "They told us that they did not like us, that they did not like gay people." Dominica is among several Caribbean islands that have laws prohibiting sex between men.
After being ejected from the ship, police drove the men to their headquarters, where they sat on a bench for nearly two hours without legal representation despite repeated requests, Mayer said.
After police took pictures and obtained fingerprints, a high-ranking officer began a nearly four-hour interrogation. The two men were charged with indecent exposure and put in a five-by-eight-foot cell to await an appearance before a magistrate.
"The treatment was inhumane," Mayer said. "We were detained for approximately 26 hours, and 19 of those locked in a cement cell, which had no running water, no toilet, no lights. It stunk of faeces and urine. It was infested with cockroaches, ants and bugs."
Mayer said police brought in government officials to look at them. "They paraded many people by to look in on us as if we were some type of animal, which was quite humiliating," he said. "People got great joy in the pleasure of taunting us."
On Thursday morning, police drove them to the courthouse in the capital of Roseau, passing through an angry crowd, Mayer said, adding: "They were chanting and banging on the police vehicle. I've never seen anything like this in my life, other than in movies. Both my partner and I really feared for our safety."