ROSEAU, Dominica -- Two men from California, passengers on a gay cruise organized by Atlantis Events, have been charged with buggery and indecent exposure in Dominica.
John Robert Hart, 41, and Dennis Jay Mayer, 53, of Palm Springs are expected to appear in court on Thursday morning after being arrested after debarking the Celebrity X Cruises ship, which was docked in Roseau, the Dominican capital.
Dominica law criminalizes same-sex sexual activity for gays and lesbians.
Authorities said that a person on the dock saw the two men having sex on the ship and called police.
If convicted of buggery, the men can be punished with imprisonment of up to 10 years, according to the Sexual Offences Act of 1998. And in the most extreme cases, punishment can include sentencing to a mental asylum. The second charge could bring punishment of up to five years.
Dominica News Online reported the arrests and said the news stirred the pot in Dominica, which is not known for being particularly friendly to the LGBT community. The online article was downright homophobic, quoting residents who condemned homosexuality.
"Gay cruise tourism has been a talking point around the region, with some islands more flexible than others about their approach to the matter," DNO wrote.
DNO reported that Hart is a retired police officer and Mayer is a personal assistant real estate agent, and it ran a photo of the men, escorted by police, leaving First Caribbean Bank after withdrawing money to pay for the court fine. Another photo showed a large crowd gathered behind police barricades, who appeared to be jeering at the men.
Rich Campbell, president of Atlantis Events, downplayed the incident and told The Associated Press that he expects the men to released Thursday on reduced charges. AP suggested the men would be fined $370 each and face up to six months in jail.
UPDATE: The AP reports that the two men pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of indecent exposure and fined $900 each. They were expected to be released today, and will have to catch up with the ship, which left port already.
Dominica, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and Barbados are among the Caribbean nations where homosexuality is frowned upon. The advent of gay cruises has riled up homophobia in those places. Yet, other island nations such as the U.S. Virgin Islands welcome gay travelers.