Dominican LGBTI community demands Congress revise penal code

Santo Domingo, Jul 5 (EFE).- Representatives of the LGBTIQ+ in the Dominican Republic on Monday demonstrated in front of the National Congress in Santo Domingo to demand that the draft of the Penal Code law approved by the Chamber of Deputies be rectified to ensure nondiscrimination against them for their sexual orientation.

The group rejected the law approved on June 30 by the lower house and asked that it be modified in the Senate to guarantee protection for the rights of the country’s homosexual, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, intersexual and queer citizens.

The executive director of the Colesdom non-governmental organization, Rosalba Karina Crisostomo, demanded that the new Penal Code “guarantee the protection of all Dominican male and female citizens without distinction.”

Last Wednesday, the Chamber of Deputies excluded from the Penal Code as crimes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender.

Lawmakers also eliminated those items from the list of aggravating factors in murder and torture cases, although the LBGTIQ community says that including them could protect its members against homophobic violence.

The lower house also included a paragraph in the law that stipulates that “No discrimination shall exist when a service provider or contractor refuses (to provide services) on the basis of conscience, religion, ethics, morals or due to institutional requirements.”

If this text is approved by the Senate, people who refuse to provide service to a person or to hire a person for any reason may not be prosecuted if they base their refusal to provide service on religious beliefs.

In the Monday protest, lawmaker Juan Dionicio Rodriguez Restituyo, with the Broad Front, said that “many lawmakers, especially the young ones, have refused to be part of a small group of people who call themselves nationalists, but who are really fascists and who have imposed a culture of hate.”

This is the second demonstration to be held before the National Congress since the Penal Code law was approved and the queer community has convened another demonstration for the same reason next Sunday.

The Penal Code also has sparked controversy because it only allows abortion in one case – where there is risk to the life of the mother – and it does not include other situations like rape or deformity of the fetus, as local feminists have been demanding for decades.


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