Is Saint Lucia Safe and Welcoming for LGBTQ Travelers?

20 11 2017

Dominic Fedee, tourism minister for St. Lucia in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine

The Honorable Dominic Fedee visited New York this month with his marketing and public relations team to launch a new campaign for St. Lucia and to assure Americans that this lush Caribbean nation was not affected by recent hurricanes. The small country depends on tourism, and he asserts that “The best way to help the Caribbean is to visit the Caribbean.”

In St. Lucia, as in a number of Caribbean countries, same-sex relations between men are illegal though there are no laws against lesbians. We caught up with Minister Fedee to ask him whether LGBTQ visitors are welcome in St. Lucia. The interview, below, is part of a series with senior tourism leaders about LGBTQ travelers, including our recent interview with Jamaican Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett, MP.

Interview with the Honorable Dominic Fedee, Saint Lucia’s Minister of Tourism, Information and Broadcasting by Ed Salvato

ManAboutWorld: Sometimes the LGBTQ media cites the Caribbean as an example of a region that is unfriendly or unwelcoming for gay travelers. Would you say LGBTQ traveler are welcome in St. Lucia?

Dominic Fedee: Well, everyone is welcome in St. Lucia. Absolutely. I can tell you there is a comprehensive constitutional review taking place in a number of Caribbean countries. Sometimes the books don’t reflect the pulse or where the population is and a lot of our law is based on old antiquated British law. For example, capital punishment is still in the books. You must remember that we are small jurisdictions. A lot of us only got independence in the ’60’s and ’70’s, and we don’t have the economic might to reform our legislation and make the changes necessary to move forward as fast as we would like.

But the question is, “As humans, how do we appreciate differences in one other? How do we respect each other and not allow those differences to divide us?” I think that is the key. I don’t think any of us will be extreme about any position. I think it is our responsibility to be patient and understanding with them and to keep giving them opportunities to understand us.

ManAboutWorld: Do you think that is a sentiment shared by yours fellow St. Lucians, especially in the hospitality industry, for customer-facing service workers? It feels like that may be the culture there.

Dominic Fedee: Well, I worked in the hospitality industry. I had 16 long years in the specific company and we welcomed many gay couples, and it is a practice.

ManAboutWorld: Is the government giving serious consideration to removing antiquated anti-sodomy laws? It sounds like the country doesn’t necessarily have the resources to move as quickly as it wants.

Dominic Fedee: Well, there’s a lot of discussion and debate. I mean I just got back and two weeks ago, the news was talking about whether marijuana should be legal — another subject that divides us. Also whether capital punishment should be legal. So it’s not just about same-sex marriage.

ManAboutWorld: A lot of countries and marketers are seeking gay travelers for the economic and social benefits that the group provides and the positive PR message it sends by welcoming them. Does St. Lucia actively seek to attract LGBTQ travelers?

Dominic Fedee: No, though everyone is welcome. I think of tourists are tourists. I don’t want to differentiate between Muslim and Black and White and Christian and fat or gay and straight. We welcome everybody.

ManAboutWorld: I interviewed a couple of hotel marketers in St. Lucia and one thing that came up a was that there seemed to be restrictions on marriage officiants blessing same-sex couples because they’re afraid that they could have their license revoked. Is that something that an officiant should be concerned about?

Dominic Fedee: Well, in the absence of a definitive policy, I can understand one would be cautious. I mean even in this interview — I can’t remember my cabinet ever sitting down together to talk about this specific problem. We have discussed the judicial system in general but we have not looked at whether we look specifically at gay marriages or marijuana. When do we make them legal? That discussion has taken place whether we disregard capital punishment. In some jurisdictions, that has been outlawed. It will take a lot of time for the Caribbean.

ManAboutWorld: Let me ask you this final question. Hospitality companies and brands are among the most progressive in the world, scoring high in the Human Right Campaign Corporate Equality Index which rates most large hotel companies 100% in terms of their support for their LGBTQ customers and employees. Is St. Lucia’s hospitality industry looking at LGBTQ issues in terms of any sort of sensitivity training or awareness as far as you know?

Dominic Fedee: We have a very active civil society group and we leave that — it is still a contentious issue even here in the United States. And so civil society drives that and I can’t remember government ever actively taking it on. I think the St. Lucian LGBTQ movement is very courageous. [editor’s note: Led by executive director, Kenita Placide of United & Strong (LGBTQI) St. Lucia.] I wish it all the best. It’s very welcoming and that’s why I love democracy where people can default on different things and people can still respect each other’s differences and people must not allow those differences to divide them. But the differences in us should inspire us and the differences in us should — we should all take away from the differences in us.

St. Lucia in ManAboutWorld gay travel magazine

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Help Rebuild LGBTI Lives in the Caribbean through Alturi

14 09 2017

Help Rebuild LGBTI lives in the Caribbean through Alturi via ManAboutWorld gay travel magazineMost relief work in the Caribbean is administered by religious organizations, which often leaves LGBTI people without help. Our friends at Alturi show a way to directly fund the Caribbean’s most vulnerable communities:

From Alturi: In the Caribbean it can be extremely difficult to reach members of the LGBTI community, but in the wake of Irma’s destruction, reach them we must. Alturi is raising funds for CVC: Caribbean Vulnerable Communities. CVC has worked for 12 years to better the lives of the Caribbean’s most vulnerable communities, who in this case are even more vulnerable than before.

Emergencies often exacerbate prejudices and make marginalized people more vulnerable. In the 2008 Haiti earthquake, CVC witnessed first-hand the challenges faced by gay men who were blamed for the disaster by fundamentalist religious groups, and were denied food and water aid due to a ration plan that excluded households without females.

HELP REBUILD LGBTI CARIBBEAN LIVES 

CVC and The Rustin Fund are offering support through their Emergency Relief Fund to people who have suffered from hurricane Irma. This Fund will help CVC’s partner organizations provide desperately needed vital services that address immediate basic needs for people who suffer discrimination. Please donate today, your help will help those who most need it after the destruction of hurricane Irma.

HOW YOUR DONATION HELPS

  • $15 – Provides Emergency Food and Water
  • $25 – Provides Emergency Clothing for Dislocated Folks
  • $50 – Helps Locate Long-Term Shelter
  • $100 – Supports On-the-Ground Organizers Assist Those in Need
  • $250 – Helps Rebuild the Homes of Dislocated Folks
HELP REBUILD LGBTI CARIBBEAN LIVES 




Couchsurfers Take Note: AirBnb Launches in Cuba

3 04 2015

airbnbcuba

More than 1,000 beds have opened in Cuba, according to this article from the AP, with 40 percent of them in Havana.

“The popular online home-rental service Airbnb will allow American travelers to book lodging in Cuba starting Thursday in the most significant U.S. business expansion on the island since the declaration of detente between the two countries late last year,” said the AP.

 





San Juan Spring Break is Coming!

5 03 2015

As seen in ManAboutWorld, the gay travel magazine

 

 

An update from our beloved correspondent, Harvard student and frequent traveler, Allister Chang:

From the team that perfected “guerilla” takeovers of straight clubs, comes gay spring break San Juan 2015! On March 25-29 The Welcoming Committee (TWC) will bring LGBTQs from eight different cities to Puerto Rico. Whether you go by yourself, with a partner, or a group of friends, you’ll meet dozens of new people, and — if my past experiences with TWC events have taught me anything — leave a trail of glitter across the entire island. Read the rest of this entry »





So You Want To Go Cuba? 6 Gay Ways To Get There

27 02 2015
Cuba, as seen in ManAboutWorld, the gay travel magazine

Old Town Havana, Cuba

Thanks to President Obama’s recent initiative to thaw relations with our geographically near (yet ideologically distant) neighbor, it’s a little easier to go but restrictions remain in place, specifically with respect to pure leisure tourism — it’s still not legal for Americans, who must travel under a general or specific (i.e., an application and a case-by-case determination) license (visa). The main changes include an expansion of general licenses to allow 12 categories of travel without specific approval, and the use of credit cards. Don’t expect to hop on a plane, grab a hotel and hit the beach on your own just yet. There is a lot of good information about travel to Cuba, including this comprehensive Q&A in The New York Times Read the rest of this entry »





A Gay Guy’s First Trip To Cuba

25 02 2015

As seen in ManAboutWorld, the gay travel magazine

Our friend Steven Bereznai — travel writer, personal trainer, and the author of numerous books, including Gay and Single…Forever? 10 Things Every Gay Guy Looking For Love (and Not Finding It) Needs to Know — chimes in with a fascinating piece from his trip to Cuba this past January. (He’s Canadian and has the legal right to travel there as a tourist from Canada.):
 “Don’t book anything less than a 4 star.” “The food will be terrible.” “The booze will be watered down.” “Your all inclusive won’t include drinkable water.” “The resort won’t look like the brochure.” “Tip everybody.” “The locals will want to marry you.”




Curacao Becomes Cura-Now!

14 08 2014

curacaoNot everywhere in the Caribbean is gay-friendly (we’re looking at you, Jamaica!) but Dutch-owned Curacao is among the gayest of all the islands, and next month they celebrate their 2nd annual Gay Pride. From September 24-28, the small island of charming European architecture, cute boys, and 35 beaches, celebrates the LGBT lifestyle in the region. Go for the fun, the UNESCO World heritage Sites, the boys and the colors and the turquoise water. This is one of the most unique and lively prides in the world.

The charming, adults-only Floris Suite Hotel is the host hotel for Curaçao Pride and centrally located to all the events.







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