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PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2013 5:43 pm 
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Dominican groups reject gay US ambassador nominee
28 June 2013
By EZEQUIEL ABIU LOPEZ

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In this undated photo released by the U.S. embassy in the Dominican Republic, newly nominated ambassador James "Wally" Brewster poses for a portrait in an unknown location. (AP Photo/US Embassy in Dominican Republic)

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) -- Religious groups in the Dominican Republic said Friday they are outraged by the nomination of a gay U.S. ambassador to the conservative Caribbean country.

James "Wally" Brewster would be the seventh U.S. ambassador in history to be openly gay, but opponents are asking the administration of Dominican President Danilo Medina to reject his nomination.

Rev. Cristobal Cardozo, leader of the Dominican Evangelical Fraternity, said he worried about the message that Brewster's presence might send. "It's an insult to good Dominican customs," he said. Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus Lopez, president of the Conference of the Dominican Episcopate, echoed similar sentiments. "You can expect anything from the U.S.," said Lopez, who is also the archbishop of Santo Domingo. Meanwhile, Vicar Pablo Cedano criticized the nomination as "a lack of respect, of consideration, that they send us that kind of person as ambassador." "If he arrives, he'll suffer and will be forced to leave," Cedano warned, without elaborating.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Daniel Foote said in a brief statement to reporters that Brewster was nominated because of his skills as an international businessman and his ideas on democracy and human rights. "Brewster arrives as an ambassador, he's not coming here as an activist for the gay community," Foote said.

Local gay and lesbian activists condemned the outrage, saying the words of religious officials were filled with hate. Nominating a gay man as ambassador should be viewed as normal, according to a statement by the umbrella nonprofit LGBT Collective. The groups' stance "contrasts with the silence maintained by prelates and pastors when it comes to sexual assaults on children," said Leonardo Sanchez, of the nonprofit gay group Friends, Always Friends.

Officials with Medina's administration have declined to comment on the issue. "It would be in bad taste for the state to comment on this nomination," said Cesar Pina, a judicial consultant to the presidency. The debate comes as activists prepare for an annual gay pride parade scheduled for Sunday in the capital of Santo Domingo, which has hosted the parade for about a decade.

Brewster is currently a senior managing partner for the Chicago consulting firm SB&K Global. He also was a fundraiser for Obama and an inaugural committee contributor.

Source: AP.

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2014 3:21 am 
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Rainbow flags stop traffic at Dominican Republic Gay Pride
25 July 2014
By Jean Paul Zapata

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Thousands of people participated in this year’s Gay Pride procession in the Dominican Republic on 13 July.

The Gay Pride festivities in the Caribbean island (between Haiti and Puerto Rico) re-launched in 2007 with just three cars in the procession.

This year an estimated 300 cars joined the caravan through some of the island’s main avenues as well as residential areas ‘for greater impact’ said photographer Carlos Rodriguez. Rodriguez, who has been photographing Gay Pride in the Dominican Republic since 2009, was on the streets this year again whizzing back and forth on his motorcycle capturing the pride goers.

‘We live in a society, in a macho and Latino culture, where you imagine people’s reactions are going to go one way. People were and have been more welcoming, as one might expect them not to be,’ Rodriguez told Gay Star News. ‘This year I saw people more excited, more receptive. You could see it was something not to be mocked, but to be enjoyed. Everyone seemed really happy that it was happening.’

Police, among members of the public and politicians, have been less than pleased in previous years with the Gay Pride procession. Last year the police stopped the caravan on numerous occasions, claiming a Dominican flag fashioned into a rainbow banner was a crime: Defacing a patriotic symbol. This year Rodriguez didn’t notice any Dominican flags in the procession. ‘The police has offered support for the procession for the past few years. Having them accompany us makes a difference.’

While same-sex unions are not legally recognized in the Dominican Republic, Gay Pride and related events help raise visibility of LGBTI issues.

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Source: GayStarNews.

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PostPosted: Sun Jan 11, 2015 4:45 am 
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victor wrote:
Dominican man weds partner thanks to UK embassy
31 December 2014

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) -- Same-sex marriage is banned in the Dominican Republic, but a man and his partner have exchanged vows in the first ceremony of its kind performed at the British embassy in the conservative Caribbean country.

The embassy tweeted on Tuesday that the Dominican government respected its right to perform the ceremony under the Vienna Convention and that the British government has recognized the marriage. Embassy officials said they have advised the Ministry of Foreign Affairs that additional ceremonies would be performed.

The couple was not identified, with the embassy saying only that it is a Dominican and a British man. Embassy officials tweeted a picture of the ceremony that showed only the hands of one man placing a wedding ring on the other.

The United Kingdom announced in June that same-sex couple could marry at British consulates in 25 countries, including the Dominican Republic. It is the only Caribbean country on that list. The U.K. parliament approved same-sex marriages in July 2013, and the law went into effect March of this year.

Source: AP.

Dominican government won't recognize gay marriage at UK embassy
1 January 2015

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) -- The Dominican Republic says it will not recognize a same-sex marriage performed for the first time in the conservative Caribbean country.

In a Thursday statement, Foreign Ministry spokesman Miguel Medina said "our legislation does not recognize this type of marriage." The statement comes two days after the British embassy tweeted that a Dominican man and his British partner had exchanged vows in its Santo Domingo offices.

The U.K. announced in June that same-sex couples could marry at British consulates in 25 countries. The Dominican Republic is the only Caribbean nation on that list. Embassy officials say more same-sex ceremonies will be performed in the future.

The chairman of the Dominican Council of Evangelical Churches said the embassy ceremony "brings a curse to the nation."

Source: AP.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 22, 2015 9:04 pm 
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Growing a penis at 12: the 'Guevedoce' boys of the Dominican Republic
By Dr Michael Mosely
20 September 2015

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Michael Mosely in Countdown to Life – the extraordinary making of you

I hated going through puberty; voice cracking, swinging moods, older brother laughing at me.

But compared to Johnny, who lives in a small town in the Dominican Republic, I had it easy. We came across Johnny when we were filming for a new BBC2 series, “Countdown to Life”, which looks at the consequences of normal, and abnormal, developments in the womb.

Johnny is known as a “Guevedoce”, which literally means, “penis at twelve”. And the reason he’s called that is because, like 1 in 90 of the boys in the area, he first started to grow a penis when he was going through puberty. Guevedoces are also sometimes called “machihembras” meaning “first a woman, then a man”. When they’re born they look like girls with no testes and what appears to be a vagina. It is only when they near puberty that the penis grows and testicles descend.

Johnny, who is now in his 20s, was once known as Felicita. He was brought up as a girl and remembers going to school in a little red dress. When he was young he would happily play with other little girls, but after the age of seven he started to change. “I did not feel good, I no longer liked to wear a skirt, and I was no longer drawn to play with girls. All I wanted to do is play with toy guns and boys”. When he turned obviously male he was teased at school because”, as he put it, “it is hard to imagine a girl that is now is a boy”.

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Johnny, who was seemingly born as a girl but turned into a boy aged seven

One of the first people to study this unusual condition was Dr Julianne Imperato, a Cornell endocrinologist. She travelled to this remote part of the Dominican Republic in the 1970s because of strange rumours about girls turning into boys. She eventually unraveled the mystery of what is going on and by doing so helped make a surprising medical breakthrough.

At conception we all inherit a set of genes from our parents that will, in time instruct our bodies to make us male or female. But for the first few weeks of our lives human embryos are neither. Instead we have a protrusion called a tubercle. If you’re genetically male the Y chromosome instructs the gonads to become testicles. They also send testosterone to the tubercle, where it is converted into a potent hormone called dihydro-testosterone This transforms the tubercle into a penis. If you’re female and don’t make dihydro-testosterone then your tubercle becomes a clitoris.

When Dr Imperato investigated the Guavadoces she discovered the reason they don’t have male genitalia at birth is because they are deficient in an enzyme called 5-α-reductase, which normally converts testosterone into dihydro-testosterone. So they appear female when they are born, but around puberty, when they get another surge of testosterone, they sprout muscles, testes and a penis. Apart from being slightly undersized everything works and the Guavadoces normally live out their lives as men, albeit with wispy beards and small prostates.

By a quirk of chance Dr Imperato’s research was picked up by the American pharmaceutical giant, Merck. They used her discovery to create a drug called finasteride, which blocks the action of 5-α-reductase. IT is now widely used to treat benign enlargement of the prostate and male pattern baldness. For which, I’m sure, many men are truly grateful.

Since he’s become male Johnny has had a number of short term girlfriends, but he is still looking for the love of his life. “I’d like to get married and have children, a partner who will stand by me through good and bad”, he sighs wistfully.

Source: Telegraph UK.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2016 9:42 pm 
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Dominicans see LGBT rights advancing with gay US diplomat
By EZEQUIEL ABIU LOPEZ
28 March 2016

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In this March 24, 2016 photo, Dennis Ventura, who is running for congress, greets residents as he campaigns in the Herrera neighbourhood of Santo Domingo Oeste, Dominican Republic. The 42-year-old former private school teacher is the the first openly gay person to run for his country's congress. (AP Photo/Ezequiel Abiu Lopez)

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) — Deivis Ventura is still just a candidate for the Dominican Republic's Chamber of Deputies, but he feels like he's already scored a victory.

The 42-year-old former private school teacher, the first openly gay person to run for his country's Congress, is delighted his campaign has not encountered overt hostility as it likely would have in the past. "It's an important moment for our country," Ventura said one recent afternoon during a break from campaigning with a transgender friend. "The fact that we have openly LGBT candidates in an important political party speaks of change."

Another openly gay man, Yimbert Telemin, is running in the May election for city council in La Romana, an area of famed beach resorts on the southeastern coast.

That they can run openly as homosexuals is the sign of a cultural shift that activists say has been helped by the presence of U.S. Ambassador James "Wally" Brewster, the first openly gay top diplomat the United States has posted to a Latin American country. Brewster's appointment angered some religious leaders and their followers in the Dominican Republic, but it was an important move for people who've long felt marginalized in the conservative Caribbean country. "Wally has become an iconic figure in the LGBT movement because the movement does have strong local figures," said prominent activist Alexander Mundary.

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In this March 15, 2016 photo, a sign hangs at a Catholic primary school with the message in Spanish: "The entry of Mr U.S. Ambassador is not permitted at San Juan the Baptist Institute," in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. The appointment of U.S. ambassador James "Wally" Brewster, the first openly gay top diplomat the United States has posted to a Latin American country, angered some religious leaders and their followers. (AP Photo/Ezequiel Abiu Lopez)

Dr. Victor Terrero, director of the National Council on HIV and AIDS, noted that Brewster and his husband have been guests of President Danilo Medina and the ambassador has hosted many of the country's notable figures. "The presence of the ambassador has contributed to the breaking of much of the stigma," Terrero said. "It has shown in a way that (homosexuality) is not a sin, nor is it something to get crazy about."

Representatives of U.S.-based Human Rights First said every person they met with before issuing a December report on the status of LGBT people in the Dominican Republic mentioned Brewster in their conversations. "Everyone seemed to think, even if they had mixed feelings about it, that overall it was a net positive," said Shawn Gaylord, a lawyer for the group who works on LGBT issues. "The presence of Ambassador Brewster has really spurred a larger conversation."

The Dominican Republic does not have laws criminalizing homosexuality as numerous English-speaking Caribbean countries do. But the U.S. State Department said in its annual human rights report that non-governmental organizations who work with LGBT people in the country have reported widespread discrimination in health care, education, the justice system and employment. Ventura says he was dismissed from his teaching job when he came out as gay in 2008 and others tell similar stories.

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The Human Rights First report said transgender people are vulnerable to violence in the country, with several dozen suspected hate-crime murders since 2006. A bill that included an article prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation failed in the Congress amid opposition to a provision for sex education in primary school. Terrero is coordinating an effort to get a bill that would bar any form of discrimination, including based on sexual orientation, before lawmakers in the coming weeks. "The Dominican LGBT population has woken up," said Telemin, a 36-year-old attorney and activist. "People aren't afraid now."

Earlier this month, about 20 businesses came together to form the first LGBT chamber of commerce, with support from USAID. "Ten years ago we would never even talk about it," Francisco Castillo, the president of the new chamber, said of homosexuality. "It was shameful to even mention it, we preferred to avoid the subject."

Brewster was guest of honor at the chamber's March 2 inauguration ceremony, prompting a wave of angry denunciations. Fidel Lorenzo, a pastor and leader of an evangelical Christian organization, accused Brewster of trying to promote homosexuality and led efforts that collected more than 31,000 signatures for a petition calling on President Barack Obama to remove the ambassador. Catholic officials also denounced the American diplomat, temporarily putting up a sign at one school that said he could not enter.

The ambassador, who had been a prominent fundraiser for Obama, encountered similar condemnations starting weeks before his arrival in November 2013 with his husband, Bob Satawake. But the Medina government accepted his credentials and business has apparently carried on as normal between two countries that have long had warm relations.

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The U.S. Embassy did not respond to a request by the Associated Press for an interview with the ambassador. Brewster dismissed his critics in a radio interview. "I think it's a small group," he said. "People who are just haters and want to marginalize others."

Ventura said he has encountered only signs of support so far. He is running in the party of the main opposition presidential candidate, Luis Abinader, and his chances of victory are uncertain in his busy, industrial district. But he is optimistic about both his prospects and those of the Dominican Republic. "The country keeps getting better in terms of human rights and I, as a gay man, can exercise my right to be a candidate," he said. "People are supporting me, and they are supporting my candidacy."

Associated Press writer Ben Fox in Miami contributed to this report.
Source: AP

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