Saturday, March 24, 2012

US men arrested on Atlantis Cruise ship in Caribbean speak out


Two gay men from California have spoken about their ordeal that began onboard an Atlantis Cruise ship in the Caribbean:

The trouble began shortly after the cruise ship Celebrity Summit docked Wednesday morning at Dominica in the eastern Caribbean. Mayer and Hart were in their room when they got a call from a cruise ship official.

“We were summoned that the captain wished to speak to us,” Mayer said. “We were caught off guard.”

Three cruise ship officials and six Dominica police officers were waiting for them. After police interviewed both men separately, the assistant captain spoke, Mayer said.

“At this time, we are going to eject you from the ship. We have zero tolerance toward your behavior,” Mayer recalled him saying.

Police drove them 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.

“He said: ‘You’re being arrested for being gay. We’re arresting you for the crime of buggery,’” Mayer said. “He said that other people said that we were engaging in homosexual sex. He repeated that several times. I told him I didn’t know why they would say that. I wasn’t doing that.”

Mayer said he was naked in his cabin and nearly naked on the balcony. “I was less partially clothed than I should have been.”

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 feces 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.

“They were chanting and banging on the police vehicle. They were screaming things,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life, other than in movies. Both my partner and I really feared for our safety.”

Once in the courtroom, Chief Magistrate Evaline Baptiste ordered the men to pay a nearly $900 fine after they pleaded guilty to indecent exposure. He called the two men “rogues and vagabonds.”

Police then drove them to the airport, Mayer said.
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