Last edited: March 25, 2005

Caribbean Island Turns Away Gay Nudists

PlanetOut, March 24, 2005

By Christopher Curtis

SUMMARY: Port officials turned away a clothing-optional gay cruise from the Caribbean island of Nevis. The captain was told that being gay was “against the laws” of the island.

Port officials turned away a clothing-optional gay cruise from the Caribbean island of Nevis on Wednesday.

A police patrol boat stopped the Polynesia, a Windjammer Barefoot Cruise ship carrying 110 passengers, as it approached Charlestown, Nevis. The ship was chartered by the clothing-optional group Gay Naturists International for a six-night cruise of the Caribbean.

The ship’s captain, Cornelius “Casey” Plantefaber, told the Associated Press (AP) three officers boarded the ship and demanded he accompany them to a meeting onshore.

The one-hour meeting included port authority, police, customs and immigration officials.

According to Source Events, the Miami-based gay travel company that organized the trip, Plantefaber was told, “This is a Christian community, and being gay is against the laws and morality of the island—especially during Holy Week. You may not even swim in our waters.”

Oral Brandy, acting general manager for the Nevis Port Authority, told the Miami Herald that he agreed with the captain’s recollections, but said Holy Week had nothing to do with it.

“If it had happened at another time of the year it would be the same thing,” he said.

“We don’t discriminate as such,” Brandy said. “If people come to the island and they are gay, we don’t get into their personal aspects and find out if they are gay,” he said. “We recognized that they were naked on board, most of them, and they wanted to come ashore like that.”

“We just didn’t want it because it’s illegal, really, to have that kind of activity in Nevis,” Brandy said.

Sharon Kersten, the spokesperson for Source Events, disagreed with Brandy’s claim that passengers would be nude when leaving the ship. “Every one of the passengers has been told to be totally respectful,” she said in a quote published by the AP.

“This is obviously a human rights issue,” she told the Miami Herald.

The acting executive director of International Gay and Lesbian Travel Association (IGLTA), John D’Alessandro, told the PlanetOut Network that he “did not make a lot out of what happened.”

“Nevis has been gay-friendly and welcomed gay charters in the past,” he said, adding that the minister of security “assures me this is an issue of nudists. This is in no way an issue with gay people.”

Government spokesman Erasmus Williams told the AP that while sodomy is illegal in Nevis, “We welcome all visitors. We’ve had gay ships in St. Kitts in the past, and the visits have gone off without problems. I’m surprised that Nevis officials didn’t let them in.”

Captain Plantefaber said he was “disgusted” with what happened. As he was leaving Nevis for St. Barthelemy, Plantefaber described his experience to the AP by phone. “I’ve been sailing for 24 years and have captained gay cruises before, and I’ve never encountered anything like this.”

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