Island Denies It Refused Cruise Ship Because Passengers Were Gay
March 25, 2005
By The Associated Press
BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS—The St.
Kitts and Nevis government said Friday it barred a gay and nudist cruise from
stopping in Nevis because of concerns of illegal public nudity on shore, not
because the passengers were gay.
Port authorities stopped a Windjammer Barefoot Cruises
ship carrying 110 mostly American passengers and 35 crew early Wednesday
(story) as it approached the port in Nevis’s capital, Charlestown. The
decision led to charges of homophobia.
Nevis Tourism Minister Malcolm Guishard said in a
statement Friday that when customs officials boarded the ship, they found most
of the passengers naked and the captain couldn’t guarantee they would be
clothed on shore—something the captain has denied. Public nudity is illegal
in St. Kitts and Nevis.
The decision to bar the ship “was made, very simply,
because our authorities were not given reasonable assurance that these
passengers ... would respect our constitutional laws and standards of public
decency here in the Federation,” Guishard said.
“If this ship had been chartered by a heterosexual
clothing-optional group, our decision would have been exactly the same,” he
A statement from the St. Kitts and Nevis Ministry of
National Security, Justice, Labour and Immigration said customs officials who
boarded the ship found that “persons were not only nude on board but also
nude on the vessel’s gangway.”
But the ship’s captain, Cornelius Plantefaber, told The
Associated Press on Wednesday he had reassured authorities the passengers
would respect local mores and regulations.
The S.V. Polynesia, a 75-metre, four-mast schooner, had
previously stopped in St. Maarten and Anguilla without incident. The six-day
cruise began Sunday in St. Maarten and ends in the Dutch Caribbean territory
The St. Kitts and Nevis government wants to dispel the
image that the Caribbean island is homophobic. Human rights advocates have
increasingly criticized rampant homophobia in the Caribbean, brought out in
the anti-gay lyrics of Jamaican singers like Sizzla, Beenie Man and Buju
Sodomy is illegal in St. Kitts and Nevis, as it is in
several other Caribbean countries, and it can lead to a jail term.
A former British colony of 40,000 residents, the
two-island country has a federal government whose capital is in St. Kitts.
Nevis is semiautonomous.
Windjammer Barefoot Cruises is based in Miami Beach,
Fla., and the gay/nudist cruise was organized by Miami-based company Source
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