Nevis blocks gay cruise from docking

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MIAMI -- Authorities on the Caribbean island of Nevis denied docking privileges on March 23 to a cruise ship chartered by a Fort Lauderdale-based gay naturist club.

Reports vary as to the exact nature of the incident, but it is confirmed the Polynesia, a Windjammer Barefoot Cruises ship chartered by Gay Naturists International, diverted to nearby St. Barts after port officials from Nevis boarded the approaching ship, took the captain ashore for consultation and then ordered him to evacuate territorial waters immediately.

In a statement, Nevis tourism minister Malcolm Guishard vigorously denied the incident was anti-gay, claiming the craft, carrying 110 passengers and 35 crew, was ordered from the island because any and all public nudity is illegal under local St. Kitts and Nevis law.

Guishard added that after the same ship had docked at St. Kitts two weeks earlier, passengers were seen on area beaches in the nude and engaging in lewd and lascivious behavior.

It was made clear ... the ship would not be allowed to dock or anchor ... if [we] could not be guaranteed that guests on our shores would respect our laws and standards, the minister said in the statement. The decision to deny access ... had nothing to do with individual lifestyle choices.

But according to a spokeswoman for Source Events, the Miami-based event production company that chartered the ship on behalf of the gay nudist group, the ships captain was told explicitly during an hour-long meeting with port officials that homosexuality was both illegal and considered immoral on the island.

Port officials also cited the Christian celebration of Holy Week in denying the group docking rights and forbade cruise passengers from even swimming in Nevis waters, said the spokeswoman.

To contact reporter Kenneth Kiesnoski, send e-mail to [email protected].

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