Gay Cruise Passengers 'Weren't Trying to Put on Show'

PHOTO: John Hart, 41, Dennis Jay Mayer, 43, both of Palm Springs, California, are seen in this police booking mug provided by the Dominica Police department, Thursday March 22, 2012.PlayDominica Police Department/AP Photo
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Two American men "weren't trying to put on a show for people" when they were spotted allegedly having sex on a cruise ship balcony while the boat was docked at a port on the Caribbean island of Dominica, where they were charged with "buggery."

The two pleaded guilty to indecent exposure Thursday, a reduction of the original charge. Gay sex, known as "buggery" on the island, is against Dominican laws. Public indecency and having sex in view of the public are also against the law there, according to police superintendent David Andrew.

Retired police officer Dennis Jay Mayer, 53, and his partner, John Robert Hart, 41 both of Palm Springs, Calif., were fined $4,000 and were released after they paid.

"This was a horrible experience," Mayer told Los Angeles television station KTLA.

"I'm not going to implicate myself one way or another, but we were charged with being naked on the balcony," he said.

The two men were led from court to a bank, where they withdrew money to pay their fine. A crowd of residents watched as they returned to pay the fine to a judge, who called them the rogues and vagabonds.

"I've never seen something like this," Mayer told KTLA. "I've never seen people chanting and protesting in the street. It was amazing."

"Me and my partner have been together for 17 years," Mayer said. "We weren't trying to put on a show for people."

Mayer toldKTLA that authorities wanted to have them medically evaluated.

"They were going to transport us to a medical facility and have us medically examined to determine if we had engaged in sexual activity," he said.

The two men were held in jail for 19 hours.

"No light, no water, no toilet," Mayor told KTLA, describing the small cement cell where they were held.

"We were taunted all night long. They paraded us around like we were some oddity," Mayor added.

Mayor said he and Hart were "frightened."

"We didn't know how to respond to them because we don't come from a world or country that prosecutes people for being gay," Mayor said.

Police in Dominica were alerted to the behavior by people on shore who could see the balcony, according to the police superintendent. Police then boarded the ship, which was docked at the Roseau port, and arrested the men.

Hart and Mayer were part of a gay cruise group from California sponsored by Atlantis Events, which runs gay tourism trips around the world and markets itself as the running largest gay cruise in the world. The group chartered a Celebrity Cruise ship for the trip to Dominica.

The cruise ship departed the island Wednesday, following the pair's arrests, and continued onto its next port-of-call at St. Bart's. The men are departing Dominica tonight, although it is unclear whether they will rejoin their tour group.

The president of Atlantis Events, Rich Campbell, told The Associated Press that the company would continue to visit Dominica in the future.

"Many countries and municipalities that gay men visit and live in have antiquated laws on their books," he said. "These statutes don't pose a concern to us in planning a tourist visit."

Neither Atlantis Events nor Celebrity Cruises responded to requests from ABC News for comment.

ABC News affiliate KTLA contributed to this report.