Religious groups join legal fight to keep anti-sodomy laws on the books in Jamaica

new maurice tomlinson

Nine religious organisations now have the chance to defend anti-buggery laws in a constitutional motion filed by Jamaican gay activist and attorney-at-law Maurice Tomlinson.


KINGSTON, Jamaica, Friday July 8, 2016 – Not only will gay rights activist and attorney-at-law Maurice Tomlinson have to fight the government to get the anti-sodomy laws scrapped, but now he’s up against religious groups as well.

The Jamaica Supreme Court this week gave the nod for nine religious groups to be interested parties in the constitutional motion which he has brought against the Attorney General to have the 1864 Sodomy Law nullified in cases of adult consensual sex.

On the other hand, Public Defender Arlene Harrison Henry’s request to be included in the case was turned down, but she has indicated she will appeal that decision. She had argued to be a party since her office was created for the purpose of protecting and enforcing the rights of citizens.

Tomlinson filed the claim in December last year, contending that the law violates several rights guaranteed under the Constitution.

“During the hearing of the applications, the court stated that some of the churches’ allegations seem far-fetched. Nevertheless, the court found that the opinion of the majority of Jamaicans — as reflected by the religious groups — was important in deciding what two consenting adults do in the privacy of their bedrooms,” Tomlinson is quoted in the Trinidad and Tobago Express newspaper as saying after the ruling on the inclusion of the religious groups.

“This is truly a David and Goliath situation, requiring me to respond to not only the government’s, but also the religious groups’ arguments,” he added.

Last month, the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) dismissed a case brought by Tomlinson who had claimed that the Immigration Acts of Belize and Trinidad and Tobago seek to prohibit homosexuals from entering those countries, and the two CARICOM nations were therefore in breach of their obligations under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.

But the court dismissed his assertions, saying he was unable to show that he had ever been or would be in danger of being prejudiced by the existence of the challenged provisions of the Immigration Acts of Belize and Trinidad and Tobago.

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