Another Gay Challenge Print E-mail
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Written by The Guardian   
Thursday, 18 July 2013 00:00

CCJ building (inset) Maurice Arnold Tomlinson The Government of Belize is once again preparing itself to defend a local law which is being challenged by a homosexual man. On Wednesday, July 17th, the Caribbean Court of Justice was empanelled to do case management following a legal action by a homosexual man and lawyer from Jamaica, Maurice Arnold Tomlinson, who is seeking Special Leave to invoke the original jurisdiction of the Caribbean Court of Justice. The case management has set November 12th as the date for the application to be heard.

Tomlinson is seeking to invoke the original jurisdiction of the Caribbean Court of Justice which in essence is to interpret the Treaty of Chaguaramas*. Under the Treaty of Chaguaramas, however, only member countries can invoke the original jurisdiction, hence, Tomlinson's request for Special Leave. There must be a differentiation made between the original jurisdiction of the CCJ since a revision to the Treaty of Chaguaramas has given the court the authority to act as an appellate court replacing the Privy Council as the final appellate court for Belize, Barbados and Guayana.

If Tomlinson, who is also an LGBT activist, is successful in his leave application, he will be seeking that the court rule against Section 5 of the Immigration Act of Belize. That section reads:
“Subject to section 2(3) the following persons are prohibited immigrants-

(e) any prostitute or homosexual or person who may be living on or receiving or may have been living on or receiving the proceeds of prostitution or homosexual behavior.”

According to Tomlinson, the Immigration Act breaches his right to free movement established under Articles 45 and 46 of the revised Treaty of Chaguaramas. 

In an affidavit,Tomlinson has admitted that he has visited Belize on at least two occasions most recently between July 17 and 21, 2012 abd at the time, he claims he was not aware of the Immigration Act, even so however, he was not denied entry into Belize. His affidavit continues explaining that he was invited by the United Advocacy Movement (UNIBAM) to conduct an advocacy and human rights training session in Belize City from January 14-16, 2013; however, he was legally barred from entering Belize by the Immigration Act since he is a gay man.

The case is one which Tomlinson is also mounting against Trinidad and Tobago, which has a similar Immigration Act. When the CCJ hears the application on November 12th, it will deal with both countries simultaneously.

Tomlinson is a gay activist who claims had to leave his home country of Jamaica for openly advocating for LGBT rights after he received life threats for doing so. He is married to another man and lives in Canada.

*(The treaty Chaguaramas was signed on July 4, 1973 in Chaguaramas, Trinidad and Tobago. Signatories were Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. It came into effect on 1 August 1973. The treaty established the Caribbean Community including the Caribbean Single Market and Economy, replacing the Caribbean Free Trade Association which ceased to exist on 1 May 1974. A revised Treaty of Chaguaramas establishing the Caribbean Community including the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) was signed in 2001).

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 July 2013 14:23